Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

A José Mourinho time-wasting masterclass

May 31, 2023 — José Mourinho is the world’s foremost expert on time wasting, and we should study the final 5 minutes of extra time in the Europa League Final between Roma and Sevilla. A dark arts masterclass.

Figure 1.1 - Nemanja Matic goes into a tackle awkwardly and injures his leg.

From the start of the 2nd half onwards, Roma were in full low-block mode, the lowest of low-blocks, but ‘parking the bus’ is not the only tool in the toolbox that José Mourinho uses to ruin a game.

The dark arts. Time wasting.

Some may see Nemanja Matic injured and hobbling around the pitch as a deficit. José sees an opportunity.

Figure 2.1 - Nemanja Matic goes down in the 115th minute.

Start the clock.

Nemanja Matic hobbled around the pitch before finally dropping and requesting attention from Roma’s medical staff.

From the way he was moving before and then, he clearly couldn’t continue. But to everyone’s surprise, he came back on.

Figure 2.2 - Nemanja Matic comes back on the pitch in the 117th minute.

Edoardo Bove, Nemanja Matic’s replacement, was fully ready, but it’s a final. Roma can’t allow Sevilla free rein of the pitch against Roma’s ten men. Matic goes back on.

Figure 3.1 - Nemanja Matic goes down again in the 118th minute.

What a surprise, Matic goes down again.

This whole sequence of events began in the 115th minute, and we’re now into the 118th minute. Very little could occur between stoppages, and any momentum was muted.

Figure 3.2 - Sevilla is quite angry that Matic didn't go off, and José Mourinho participates in a get-together with the Sevilla players.
Figure 3.3 - José Mourinho talking to Sevilla player Joan Jordán.

And then Sevilla gift José with more wasted time as both he and the Sevilla players argue on the sidelines, stopping play.

Figure 3.4 - Nemanja Matic looking on, winded, and battered.
Figure 3.5 - Nemanja Matic is subbed off for Edoardo Bove.
Figure 3.6 - Play restarts in the 120th minute.

Stop the clock.

Five full minutes of extra time successfully wasted by Roma to take the game to penalties. Remarkable work from both José and Matic.

The best part: There were only six extra minutes of additional time after all of those shenanigans.

Would you rather play 121 minutes with little stoppages or 126 minutes with tired legs going into the final six minutes of additional time added on to extra time? Sevilla would have wanted 121 minutes because they looked the likeliest to score, and Roma forced the second option.

And now the job is simple. Work the ball into the corner.

Figure 4.1 - Roma work the ball into the corner, to waste time.
Figure 4.2 - Dribble to the corner flag.
Figure 4.3 - Roma win a free kick.

Roma’s average squad age is 28.3, and Sevilla’s is 29.6. They’re no spring chickens. Many were going down with cramps, and some even went off injured.

Both teams were completely exhausted from the start of extra time, so it’s not like it wasn’t a welcome sight to Sevilla that the game went to penalties.

Figure 5.1 - José Mourinho giving away his runners-up medal to a kid in the crowd.

The dark arts worked, but Roma lost 4-1 on penalties.

Congratulations to Sevilla for continuing to hold the record for the most Europa League victories, having won the competition seven times since its inception. 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020 and 2023.

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