Roma(2) vs Liverpool(5): second leg preview
Liverpool travel to Rome for tonight's Champions League semi-final encounter. Jurgen Klopp's side carry a 5-2 lead from the first leg. Is the tie already settled, or can Eusebio Di Francesco's men stage a magnificent comeback?
Roma have had a relatively good season so far. The Giallorossi sit third in Serie A with 70 points from 35 games. Champions League football looks extremely likely once again next season
Roma's European run this campaign has been astonishing. La Lupa topped heavyweights Chelsea and Atletico Madrid in the group. They then overcame Shakhtar Donetsk to reach the last eight. Most recently, their finest moment arrived. Trailing Barcelona 4-1 from the first leg, the Giallorossi produced an incredible fightback at the Stadio Olimpico to progress on away goals.
Liverpool have scored a whopping 38 Champions League goals in 11 games this season. The Reds topped Group E, thrashed Porto in the Round of 16 before completely dominating England's top team Manchester City in the quarter-finals.
Jurgen Klopp's men are serious contenders to be crowned European kings.
Sadio Mane picked up a minor problem at home to Roma. Despite missing the weekend's league match against Stoke City, the Senegal international is expected to start at the Stadio Olimpico.
Liverpool's Emre Can, Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain are all unavailable. Joe Gomez is likely to miss out too. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson remain doubts. Adam Lallana, meanwhile, recovering from injury, has traveled to Rome.
For Roma, Diego Perotti, who came off the bench to score in the first leg, Kevin Strootman, Rick Karsdop and Gregoire Defrel will all be absent.
Both Roma and Liverpool are expected to use a similar set up to the first leg.
Di Francesco reverted to a 4-3-3 in the win over Chievo on Saturday. Using a 3-5-2 is the best option against Liverpool, though. It would allow the Giallorossi to go five at the back while matching their opponent's midfield three.
Selecting the correct personnel is important to prevent Liverpool's fabulous front three running riot. Federico Fazio couldn't handle Mohamed Salah at Anfield. Kostas Manolas and Juan Jesus didn't perform well either. Roma's defence must remain watertight, focused and organized. The frontmen will need service, too. Long balls could prove effective.
Speaking ahead of the game, Roma coach DI Francesco offered his thoughts.
We’ve already shown we’re capable of coming back and we should have the belief that we can do it again. I believe. That's my slogan and that’s what I want to transmit to my players.
Liverpool struggle defensively. They surrendered a three-goal lead to Sevilla in November. Conceding two late goals to Roma last week further highlighted the Reds' deficiency at the back. The recent performance against West Bromwich Albion was another remainder, having been breached twice in the space of nine minutes at the Hawthorns.
Kloop, however, is in confident mood.
We are here to fight for our dreams, that’s how it is, and we want to go to the final. After the game at Anfield, a few people had a feeling we lost. We didn’t. Meanwhile after a week a few people think Roma only have to win 3-0 but that is quite a result and we will be there as well tomorrow, we will not be waiting in the dressing room.
Roma have a fantastic home record, winning six of their last eight games, scoring 18 goals. Meanwhile, Liverpool love an away European night, having scored 41 times in their last 17 trips.
The Giallorossi certainly have the ability to trouble Liverpool's defence. Stopping Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino, though, is a tough, perhaps impossible, task.
Roma will win on the night, yet Liverpool will progress to the final, 6-5 on aggregate.
The game kicks off at 7:45 pm BST.