Jose Mourinho and Xavi copy each other’s excuses as they point finger of blame

It was a busy night of European football on Thursday with all eight quarter final first legs taking place of the Europa League and Europa Conference League.

There was no shortage of talking points across the action with plenty of goals and red cards but it was not a glorious night for either Barcelona or Roma. Indeed, the respective coaches of each side opted to use a similar excuse after their side’s fell to below-par results.

Both Xavi Hernandez and Jose Mourinho blamed the state of the pitch for their outcomes against Eintracht Frankfurt – were Barca were held to a 1-1 draw against ten men but were largely second best – and Bodo/Glimt – were Roma fell to a 2-1 loss – respectively. Indeed, the Norwegian champions had already humiliated Roma earlier in the campaign – beating them 6-1 in the group stage, in what was the worst result of Mourinho’s managerial career.

Bodo/Glimt are the story of this season’s Conference League and are unbeaten in any competition since August, with three stunning results against Roma – their two home victories complemented by a 2-2 draw in the Italian capital in the group stage. If they replicate that result in the second leg next week, they will qualify for the semi-finals and eliminate the competition favourites.

Mourinho told Sky Sport Italia after the game, as per Football Italia : “The two goals were from a set play and a deflection. We score a lot of goals from set play too, but it’s a good one to score, a bad one to concede. The first goal was ridiculous. To be honest, the thing that worries me the most is the injury for Mancini. It’s a concern, it’s something caused by playing on a plastic turf.”

While Barca were also below par away at Frankfurt, their 1-1 result against 10 men was actually a good outcome for Xavi’s side in relation to their performance – and they will remain favourites to progress through to the Europa League last four next week at the Camp Nou. However, the former midfield maestro was damning of the pitch in Germany.

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Xavi was frustrated at the state of the pitch at the Football Arena Frankfurt
Xavi was frustrated at the state of the pitch at the Football Arena Frankfurt

Xavi said after the draw: “This was a very difficult game against a physical opponent. We did not know how to stop their transitions. The pitch was not in the best condition. We created fewer chances than normal but we are satisfied with the result. Normally, the side who has more possession creates more than their opponent but today it was the other way around. This is Europe, everything is complicated.”

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets agreed with Xavi’s comments on the state of the pitch in Germany, adding: “The pitch was not good and it was difficult for us to play on it at first.” The second leg of that tie will be staged next Thursday night at the Camp Nou.

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