Roma banking on Smalling, Mkhitaryan experience for Man United clashes

Roma banking on Smalling, Mkhitaryan experience for Man United clashes

 

Roma boss Paulo Fonseca is hoping to draw on the experiences of former Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he plots a route past Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the Europa League semi-finals.

Thursday night’s first-leg tie will see a return to Old Trafford for Smalling and Mkhitaryan, both of whom have successfully revitalised their stalling careers in the Italian capital.

England centre-back Smalling initially impressed on a season-long loan from United – where he spent 10 years – before sealing a permanent £18.1million switch to Roma back in October, while Mkhitaryan also joined on loan in 2019/20 before Arsenal cancelling his contract by mutual consent allowed the Armenian playmaker to sign on a full-time basis last summer.

Fonseca: “We know this is a big game for us. It was important for us to see and feel the passion of the fans earlier today at Trigoria. We want to fight for them, for the city and for the club.”
#ASRoma #UEL #ManUtdRoma pic.twitter.com/jtUgQff5RM

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 28, 2021

Mkhitaryan previously made 63 appearances across all competitions for United between 2016-18 before heading to north London as part of a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez.

 

Smalling: “Personally I’m feeling good. It’s no secret that I’ve missed a lot of games this season, which is unusual for me, but coming into this game I’m feeling fit and ready to contribute. I don’t think there could be many bigger games to play in.” #ASRoma #UEL #ManUtdRoma

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 28, 2021

Both players have been regulars for Roma when fit, with Smalling only returning from a month-long layoff caused by a knee injury during Sunday’s 3-2 Serie A defeat by Cagliari.

And Fonseca is hoping to tap into their respective insights as he looks to guide the Giallorossi to a first European final since 1984 and continue Solskjaer’s last-four hoodoo in the process.

Both Smalling and Mkhitaryan were members of the United team that lifted the Europa League trophy under Jose Mourinho in 2017, with Mkhitaryan scoring in the 2-0 final win over Ajax in Stockholm.

“This match is against a great team, maybe the favourite to win the competition,” Fonseca said at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, via Reuters.

Smalling: “I think there are very few clubs around the world that have a fanbase capable of that [send-off], so we know the importance of tomorrow and bringing back a positive result to Rome so we have something to go for in the second leg.”
#ASRoma #UEL #ManUtdRoma pic.twitter.com/IooYDmdPWl

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 28, 2021

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“We prepared for the match well. I talked to the two of them who played here and have experience in this moment of the competition.

“We know it will be difficult, we respect United but we have our ambitions.

“We don’t always reach a semi-final, we understand the importance of the moment. We have seen our fans and it is important to feel this support. We want to fight for them and for the club.”

Source: Football News – Sporting Life

#Roma #banking #Smalling #Mkhitaryan #experience #Man #United #clashes

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