Roma 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen | Mourinho vs Xabi Alonso | Tactical Analysis

Mourinho and Xabi Alonso fought a great tactical war. Leverkusen’s game plan was based on not jumping to press Roma’s back 3, allowing them to have possession and when the ball reached the flank they pressed with several players to prevent progress.

Mourinho wants to drag the press to find space upfront, but with Xabi Alonso’s plan Roma had to play a lot of long balls in the first few minutes, as they couldn’t find any other way to get closer to the opponents box. When Roma won the aerial duel on the flank, it was exactly the same, Leverkusen’s pressing in superiority trying to recover the ball and launch the attacking transition.

From the 15th minute onwards, Roma started to find different solutions to break the mid block proposed by Xabi Alonso. The first was Pellegrini offering passing lanes behind the midfielders, appearing between the lines, or on the left channel so that Spinazzola could position higher and create doubts to Leverkusen.

With no pressure on the centrer backs, they started to have too much time to make the best decision and find passes behind the defensive line, with Leverkusen having to defend closer to goal. This led to Roma moving some of their center backs higher up the pitch, being able to progress more easily and get past the first line of pressure carrying the ball.


Bayer had no other option but to start to press the centre-backs and Roma took advantage of this to score the winning goal. Long ball from Mancini to Tammy Abraham, Bayer’s pressing created more space between the lines giving Roma a better chance to win the aerial duel. 

The Roma striker controls the ball with his head to create a 3v3 with Andrea Belotti and Edoardo Bove who finishes the play and scores the goal.

Very interesting confrontation between Mourinho and Xabi Alonso that will have a second part in Leverkusen for a place in the final of the Europa League.

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