Liverpool will take on Roma in their first UEFA Champions League semifinal appearance in over a decade.
Liverpool will welcome Italian side AS Roma for the first leg of the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, at the Anfield on Tuesday night.
The Reds made it through to the last four of the competition for the first time in over ten years, courtesy of an impressive victory over fellow Premier League outfit Manchester City in the quarterfinals. Liverpool come into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion but Jurgen Klopp’s men will be high on confidence given their exploits in the previous round.
Roma, on the other hand, caused the upset of the season when they beat competition favourites Barcelona in the quarterfinals, pulling off a comeback to turn around a three-goal deficit from the first leg. Eusebio Di Francesco’s men have won two out of their three subsequent fixtures and will be hoping to pull off another major shock result against the Reds on Tuesday.
Team News and Tactics
Midfielders Emre Can and Adam Lallana remain sidelined for Klopp’s side along with defender Joel Matip, who has been ruled out for the season. Nathaniel Clyne is also likely to miss out again with an injury. The Reds will have captain Jordan Henderson back for selection, after he missed the second leg against Manchester City due to suspension.
Having rested a number of key players for the weekend’s encounter against West Brom, Klopp will be recalling them into the starting XI when Roma come to town.
Loris Karius has been a mostly reliable presence between the sticks of late and should once again be backed to do the job on Tuesday night. He will be shielded by a back four comprising of young Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back and Andrew Robertson at left-back, both of whom did not feature this weekend, while Dejan Lovren will partner up with Virgil van Dijk in the centre.
How the two centre-halves will cope with the physicality of Edin Dzeko could be key on Tuesday, especially given how the Reds struggled from set-pieces in their draw against West Brom this past Saturday.
At the base of the midfield Jordan Henderson will take his spot and look to control the tempo of the game with his distribution, while also thwart any threat the visitors pose. Supporting him in the middle of the park will be summer signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and veteran James Milner, both of who have been in good nick recently.
It will be a big night for Liverpool’s top scorer Mohamed Salah, going up against his former club. He will not want to go easy on them starting on the right-flank. On the left, it will be Senegalese attacker Sadio Mane who will look to cause problems with his pace and guile. Through the middle, Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino will return after not starting on Saturday.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane;
Defender Rick Karsdorp and forward Gregoire Defrel are the only notable absentees for the Giallorossi who have been handed a boost by the return of Diego Perotti, after a three-week layoff due to injury. Despite having used a three-man backline against Barcelona, Di Francesco is likely to stick with the 4-3-3 setup that has worked for his side over the course of the season.
Former Liverpool transfer target Alisson Becker will line up between the sticks on Tuesday night in hope of extending his good run of form. Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksandar Kolarov will take up the full-back slots on the right and left sides respectively, in the hope of keeping Mane and Salah under the wraps. Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio will line up in the heart of the defence.
Daniele De Rossi will occupy the holding midfield role for Roma. He will be tasked with breaking any rhythm and momentum Liverpool are able to generate in the middle. Playing slightly ahead of him will be Belgian powerhouse Radja Nainggolan who will be given the freedom to make an impact in the final third, alongside Kevin Strootman who will be the more conservative of the duo.
In attack, young sensation Cengiz Under could find himself starting out on the right-flank for the Giallorossi after having a brilliant debut campaign while returning man Perotti could be in for a start out on the left wing. Spearheading the attack will be former Manchester City man Edin Dzeko, who has scored six times in Europe this season.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Florenzi, Fazio, Manolas, Kolarov; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Strootman; Under, Dzeko, Perotti;
- Liverpool and Roma have met five times previously in competitive fixtures, with the Reds winning three of those (one win on penalties after draw) while the Italians coming out on top just once.
- Liverpool are undefeated in their last 14 matches in the UEFA Champions League and have scored at least two goals in seven of their last eight games in Europe.
- This is Liverpool’s 10th appearance in the semi-final of the European Cup/Champions League – they’ve progressed to the final on seven of the previous nine occasions, losing only in 1964-65 against Inter Milan and in 2007-08 against Chelsea.
- Roma are appearing in their first European semi-final for 27 years, when they faced Brondby in the Uefa Cup in 1990-91. Their only previous European Cup/Champions League semi-final was in 1983-84, when they eliminated Dundee United to face Liverpool in the final.
- Roma have won just one of their past 14 away Champions League games (D5 L8), a 2-1 win at Qarabag earlier this season.
Player to watch
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Crowned the PFA Player of the Year a day ago, Mohamed Salah is having a blinder of a debut season with Liverpool, having moved from AS Roma last summer. And going up against his former side on such a huge occasion will be special for the Egyptian.
Salah has already amassed 41 goals for Liverpool this season. His tally for Roma over two seasons was 34 goals in 83 appearances – take that for impact. Moreover, he has scored in each of his past four Champions League starts for Liverpool and will once again be the Reds’ biggest threat going forward.
Liverpool 3-1 AS Roma
Neither of the teams were hot favourites to make it as far as the semifinals in the Champions League and having made it this far is a special achievement in itself. Roma pulled off a comeback for the ages against Barcelona but it is hard to see them cause another upset at Anfield which will be roaring on Tuesday night. Liverpool’s attack in red hot form will take some stopping and we at the Hard Tackle expect a 3-1 win for the Reds at home.