Feyenoord coach Arne Slot on the UEFA Europa Conference League final against Roma and playing the right way – interview
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Feyenoord coach Arne Slot is proud that "goals, energy, intensity" and "a lot of attacking football" have been the hallmarks of his side's UEFA Europa Conference League campaign – and he wants more of the same against Roma in the final.
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A midfielder with Zwolle and NAC Breda among others, Arne Slot has taken his game to a new level as a coach, leading Feyenoord to the UEFA Europa Conference League final in his first campaign in Rotterdam.
The 43-year-old joined the club following a brief spell in charge at AZ Alkmaar, and has turned them into a successful European unit. As they prepare to take on Roma in the final, Slot tells UEFA.com that he is determined to keep playing the Dutch way in Tirana.
On facing José Mourinho's Roma in the final
His CV makes you wary of his team. [Mourinho] is known for winning many finals. But we mainly have to focus on his team, the tactics and the different ways they play. We shouldn't pay too much attention to the fact that he has such an impressive track record in finals.
[Roma] can play brilliantly in important matches, especially in the knockout phases of European competitions. [They know] how to prepare well for an important game. They have a great starting line-up, but if Mourinho has to look to the bench, there are a lot of other players who can reinforce the team. Only the best teams make it to the finals, so it's logical that you will have to face a strong opponent. But the same goes for AS Roma: they also have a strong opponent to face.
On his expectations for the season
If you look back at the last few seasons for Feyenoord, I don't think it was realistic to expect [us to reach this final]. Over the past few years, we have never even managed to get past the group stage. I think after one of the first away matches that we won, a member of the [Dutch] press was watching the match with tears in their eyes saying, "But we never win away games!"
It was that special. But then, when you start working with this team and you play matches together, you soon realise that this team has more potential [than they are given credit for]. Our matches were some of the most spectacular: lots of goals, energy, intensity, and there was a lot of attacking football. These are the things that Dutch football is renowned for. So, regardless of the results, we can look back on this season with a very positive feeling about the way we presented ourselves.
On Feyenoord's key strengths
We are an attack-minded team that likes to have a lot of the ball, and we play with a lot of intensity. When we don't have the ball, we want to win it back as quickly as possible by being aggressive and pressing to win back possession. I think we are a team that is difficult to beat.
You [have to] focus on your opponent, the qualities they have and their weaknesses. That is what the match plan is for, but it would be strange to play a different system for the final. We will play our usual system and with the players you'd expect, as long as they are all fit.
On what it would mean to win this trophy
I think you can only describe that [feeling] once it has happened. I think we have succeeded in making the fans proud of this team. They are really proud of their team now, but we are not satisfied with just that. We want more and I think this group should demand that of themselves because they have the quality to win titles. We did not manage to do that in the Dutch league. We couldn't win the league or the cup.
We still have a unique opportunity in Europe. [The players] must realise that this team has the potential to win something, and we'll have to demonstrate that on 25 May as I feel the team will be seen in a different light next season. So, for this group that has experienced so much together, this is the last chance to win a title this season.