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Mourinho: Full focus on Vitesse

Jose Mourinho held his customary pre-match conference on Wednesday afternoon ahead of Roma's Europa Conference League last-16 second leg tie with Vitesse Arnhem.

See what the boss had to say ahead of Thursday's contest - with the Giallorossi going into the game holding a slender 1-0 advantage...

What are your thoughts on what is going on in the world at the moment?

“Very objectively, very pragmatically … stop the war. This war and all other wars. Stop. And if I need to say that every day, then I will keep saying that every day.

“I don’t want to talk about politics - I am interested in politics, but I don’t speak about politics publicly. But, nevertheless, I will say, shout and even repeat each and every day that war has to stop. All wars.”

On Sunday in Udine you pointed out a lack of intensity among some of the players. Do you think they will have the right motivation back for this one? Have you worked on that this week?

“We work on things every day. So that’s it, really, we think we are ready for what we need to do tomorrow.”

You have always said that you only want to take things game by game. Even in a week like this, though? Is it more important to get the win against Vitesse or Lazio, and could some already be thinking about Sunday?

“The only game we are interested in right now is the Vitesse game tomorrow. If we win, if we draw, then we are into the quarter-finals. If we lose then we are out. Lazio don’t come into it, it’s not Sunday or Sunday’s game. The only game I’m interested in is this one now.”

Is there another player in your squad who can move the ball with speed and intent in the same way Henrikh Mkhitaryan can?

“All our players are different. All of you know our squad. You are all very fierce critics. You can even be critical about a boy who joined the club as an eight-year-old and was starting his first game in Serie A. You are the ones who like to criticise.

“Yes, Mkhitaryan is important for us. I don’t want to say that we didn’t win the game in Udine because he wasn’t there - but nevertheless he is an important player for us.”

Do you like the fact the away goals rule is no longer in place? Does it change things much?

“I don’t know really. I don’t know if it’s better or worse. But it definitely can or does change the dynamic of the games.

“For example, in the Champions League Ajax got a good draw in the first leg in Lisbon. But that draw still meant that Benfica could go to Amsterdam without having to score in order to get to the quarter-finals. They were able to approach the game in a different manner, without needing to risk everything.

“Before whenever a team drew at home in the first leg and conceded a goal, you knew perfectly well that they were at a disadvantage heading into the second leg. But we focused on the first leg against Vitesse in a certain way and I will do the same tomorrow, without focusing too much on the status of the tie.

“We are going to try to win the game. We haven’t thought about drawing or anything else, we are focused on a game that we want to win. We know that tomorrow a draw would be enough to get us through. But we aren’t going to play for a draw. We want to win.

“When that’s your attitude you worry less about the aggregate situation. We’ll see how it pans out.”

Apart from Tammy Abraham, Roma forwards haven’t scored many this season. Yet the teams take a lot of shots compared to others. How do you know you solve that difference?

“Are we talking about players that have always scored loads each season and only now aren’t scoring much? Or are we talking about players that have not tended to score a lot of goals during their careers? It’s not like it’s Lewandowski who suddenly isn’t scoring for Roma, is it? It’s not about the quality, then, it’s just a matter of the type of player we have.”

Compared to Udinese, how many changes are you thinking of making? Could Zaniolo be one of them, with the derby to come?

“Why Zaniolo? Why not Rui Patricio, or another player? It’s been two or three days now that you talk about this sort of thing.

“Zaniolo is fine. Why do you always ask me about him? Compared to Udinese how many will I change? Sergio Oliveira, Gianluca Mancini [both suspended] … but Marash Kumbulla and Mkhitaryan are back.”

 
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