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Tears in Tirana: Feyenoord loses Conference League final | Football

The long road through Europe, with eighteen matches even unprecedented, ended at game number nineteen in a deep disappointment for the Legion, which was so certain beforehand that the attacking football against Jose Mourinho’s Italians would lead to success.

What worked against the stronger Olympique Marseille – plenty of attacks, showing guts and playing with the knife between the teeth both at home and away – we suddenly didn’t see again against the Romans.

Was that the final ghost that valued above a selection that has experienced little internationally? Did the tension get to the players or was the tactical plan more cautious against a seasoned Serie A club? With those questions, the red and white part of the supporters was already halfway in the stadium of Tirana. Their ‘heroes’ did not shake off their trepidation for a long time and were already billed for this in the first half.

Rick Karsdorp in duel with Luis Sinisterra

Rick Karsdorp in duel with Luis Sinisterra

Fewer risks

Of course, finalists take fewer risks because everything depends on one performance under high voltage. But in warm Albania it suddenly all became too cautious. The wingers Luis Sinisterra and Reiss Nelson were never as sharp on the AS Roma backline as in other European duels, Cyriel Dessers was provided with depth balls too early where he was almost killed by the tall duo Mancini/Smalling and Gernot Trauner made the back with his timing mistakes he hasn’t made almost all season.

One of those mistakes also led to AS Roma’s 1-0. The bald Austrian with his shiny skull slipped inexplicably under defender Mancini’s ball, after which Nicola Zaniolo was able to tap the outside of his foot past Justin Bijlow.

Watch Zaniolo’s goal here


It was a sledgehammer blow for Slot’s team because Mourinho’s teams have been masters in defending a lead for years. This goes hand in hand with theatre, with time wasting, with schwalbes and with the simulation of injuries. That’s exactly what happened.

The goal was also the only moment when AS Roma entered Feyenoord’s box during the first half. Everything was focused on defending with five men and an iron discipline, fired by a blood fanatic Mourinho. He scolded his left back after 30 seconds when it was simply passed by Lutsharel Geertruida.


On paper, Feyenoord knew beforehand, Italy’s number six was bigger in everything: the budget, the value of the players, the salary house, everything. But that never got in the way in the semi-final against Marseille.

Slot must have instilled in his players that they had to return in all respects to their own ideas and the house style that Feyenoord has become familiar with under his rule. His team came out of the locker room feeling reborn. The fire was back and that led to three life-size opportunities immediately after the break.

Trauner on the pole

Trauner thought he could make up for his earlier slip when he hit the post from a corner kick, Sinisterra almost hit the rebound from the rebound and a few minutes later Malacia released a cannonball that went through the fists of goalkeeper Rui Patricio at the cross bar and post. splashed.

Feyenoord hits the post and does not receive a penalty after alleged handball

Things were on fire again, but it remained the work of a master cracker to open King Mourinho’s safe. The Portuguese, who has always won his finals with large and expensive teams, continued to rely on the quality of his leaders.

King Mourinho's code turned out to be unbreakable.

King Mourinho’s code turned out to be unbreakable.

The contrast between the two finalists could not be better portrayed than by the comparison between the two strikers of both teams. Feyenoord has been arguing for months about the possible purchase of Cyriel Dessers for four million euros. The club first did not have the money, but thanks to the European successes it could now make the cut, but now his salary seems unattainable due to other offers.

Tammy Abraham was drafted for the Romans, attracted for 40 million euros at the beginning of this season and ten times that of Dessers in both salary and transfer fee. Until the final, the former Chelsea striker did deliver quality: 29 goals in 56 matches.

Feyenoord dangerous again after Karsdorp lost the ball

For Feyenoord, the memory of a wonderful European season remains, Slot’s first year.

The run-up to this final battle was a dream in every way for the Legion. Both sporty, with a real tour de force throughout Europe, and in terms of atmosphere on the final day in all of Tirana. But upon awakening, the harsh reality is that the first Conference League cup will make the crossing from Albania to Italy and not to Rotterdam.

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