Jose Mourinho suffered defeat for the first time in his seventh game in charge of Roma, as the Giallorossi lost 3-2 against Hellas Verona on Sunday.
Davide Faraoni’s half-volley proved decisive at the Stadio Bentegodi, with Lorenzo Pellegrini’s fine backheel and Ivan Ilic’s own goal not enough for the Giallorossi to take anything from the game.
Here’s what Mourinho had to say after the contest…
Did you expect what just happened tonight?
“I’m always a bit preoccupied before games. It’s how I experience them. I’m always focused, that’s how I am. I knew that they had some attributes that make them difficult to play against. Even before they changed coaches they caused other teams a lot of problems, and they could have got some different results.
“Then, when you change the coach, there is pretty often a strong reaction. And we knew that. [Igor] Tudor’s approach to the game is quite similar to the one they had last season, and so it wasn’t so difficult for him and the players to adjust. But I don’t think we played well. They really dug deep to get a positive result.
“But we dug deep as well – I don’t have anything bad to say about that, about our attitude and our desire to get a result. But we didn’t play well, and we didn’t adapt well to the way they were playing. We lost a lot of individual battles, we lost out on a lot of second balls and they had a bit more intensity in key phases of the game. I need to watch it back, I’ll have to spend a few hours in front of the screen to see a few more details.”
It seemed like they caused problems for you by moving down the flanks; creating passing triangles and dragging Veretout and Cristante apart so they could play in between them. On their left you really seemed to struggle. What was your plan to deal with that?
“We analysed them before the game, we worked on these situations in training. They did that a lot last season, with Miguel Veloso as the left-central midfielder. It wasn’t a surprise to us.
“But we didn’t deal well with the issues, because it should have been one of our forwards who came back to help press their third man: Zaniolo needed to drop to help out Karsdorp. But I think that happened in the first half too, and we were 1-0 up anyway.
“In the second half we talked about that issue again and it felt to me like we were struggling to deal with things. Even when we had the ball, too often we looked for the long ball over the top. We realised they were good in the defensive battles and we looked for the ball over the top too often. Our passing play lacked a bit of quality.
“As for the three goals, I was too far away to see all the details. But I got the feeling that in the first 15 minutes of the second half our central midfield struggled to really get on the ball and get control of the game, and thus struggled to create much.”
Could Roma have done a better job of managing the game in the early parts of the second half?
“We knew there would be a reaction: they weren’t playing badly, they were at home, it was only 1-0. There was still everything to play for. And, as you know, there is always an end of the pitch a team prefers to attack. It wasn’t a surprise for us that they came out strongly.
“Okay, we need to do better at managing these moments. I always say that you can never expect to dominate the entire game. Even when you do, you are going to have to get through a few difficult moments. But we had lots of one-on-one moments in attack, where if we won the duels we could have really hurt our opponents.
“But we needed to get more of the ball. Veretout was really hampered by the yellow card he picked up. For any player who plays in that part of the pitch, the yellow card came too early and it meant there was a bit of fear with a few challenges. But to really go into specifics I need to watch the game back. Because it’s one thing to have a few feelings about a game and another to really analyse it.”