Unusual measure: Mourinho changes – and no player

Unusual measure: Mourinho changes - and no player

In the friendly against Partizani from the Albanian capital Tirana, AS Roma, who start the new Serie A season against US Salernitana next Sunday (6.30 p.m., LIVE! on kicker), initially took an early lead.

“Pharaoh” Stephan El Shaarawy (30), who returned to the Romans from China in 2021 and also stayed this summer, scored a fine pass behind the defense in the 12th minute via a lob to make it 1-0 before he also did held striker Andrea Belotti (29) was successful with a low shot (26th).

In the second period or in the final phase, José Mourinho made what was at first glance a strange substitution. The Portuguese coach, who narrowly failed in last season’s Europa League final at Sevilla FC (1:4 on penalties) and thus lost his first European final, dismissed his promising summer signing Houssem Aouar. The 25-year-old midfielder, who came from Olympique Lyon, was visibly surprised at first – especially because nobody else came for him.

Mourinho thinks along

Afterwards, it quickly became clear what the motive had been. It was Mourinho’s fair play thought.

According to a report by “Corriere dello Sport”, “The Special One” wanted to ensure a tie among the players used on the field, since Tirana was only active with ten players at this later point in the test. Partizani coach Zoran Zekic previously made a mistake during the second half when he took down a player and wanted to replace him with a player who had also been substituted.

The referee didn’t allow Zekic to correct this faux pas, which led to Mourinho’s Aouar substitution.

But why exactly did it hit Aouar? It is quite possible that Mourinho wanted to spare the offensive top newcomer (contract until 2028) before the start of Series A. In the end, the Romans won the test 2-1 after 23-year-old Tedi Cara shortened for the underdog.

Matic said goodbye

In the meantime, Mourinho can no longer fall back on his long-time favorite pupil Nemanja Matic in midfield. The 35-year-old Serb, who had already worked with “Mou” at Chelsea and Manchester United, moved on to Stade Rennes. And that’s just a year after the Red Devils’ sweeper and point guard came to the Italian capital.

Media reports are circulating that the relationship between Mourinho and Matic has cooled off. In terms of performance, the professional was a very important factor in 2022/23, completing 50 competitive games for the Giallorossi.


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