Europa League

Real Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini previews Roma showdown, praises Mourinho

SEVILLE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 15: Manuel Pellegrini, Head Coach of Real Betis looks on prior to the UEFA Europa League group C match between Real Betis and PFC Ludogorets Razgrad at Estadio Benito Villamarin on September 15, 2022 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)
John Solano

Following their huge win on Saturday over Inter, Roma return to European action on Thursday evening for a decisive showdown versus Real Betis in round three of the Europa League group stage.

The Giallorossi host the Spaniards at the Stadio Olimpico hoping to hand the leaders of Group C their first dropped points of the competition.

Asked about tomorrow’s clash, Real Betis mananger Manuel Pellegrini believes the two fixtures versus Roma could decide the fate of their group.

“It’s going to be a complicated yet decisive match against Roma,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Between tomorrow and the return leg there’s going to be six key points on the table. Roma are a team that perfectly reflect the characteristics of their manager: they defend well, they’re aggressive, and they try to shock you on the counterattack.”

The former Manchester City technician also discussed facing off against Jose Mourinho and even revealed the club considered him for the bench in the past.

“Jose’s a manager who has had a brilliant career and made a mature decision by deciding to go to Roma,” explained Pellegrini.

“I remember after he replaced me at Real Madrid and I joined Malaga he said he’d never manage a club like Malaga: a phrase that went ‘viral’ as we say nowadays.”

He continued, “But I was proud to go to Malaga because it was a new project and I live to embrace a challenge: we managed to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.”

“I think this is similar to what happened to Jose. He was at the most elite clubs but opted to embrace a challenge such as Roma and won the Conference League.”

“He’s had difficult exits at the bigger clubs he’s been at but he’s not entered into decline. This is why I view his decision to join Roma as a sign of maturity ten years after I did the same with Malaga.”

“Now Roma have a brilliant manager with whom they can make a leap in quality which seems to be a clear objective after buying fantastic players such as Dybala.”

Finally, “Will I ever manage in Serie A? It’s been a regret of mine that I haven’t done so yet. However, there’s still time, I have a contract with Betis until 2025 and I’ll respect it but who knows what the future holds.”

“I came close to Milan before the change of ownership. I was also being considered by Roma when I was in China, however, the timing wasn’t right.”