15 minutes: Pellegrini comes forward for Roma, running diagonally from the left side to the center of the field. He tries to pick Lorenzo Pellegrini with a ball behind Feyenoord’s defense, but is cut short.
13 minutes. Feyenoord Rotterdam wins a place near the corner flag deep in the area of Roma. Nothing comes of it.
11 minutes. There is still no opportunity for either team to report and in terms of the balance of the game so far you would say that Feyenoord has slightly the best of it.
9 minutes. Good work by Luis Sinisterrra of Feyenoord (Latin genre for left-handers) on the left side. His tradition is poor, however, and his cross goes straight into Bijlow’s gloves at the nearby post.
8 minutes. Roma’s cross from the right by Rick Karsdrop is too high for Lorenzo Pellegrino, who makes a clever move from the middle. Feyenoord is clear.
5 minutes: Playing his first game since early March after being sidelined with a leg injury, Feyenoord goalkeeper Justin Bylow receives a back and whistles the ball upwards. It falls on a Roma head.
4 minutes. Smalling gives a second repetitive side pass in quick succession deep into Roma territory. Nothing comes of it.
3 minutes. To the left of Roma’s back trio, Chris Smalling wins a midfield ball from deep against Cyril Deschers and takes it off. Leaves sideways near the middle of the line.
Two minutes: In these very early stages there is no quarter left over or given, as both teams fight for the ball.
1 minute: Feyenoord gets the ball rolling, its players wearing gray jerseys, yellow shorts and yellow socks. Roma players wear red shirts, shorts and socks.
Not long ago now: Referee Istvan Kovacs and the umpires’s team lead the players of both teams to the pitch in Tirana and lie down before the final pre-match formalities. The stadium is full with a capacity of 22,000 seats. One suspects that these sides could easily be filled four or five times larger.
Ready! Whoever wins tonight’s final will take place in next season’s Europa League. But what is this? Neither of them needs it because both have already qualified for the tournament due to their final place in the respective domestic leagues.
Roma finished in the top six in Serie A, while Feyenoord finished third in the Eredivisie. There is, however, a glossy pot and a large check worth € 4.25 million to play in tonight’s final.
Roma: Rui Patricio, Smalling, Ibanez, Mancini, Cristante, Karsdorp, Mkhitaryan, Pellegrini, Zalewski, Zaniolo, Abraham.
Subs: Vina, Perez, Shomurodov, Maitland-Niles, Veretout, Kumbulla, Sergio Oliveira, Spinazzola, Bove, Afena-Gyan, Fuzato, El Shaarawy.
Feyenoord: Bijlow, Geertruida, Trauner, Senesi, Malacia, Aursnes, Kokcu, Nelson, Til, Sinisterra, Dessers.
Subs: Pedersen, Hendrix, Jahanbakhsh, Linssen, Sandler, Cojocaru, Marciano, Walemark, Hendriks, Toornstra, Jansen, Hall.
Arne Slot speaks: “His resume makes you wary of his team,” said his opponent Slot. “He is known for winning many finals. But most of all we have to focus on his team, his tactics and the different ways he plays. “We should not pay too much attention to the fact that he has such an impressive record in the finals.”
Jose Mourinho speaks: “If I win I will be the first to win all the European trophies, but only if I win,” said the Roma manager before tonight’s match. “When you get to a final after a season of work, the job is done. It is the moment of the team, not the moment of an individual.
“I do not believe in magic potions, I do not believe in magic spells. There is nothing special to do, just to be us as a team. Knowing the qualities we have, knowing the limitations we have. For me, no matter how the final ends, this is a positive season for us “.
The referees of tonight’s match
- Referee: István Kovács
- Assistant Referees: Vasile Marinescu and Ovidiu Artene
- Fourth official: Sandro Serer
- Assistant Referee Video: Marco Fritz
The first news of the team …
Along with Chris Smalling in Roma defense, Tammy Abraham looks set to offer an English presence in this final, leading the Italian team to attack with 28 goals in all competitions during a successful first season for the club.
Behind him, Nicolo Zaniolo could start in midfield after playing the last 14 minutes of Roma’s 3-0 win in Turin on Friday after recovering from a muscle injury. Elsewhere in Roma midfield, Brian Cristante could start in place of Jordan Veretout. Heinrich Mkhitaryan is also available for selection after recovering from a thigh injury he suffered against Leicester.
Also carrying the England flag, Rice Nelson is likely to line up for Feyenoord at the end of his season with the Dutch club on loan from Arsenal. Feyenoord goalkeeper Justin Bijlow has just returned to training after an injury in March and will probably have to settle for a place on the bench, with Ofir Marciano nodding. On loan from KRC Genk, Siriel Dessers is the top scorer in the tournament with 10 goals and will play for the Dutch team.
The Albanian city of Tirana is home to the opening final of the Europa Conference League, which will be claimed by Roma and Feyenoord. Hailing with some suspicion and a bit of ridicule during its release, the contest has really proved its success.
Tonight’s finalists have played 36 games against each other in the tournament so far and tonight either Jose Mourinho or the much less famous Arne Slot will be the mastermind of victory for their team in the first ever final. The start at the 22,000-seat National Arena is at 20:00 (BST), but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and concentration.