Liverpool had to settle for a stalemate against West Bromwich Albion last weekend and had to do so again facing Stoke City at Anfield this week. On both occasions, it was clear that the the manager was hoping to save something in the tank for two critical Champions League matches against AS Roma. The Reds secured a 5-2 advantage in the first leg, and will attempt to close out the deal at Rome in a few days.
Defender Joe Gomez, who only recently returned to the squad after an injury layoff has been called to action on the domestic front, and though he hasn’t been involved in European action, promised that Liverpool would stick to the attacking football that has carried them this far. In other words, if the Reds “do a Barcelona,” it will be on their own terms and not because they retreated into a shell.
“As we’ve shown this season, our best form of defense is attack,” said Gomez. “We’ll do that again and go out with that mindset. Obviously we’ll be wary that they have their threats. The two goals they scored will keep us on our toes and defensively aware.”
If Liverpool are going to keep Roma on the back foot in any meaningful way in Rome, they are going to need all three of their forward line to be on top of their respective games. As the domestic matches against West Brom and Stoke showed, Liverpool are a somewhat different proposition when not all three of Mané, Firmino, and Salah and harassing defenders at the same time.
After the first leg match at Anfield, there were concerns that Mané would be lost to injury at a critical juncture. Jürgen Klopp subsequently confirmed that the Senegalese winger had picked up a knock, but also indicated that it was a minor issue, and that Mané might not see minutes against Stoke City, in an effort to preserve him for the matchup against Roma.
Following the draw at Anfield, the club and manager reassured nervous supporters by stating that Mané “will be fine for Wednesday.” Klopp is not one for mind games, so it’s reasonably safe to assume that Mané will be available against Roma, unless heaven forbid something else happens between now and then.