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    Mourinho: “No one will be happy to get us in the play-off”

    Jose Mourinho spoke to the media after Roma beat Sheriff Tiraspol 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico, with goals by Romelu Lukaku, Andrea Belotti and Niccolò Pisilli.

    Did you feel a bit emotional seeing Pisilli's tears at the end?

    “I did, yes. I was talking to our in-house media about the fact that I've handed debuts to lots of players at other clubs but here at Roma, apart from Joao Costa, they're all kids who were born here, who came to the stadium with their dads and granddads, and for whom making their Roma debut is an incredibly emotional occasion. When they get their chance to turn out for the first team it means so much to them.

    “It wasn't Pisilli's debut today – it was for [Mattia] Mannini – but it was his first goal for the first team, at the Olimpico, in the Europa League, in that magical goal they dreamed of scoring in when they were kids. It's a joy to see a youngster crying. I had to leave or it would have set me off too.”

    What's your assessment of this group stage?

    “We've finished second, through our own fault. We only had one really bad game, in Prague, and that's ultimately what decided first and second place. At home we played three and won all three comfortably. Away from home we won the first and that left us in a good position. But we can't go to Prague and turn in the performance we did. We're paying for our mistake. Paying how? Paying by having to play two extra games, with a squad that doesn't need two extra games but needs fewer games.

    “We'll have to play them now, against a big club dropping down from the Champions League. But one thing's for sure, our opponents won't be happy to get us either.”

    There don't seem to be any teams on a very different level to Roma.

    “Benfica reached the quarter-finals last season and the Europa League is not where they want to be because they have higher ambitions.

    “As for the other teams, if you look at Galatasaray, Lens and Feyenoord, you realise they could have gone further in the Champions League. They'll be motivated to do well in the Europa League and feel a sense of responsibility.

    “PSG and Manchester United aren't in there but could have been – and they're huge clubs that want to win the Champions League – but there are some excellent teams. I hope we don't see a repeat of last season, when we beat Salzburg, Real Sociedad and Bayer Leverkusen and it seemed like we'd beaten the Faroe Islands, with no disrespect to them.”

    Before the match Tiago Pinto said the club would bring in a defender. What sort of player are you expecting? 

    “The sort of player we're able to sign. For some clubs it's very easy to sign players but for us it's difficult. I want to repeat that the owners want it, I want it, Tiago Pinto wants it, the players want it, the fans want it. We all want it.

    “Obviously we can't sign an amazing player in great shape from a top club because of the Financial Fair Play situation, which is very restrictive for us. Some people have said things that aren't true, saying that it's our responsibility. A bit more respect is needed.”

    Who do you mean?


    Do you think that with two defenders and a fit Paulo Dybala your team can give anyone in Europe a game and try to finish in the top four?

    “With everyone fit, definitely. We're not scared of anyone in the Europa League and we're perfectly capable of challenging for the top four. Without a shadow of doubt.

    “Unfortunately we have and we'll always have problems because of the type of players we have. But we'll push on with what we've got. I've decided not to feel sorry for myself and to go on with whoever I have in that particular moment. We'll push on bravely with those who are with us.

    “Next we have Bologna, an excellent team, and we'll play them without Dybala, without Lukaku, without this guy and that guy. But we'll push on.”