Liverpool vs. AS Roma
| Tuesday, April 24th |
Champions League | Anfield
7:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST
Almost inconceivable at the beginning of the season, Liverpool have now reached the Champions League semi-finals without suffering a single defeat so far in the competition. They face AS Roma, Mohamed Salah’s former club, and a team who has a storied European history against Liverpool. Tuesday sees the Italian side travel to Anfield for the first leg in what will no doubt be a tightly contested pair of matches.
Liverpool should be weary of allowing the Romans any chance to get that dangerous away goal, because that’s what’s provided them passage through both the round of 16 and quarter-finals. Edin Džeko, with whom Salah will be very familiar, since seven out of Salah’s 15 assists last season were made to the big man, already scored a brace against Chelsea and grabbed a goal in both games against Barcelona.
Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren will need to be on high alert for set pieces and crosses from the wing, which is how Eusebio Di Francesco’s men get their joy exploiting teams.
Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah both started in Liverpool’s weekend match against West Brom. Mané was substituted out at 66’ while Salah played pretty much the whole game. Roberto Firmino, on the other hand, along with likely midfield starter Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, only played the last 30 minutes against the Baggies. Three out of the four likely Liverpool starting defenders also got a break, with only Dejan Lovren making a short cameo at the end of the match.
While Salah has run away with the goals record in the Premier League, Champions League statistics have been much more balanced for the team. Salah and Firmino both have eight goals to their names, with Mané right behind them with seven. Big James Milner, newly crowned King of Twitter, leads the whole competition in assists, having set up his teammates seven times. Firmino is tied for second place with four, which, when added to his eight goals scored, means he’s been involved in twelve goals so far in Europe.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Maybe there’s an argument to be made for Gini Wijnaldum to start in the midfield, but otherwise, Klopp’s side pretty much picks itself. With Joël Matip, Adam Lallana, and Emre Can all out for the rest of the season, Klopp’s choices are somewhat limited. Captain Jordan Henderson is thankfully available again after missing the away leg of the quarterfinals due to yellow card accumulation.
It will be another huge game for the fullbacks who have really proved their worth over the course of the season. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson seem set to start this one again, with Clyne still not quite ready. Alexander-Arnold, after taking care of Leroy Sané in the quarterfinals, will now be charged with nullifying the threat of Aleksandar Kolarov and cutting off his service to Džeko, likely with the help of the disciplined and enterprising Milner on the right.
Rick Karsdorp and Gregoire Defrel are injured for Roma, but Kolarov, Džeko, Alessandro Florenzi, and Daniele De Rossi were all rested at the weekend in preparation for their England trip.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “If anybody thinks this is the easiest draw then I cannot help this person. They obviously didn’t see both games against Barcelona. In the first result, 4-1 was not how the game was - it was Lionel Messi genius against a good side of Roma.
”The second leg was outstanding, it was outstanding what they did. They should have probably won 4-0 or 5-0 - I was really impressed. It is just the draw and I know it is very exciting, but it is good because the most important news is we are still in the competition.”
Eusebio Di Francesco: “[Salah’s] qualities are very clear. Don’t forget that I prepared games against him in Italy, too. But the fact lots of our players know him well, that can be an advantage.”
Referee: Felix Brych Assistants: Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp Goalline assistants: Sastian Dankert, Marco Fritz
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.