Roma defender Gianluca Mancini has admitted the team viewed the inaugural Europa Conference League as the "cup of jokes" before actually participating in it this season.
The competition, which pits clubs that otherwise wouldn't have qualified for European tournaments against one another, was viewed skeptically by members of the continent's big-five leagues.
However, Roma have found their road to Wednesday's final against Feyenoord to be difficult, and Mancini says they now hold a much greater appreciation for the tournament.
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What did Mancini say about the Europa Conference League?
“Since the start of the season, to be honest we thought this would be easy," Mancini told reporters. "Our target was to reach the final, of course.
“We thought the group stage [would be] easy, we thought it was the ‘cup of jokes’, but after that heavy defeat against Bodo/Glimt we’ve faced every match to reach the final. We have one last game remaining to accomplish something unique.
“It’s the most important game of my career, I’ve played a Coppa Italia final, but in Europe, it’s different. It’s more difficult to get where we are."
Abraham makes request
Roma striker Tammy Abraham jokingly requested that defenders not allow Feyenoord attacker Cyriel Dessers to score on Wednesday so he could pass Dessers to be the leading scorer in the competition.
Abraham has netted nine times so far compared to 10 from Dessers.
“He hasn’t only asked me, but the whole team,” Mancini said.
“We have studied [Dessers], he is a good striker, but we have a better one. I hope that tomorrow at 23.30 Abraham will be the best scorer.”
How did Roma reach the final?
Jose Mourinho's squad advanced past the group stage despite suffering a 6-1 defeat to Bodo/Glimt.
In the knockout rounds, they have beaten Vitesse, Bodo/Glimt and Leicester City.