Roma head coach Jose Mourinho mocked clubs qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages via the backdoor as 'the failed sharks of the Champions League'.
Mourinho's side are in a battle to reach the knockout stages via Group C after a 1-1 draw at Real Betis left them third on four points, behind the Spaniards (10) and Ludogorets (seven). Roma will still hope to overhaul Ludogorets and advance with two games to play in the group.
The draw, however, meant Betis were assured of reaching the next stage and Mourinho was asked if they were the Europa League favorites, leading him to implicitly goad teams like Barcelona and Juventus.
"I see them [Betis] as candidates, but the failed sharks of the Champions League will arrive, and they will come in hard," Mourinho said, referring to sides who drop into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League groups.
"They shouldn't come but it's the reality. It's going to be fun. The failures of the Champions League."
Among the clubs currently third in Champions League groups are Barcelona, Juventus, Ajax, Atletico Madrid and Milan.
Should Roma fail to finish in the top two in Group C, they will qualify for the Conference League where they will defend the title they won under Mourinho last season.
The Portuguese added: "We want to go through and finish second, but if we finish third, we'll become candidates to retain the Conference League."