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Yalla Shoot :No way, José: something has to give in Roma and Sevilla’s Big Vase battle | Soccer


After the 178 matches (including qualifiers) and 464 goals you’ve almost certainly let pass you by because you’ve better things to do on a Thursday night, now might finally be the time to start taking an interest in this season’s Big Vase. Having survived the dreaded Thursday-Sunday grind through the season, Sevilla and Roma have been rewarded with a place in tonight’s final – scheduled for the slightly more exalted European week night of Wednesday – and it could be an absolute belter. An apparently immovable Euro Vase force, Sevilla have not lost any of the six finals they have contested. If they are to win a seventh they must beat a side managed by José Mourinho, who has masterminded victory in each of the five European finals he has been involved in, but doesn’t like to talk about it.

The Roma manager was dismissed by many English experts as a busted flush, something of a dinosaur who football had left behind after underwhelming spells in charge at Manchester United and Tottenham ended in tears. It should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with his work that Mourinho has since swapped his status as tedious conspiracy theorist and pantomime villain for that of a bona fide legend among Roma fans, whose adoration of him is such that some day he could conceivably topple Francesco Totti in a popularity poll. While that might seem a tall order, winning back-to-back European pots would certainly cement his legendary status in the carmine-and-gold half of Rome and elevate him above – [slight Succession spoiler alert! – FD Ed] – the brother of Shiv, Logan and the bloke from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in the pantheon of latter-day Romans who have asserted their dominance in the white-hot cauldron of battle this week.

“History does not play,” said Mourinho by way of response to his opposite number, José Luis Mendilibar, who suggested Sevilla would probably be favourites because of their past record in the competition. “My colleague thinks otherwise, I have respect for him. I have had more opportunities to play in European competitions, but Mendilibar is of the same generation as me, with the same white hair. We are on an equal footing. It’s the same for the players: Sevilla have more experience, but we’ve been playing together for two years.” While it would not be at all like Mourinho to wilfully twist the words of a rival in order to forge a siege mentality from which his team might glean a pre-match edge, it is probably worth noting that what Mendilibar actually said was “I see [the game] as 50-50”, while the bookies have installed Roma as favourites to prevail.

Victory tonight will guarantee the Italian side a place in next season’s Big Cup, while a win offers Sevilla’s only chance of qualifying for Europe next season, following a campaign in which they saw off two managers and briefly flirted with relegation before climbing to the comfort of mid-table. “If somebody had told us at the beginning of the season that this would be the case [Sevilla reaching the final], we wouldn’t really have believed them,” said the midfielder Nemanja Gudelj. One suspects if somebody had told Mourinho the same thing about Roma back in August, he’d have nodded curtly and said “I know and we will win”. Only one of these wily, white-haired men called José can prevail tonight and given his pedigree, it’s difficult to escape the notion it will be him.


Join Barry Glendenning for live minute-by-minute coverage of Sevilla 0-1 Roma (aet) in Big Vase Final from 8pm BST.


“It was like a slap in the face of United fans, even players, in front of Alex Ferguson. I remember watching highlights of the game and you could see the camera on Ferguson’s face and it was red. He didn’t say anything. You could see it in his eyes. He was like: ‘Oh.’ It was incredible” – Yaya Touré gets his chat on with Jamie Jackson about that 6-1, City’s emergence in Manchester and his old club’s push for a treble.

Yaya Toure rushes off to check Lord Ferg’s coupon after scoring against United at Wembley.
Yaya Toure rushes off to check Lord Ferg’s coupon after scoring against United at Wembley. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA


Sarina Wiegman has named her 23-player England squad for the upcoming Women’s World Cup in flamin’ Australia and New Zealand. Beth Mead has not recovered from injury in time but Millie Bright and Lucy Bronze are included, while Beth England gets the nod due to nominative determinism – and an admittedly half-decent season at Tottenham. Read more here.

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“Re: Wednesday’s Memory Lane. I didn’t know Nigel Mansell and Tom Selleck were on Everton’s coaching staff” – Ed Smith.

“Seriously? Does Sean Dych David Wilbur (yesterday’s FD Letters) really not understand why folks celebrate being fourth worst in the league? My suggestion – look at what happens to those that finish below you” – Sam Allard Mike Wilner.

“David Wilbur may describe himself as cynical, but there is something wonderfully naive about believing Everton would be able to solve all of their problems, on and off the field, with just a single season in the Championship” – Ed Taylor.

Send your letters to [email protected]. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Ed Taylor.

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