Jose Mourinho has shared his thoughts on Roma’s crucial UEFA Europa League encounter against HJK Helsinki in Finland, as the Special One steps foot inside the Scandinavian country for the first time as a manager. The Giallorossi will need to muster all their momentum to pick themselves off the third place and qualify for the next round.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference (via Voce Giallorossa), Mourinho talked about a lot of topic, including his first time in Finland, the Sonera Stadium’s pitch, and HJK’s stature as a ‘difficult’ opponent.
“I am focused on the game, not on the nation. We need success, to depend on ourselves. I have seen the other HJK games, against Real Betis and Ludogorets, it was not easy for them. We are not on vacation, we want to continue in Europa League, without defending the Conference League.”
When quizzed about the artificial playing turf, the Roma manager was adamant regarding how it will be an advantage for the home team.
“I’m not complaining, also because I wouldn’t have any advantages. It will be a match to win, without thinking about the ground. My opinion is that, on this field, you don’t play football, but another sport. Many technical gestures change, and they have an advantage.”
Finally, he took stock of the Helsinki natives’ reputation as a hard-headed outfit.
“I have to be prepared. On the way out I congratulated him, because I saw an organized team. In recent years, these areas are in great football expansion, unlike 10/20 years ago. They are organized and prepared, so I have seen them in the first leg. It was a team that knew what to do. If we had played 11 v 11, it was going to be complicated for us. Tomorrow we have to play a high level match, because the opponent is difficult.”
This will be Roma’s second ever visit to a Finnish club in a major European competition, after a gap of twenty years. Roma are currently winless in four away games in Europe, whereas HJK are winless in five UEL games.
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