UEFA’s first Conference League final has a look of old-school Europe about it

May 25 – Tonight either Feyenoord Rotterdam or AS Roma will become the first club to win the Conference League, the third-tier competition UEFA introduced to allow smaller clubs to enjoy European club competitions and its riches.

In some quarters the Conference League has been an afterthought, but for both finalists, it could be the crowning moment of their season and a renewal of former European glory.

“I don’t believe in magical potions, I don’t believe in magical spells […]” said AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho. “There’s nothing special to be done, just us to be us as a team. Knowing the qualities we have, knowing the limitations we have. For me, no matter how the final ends, this is a positive season for us.”

The Italians have not won a European prize since 1961 when they won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup against Birmingham City. Mourinho’s team knocked out Leicester City in the last four of the competition. The Romans will look toward English striker Tammy Abraham to disrupt Feyenoord’s game.

Two decades after winning the UEFA Cup, Feyenoord Rotterdam return to a European club final playing AS Roma in the Conference League final. The Dutch will be counting on their striker Cyriel Dessers, whose ten goals in the competition proved instrumental in their progress to the final. Feyenoord can become the first club to win all of the three current European club competitions. They won the European Cup in 1970 and lifted the UEFA Cup in both 1974 and 2022.

“We know what to expect [from Roma], but you never know, sometimes their coach has a little twitch in his game plan,” said Feyenoord coach Arne Slot.

“But we’ve seen a lot, so we hope we’re prepared in the right way, and if he does surprise us […] we’ve played 55 games [this season] so I’d be a bit surprised if he could think of something that we haven’t had yet.”

The Dutch defeated Olympique Marseille 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals. The match will bring back memories of the 2002 UEFA Cup when Feyenoord won the competition defeating Dortmund in De Kuip. Thousands of Dutch fans have flooded the Albanian capital to drink in the atmosphere and attend the final. Local authorities have declared a holiday.

But UEFA has faced criticism over its choice of host venue with the Air Albania Stadium’s 22,000 capacity nowhere near enough to accommodate all the fans attempting to get tickets.

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