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Europa Conference League final – what to look out for

It’s a race for who gets to complete a full set of current Uefa club competition as trophy, and a battle for the top scorer accolade as Roma meet Feyenoord in Tirana, Albania.

The first Uefa Europa Conference League final, between Roma and Feyenoord, is an opportunity for two seasoned contenders to complete a unique collection of winners’ medals, and for two in-form strikers to finish top of the leaderboard.

Can Mourinho complete the set…?

Not a man normally given to showing his feelings, José Mourinho wept after Roma booked their place in the final, the 59-year-old saying: “I shed a tear because my emotions were with everyone who loves this club. This is a giant club without the trophy room to match.”

Roma have yet to win a major European trophy – they were European Cup runners-up in 1984 and beaten in the 1991 Uefa Cup final – but Mourinho has plenty of them: two Uefa Champions League titles (with Porto in 2004 and Inter in 2010) and two Uefa Cup/Uefa Europa Leagues (Porto 2003, Manchester United 2017). Should he win the Uefa Europa Conference League trophy, the ‘Special One’ would have won all three of the current major Uefa club competitions.

… or will Feyenoord get there first?

Strangely, Feyenoord are looking to complete the same set as Mourinho; they won the Uefa Champions League trophy when it was still the European Cup in 1970, and picked up the Uefa Cup, now the Uefa Europa League, in both 1974 and 2002.

The Rotterdam side would thus be the first club to have had all three of the most prestigious men’s Uefa club competition trophies in their cabinet should they manage to dash Mourinho’s dream.

Top scorers head for shoot-out

Tammy Abraham told Uefa.com that Mourinho persuaded him to leave Chelsea for Italy in the summer by asking him: “Would you rather stay in rainy England or come to the sun in Rome?” It has been a winning decision so far, the 24-year-old scoring more than 20 goals in all competitions in his first campaign, including nine in the Uefa Europa Conference League.

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The only player who has got more in the new competition is Feyenoord’s Cyriel Dessers, who has hit ten since the start of the group stage. “Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that we’d reach a European final?” said the striker, who joined the club on loan from Genk in his native Belgium in August. “This is amazing.”

Past encounters suggest tight contest

Roma and Feyenoord have met before, long-standing midfielder Jens Toornstra among the players involved as the Rotterdam side bowed out to the Giallorossi 3-2 on aggregate in the 2014/15 Uefa Europa League round of 32. However, the Europa Conference League final is a different level of tie.

Crucially for Feyenoord, they come to the decider yet to lose since the start of the group stage (W8 D4). Roma’s record, by contrast, is W7 D3 L2. Unlike Roma, the Rotterdammers have been to Tirana before; they drew 0-0 with Partizani in a 1991/92 Cup Winners’ Cup first round game at the Qemal Stafa Stadium, which was torn down to build the National Arena.

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