Europa League semi-final: Pre-match presser

Bayer Leverkusen

Xabi Alonso: “The best preparation for tomorrow’s game was the first leg. We can learn our lessons from that. It was very tight. The players now know their opposite numbers in their particular positions and know what to expect and how to best deal with the situations.

“I expect a hectic and hard-fought game. It will again come down to the details and the right balance between passion and a clear head. We want more. It’s all set up for a unique night of football. I hope we can create my best memory here to date and play a match that people will still remember years ahead.”

Florian Wirtz: “It will be the most important and biggest game of the season. I don’t feel any pressure at all but rather sheer anticipation. And the team, the fans and everybody at the club feels the same. There doesn’t have to be a miracle tomorrow, we just have to do our job as best as we can. There will be eleven players on the pitch all with the right attitude. In addition, we’ve shown over the last few weeks that anything is possible in the second match. We have 90 minutes to turn the game round. That makes me very confident.

“I know what it’s like to be injured and not being able to play. It’s hard to take not being part of it and to being unable to help us with their strengths. Of course, I want to give them the present of a victory because of that.  We are also strong as a team and so keen that everybody who is replacing the lads on the pitch tomorrow will do a very good job.”

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Simon Rolfes: “We are playing at our stadium in front of our fans. The atmosphere in Rome was super but I’m convinced that there will be a very special atmosphere awaiting us tomorrow. It will be a lion’s den!

“We have to win. That’s how we’ll approach the game. With the desire to be there at the decisive moments to score goals. We are aware that Roma will be very defensive again. That makes it even more important for us to use our individual quality better than in the first leg and show more presence in our attacking game and, above all, in the opposition box. Then we’ll get good chances.”

Karim Bellarabi: “We as a team, and everybody who is part of Bayer 04, feel that it’s a very special situation and that anything is possible. We are so close to achieving something really great together. Everybody is aware of that. I can’t play but I’m also highly motivated, will obviously be there and I will play my part so that we can all go to the final together.

“We can do it. We want it. We will give our all. We will work hard with the fans and with everybody who works hard every day for this title. Achieving that with Leverkusen would absolutely be my dream come true.

Roma

Jose Mourinho: “The present is the most important thing. The past is in the past. The future we don’t know about. At Porto I played two European semi-finals in consecutive years. Of course I’d really like to reach this final but not so much for myself. As I’ve said before, I’ve become a different person and I think mor about others than myself.

“I’d really like to get there for my players and for the fans. The fans because they’re extraordinary. My players are an incredible bunch who are giving absolutely everything this season – a season in which we’ve had lots of difficult moments that people have had to overcome. These lads really deserve it. But nobody gives you anything for free in football. We’re going to need to produce something extraordinary to reach the final.

“What I want to make very clear is we respect Bayer as a team. They have the potential to win this competition. And I want to be very clear that experience makes me say this: it’s 1-0 to us at half time and we still have the second half to play. But I do think it’s worth more if a team starts in the Europa League and plays 14 games with a squad put together for this competition, than a team that spends money and sets out to play the Champions League group stage. But that’s part of the beauty of the Europa League – these match-ups between clubs with different potential.

“Tomorrow will be our 14th match. We had a tough Europa League group with Real Betis, then a play-off against Salzburg, who had come from the Champions League, Real Sociedad, who had already qualified for the Champions League via La Liga, and Feyenoord, who were already Dutch champions. It’s been a very tough journey for us, but it’s all theory. All that matters is tomorrow’s game.”

Nemanja Matic: “We’re preparing for this game the same way we always do. The gaffer has played matches like this before and he’s told us we must put everything into it and stay focused for 90 minutes because Leverkusen are a top-quality side. We know it’s not easy to come and play here. We’ll see tomorrow. I think we’ve prepared well for it and we’ll see how it turns out tomorrow. As for the coach’s future, I don’t want to talk about it. I only want to talk about tomorrow’s game.

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“I’ve played in two finals and of course I want to win one. But before then we have to get through the semi-final and it won’t be easy. Like all my team-mates, we want to win for our fans. We’ll pull out all the stops.

“I don’t have any advice. The boss knows how to prepare matches and he gives us his game plan. I’m only one of the players and I’ll try to help with my experience but, as I said, it’s the coach who guides the team. He gives us the game plan and we just have to follow it.”

About Mathew Burt 1046 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball