Be better than against Manchester City. That’s Liverpool’s mantra heading into their Champions League semi-final against Roma. With just two games between them and the final, the opportunity is clear—and the room for error non-existent.
And so, difficult as it might be to top a 5-1 aggregate dismantling of the Premier League’s best side and Champions-elect, that has to be the goal. Don’t let up, don’t look past, and don’t take anything for granted. Be better than against Manchester City.
“This is a big test, a big challenge, but I feel we’re ready for it,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said ahead of Tuesday first leg at Anfield. “If we put on a similar—if not better—performance than against Man City then hopefully we can get to the final.
“It will be a different game to City and they will ask different questions, but we’ve played a lot of good sides across Europe and we’ve answered any questions they have asked. Now we need to continue to play with a high intensity, to create and score goals.”
So far, nobody has done that as well as Liverpool in the Champions League this season, and of the final four they’re out in front with 33 goals in the group and knockout rounds so far—opponents Roma, for comparison, have scored 15 times in their ten games.
It’s not just in attack where they have excelled, though, having also conceded the fewest times of any of the four finalists, with just seven against. In that category Roma again trail, having conceded 12 times. Based on the record, there’s reason for confidence.
Roma, though, have shown they can raise their game and do the one thing that matters more than anything else—get the result. They came first in their group ahead of Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, then got past Shakhtar and Barcelona on away goals.
It hasn’t been the prettiest of Champions League campaigns for Liverpool’s opponents, but time and again so far they have gotten the important goal, the important save, and then the important result right when it matters most for their advancement.
“I feel we’re ready for the challenge,” Henderson added—of facing a side that keeps getting the right result and of Liverpool’s own need not to let their performance levels drop. “It’s one we’ll look forward to taking on.”