AS Roma seemed to take some serious risks with their approach against Bayer Leverkusen but they held on to reach the Europa League final, their second European final in as many seasons under Jose Mourinho.
It was an incredibly nervy affair at the Bayer Arena for the travelling Giallorossi fans who certainly were not entertained by their side. The ends justified the means and the 0-0 draw was all that they needed after winning the first leg 1-0 in Rome.
AS Roma invite trouble early on
The approach taken by Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma side in the first half against Leverkusen was an unusual one. The Giallorossi somehow managed to find a blend of showing no attacking intent at all, whilst also remaining very open at the back.
The likes of Florian Wirtz, Serdar Azmoun and Moussa Diaby had plenty of space to operate in, both in front of and behind the defence. The latter hit the bar with a shot during the half and it seemed almost inevitable that the German side would find a goal.
Nobody expected Mourinho to instruct his team to fly out of the blocks and take the game to Leverkusen. It isn’t in Roma’s nature and regardless, they had the lead in the tie to defend. It did not feel like a situation they had a huge amount of control over, though.
The second half began in a very similar manner and it almost felt like Roma had a 2-0 lead in the tie, rather than 1-0. It seemed that only two things could possibly shock Roma into life.
Those two things would be a Leverkusen goal, or Paulo Dybala being introduced from the bench. Much has been made of Roma’s inability to threaten without Dybala on the pitch, but it seemed to be a very sound theory against Leverkusen.
Mourinho’s methods pay off despite scares
The chances just kept coming and coming for Leverkusen as the game got into the final 10 minutes and it was clear that Roma had no intention of scoring a goal.
We have all seen many times before that Mourinho is the master of getting this sort of performance out of his teams in Europe. It should be said, though, Roma were there for the taking in Germany. Leverkusen will be kicking themselves that they did not find the breakthrough that could take them to extra-time.
Considering the injuries that Roma have been battling with in recent weeks, they could have really struggled if there was another half an hour of action.