AS Roma vs. Liverpool
| Wednesday, May 2nd |
Champions League | Stadio Olimpico
7:45 PM GMT/2:45 PM EST
Despite failing to make the top four race comfortable at the weekend, Liverpool are here, in the second leg of a Champions League semi-final, with a three-goal advantage. If you weren’t already a nervy excited mess, this is the time to nervily excite yourself.
Embroiled in their own top four battle, Roma did their job in emphatic style on Saturday, putting Chievo to the sword in a 4-1 win, despite playing a third of the match with a one-man disadvantage following Juan Jesus’ red card. Edin Dzeko notched a brace, with Stephan El Shaarawy and Patrick Schick bagging a goal each. The win maintains the Giallorossi’s grip on third place, putting some welcome distance between themselves and Inter in fifth.
Interestingly, Kevin Strootman and Diego Perotti were left out of the squad altogether, with both players nursing injuries and unlikely to be available for Wednesday’s contest. El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini both had good games and look set to replace the Dutchman and Argentinian.
On Saturday, Eusebio Di Francesco went back to the 4-3-3 that has served his side so well all year, and following the failure of the three-man backline at Anfield the manager will presumably revert to his favoured formation tomorrow night.
A three-goal deficit is no small hill to climb, but having done so once already this season — against the illustrious Barcelona, no less — Roma fans and players alike will undoubtedly fancy their chances of closing the gap. The atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico will undoubtedly be explosive, and the Reds should do their best to suffocate their opposition’s hopes as qucikly as possible, preferably with a goal or three.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
As has been the case in the Champions League recently, form and injuries ensures that the XI picks itself. Joe Gomez did not travel to Rome due to an ankle problem suffered at the weekend, but Trent Alexander-Arnold overcomes a minor fitness concern and looks likely to start ahead of the rusty Nathaniel Clyne.
Jordan Henderson also shakes of a minor knock, and with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Emre Can out, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum remain his only plausible partners in midfield. Adam Lallana joins the squad following his latest fitness troubles, but is unlikely to take part in the game.
Up top, Sadio Mané’s injury concerns — following a surprise visit to a Mersyside hospital on Thursday — have been allayed, and the Senegalese forward should be fresh after resting over the weekend. Roberto Firmino and winner of every player of the year award, Mohamed Salah both played 90 minutes against Stoke, but will hopefully not be too leggy after the drab 0-0 affair. Regardless, few would bet on the 88-goal frontline failing to score at least once over the course of 90 minutes.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “Even if we defend with all players, it doesn’t mean that all players are deep in your own box. It only means that a few are immediately involved in defending and then you need immediately options when you win the ball.”
Eusebio Di Francesco: “I would do a copy and paste (of the Barca game).
”It won’t be easy, but it is our duty to believe it. Thanks to the passion of our fans, we have our fans behind us so we all have the desire to complete one more miracle, if I may use the word.”
The Officials (SVN)
Referee: Damir Skomina
Assistant Referees: Jure Praprotnik, Robert Vukan
Additional Assistants: Matej Jug, Slavko Vinčić
Fourth official: Tomaž Klančnik
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.