Big Match Focus: Roma vs Liverpool

Roma needs to play out of their skins yet again in the second leg as they look to overturn a 5-2 deficit against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

UEFA Champions League
2 May 2018
Semi-final, second leg
Kick-off: 21H45 (GMT+2)
Venue: Stadio Olimpico

Referee: D. Skomina
Assistants: J. Praprotnik, R. Vukan
Fourth Official: T. Klancnik

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Liverpool 6 4 1 1
Roma 6 1 1 4

Previous encounter:

Liverpool 5-2 Roma 24/04/18 (Champions League)

Liverpool goalscorers: M. Salah (35′, 45′), S. Mane (56′), R. Firmino (61′, 68′)

Roma goalscorers: E. Dzeko (81′), D. Perotti (85′ pen)

Players to watch:

Edin Dzeko is the Giallorossi’s main dangerman, having scored in each of his last four European outings and taking his tally in this season’s competition to seven goals. The Bosnian striker also scored a brace against Chievo on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah came back to haunt his former employers in the first leg with two classy first-half goals. The Egypt international failed to find the back of the net against Stoke this past weekend, but he returns to Rome looking to move closer to Ian Rush’s record of 47 goals in a season for the Merseyside giants.

Team form and manager quotes:

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side did the unthinkable when they beat Barcelona 3-0 in the return leg to progress from the quarter-finals on the away goals rule, having lost 4-1 the first leg.

They face a similar situation in the last four, but with two away goals in the bag on this occasion, after Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti scored late on at Anfield.

The Giallorossi bounced back at the weekend with a 4-1 victory over Chievo in Serie A – their third win on the trot – to keep pace with cross-town rivals Lazio in the battle for third place.

Di Francesco admits they need more divine intervention in the Eternal City while urging key players like Dzeko to step up and make Mohamed Salah’s return to his former stomping ground one to forget.

“[We must have] belief, and with this mentality, with these fans and this passion around the team, try to perform another miracle – and saying a miracle is perfectly fine,” the Italian said in his pre-match press conference.

“I’m glad we’ve got this far, but I’m never one to settle – our ambition should be to get to Kyiv. I’ll try and treat this game like any other. I’ve passed on my ideas to the team and will convince them that this is achievable.

“The players have got to take responsibility – Edin Dzeko even more so as one of the key players in this team. I hope he will be the man who – even more than Salah in the first leg – makes a difference in this tie.”

The Reds have seen second place in the Premier League slip away after back-to-back draws against West Brom (2-2) and Stoke (0-0). They are five points behind Manchester United with two games left to play.

But Jurgen Klopp’s side has built up a head of steam going into the crunch European encounter as they are unbeaten in their last nine matches across all competitions since losing 2-1 to Manchester United in the league.

Klopp acknowledges that Roma has a formidable home record in Europe, but insists his team aren’t just going to make up the numbers in the second leg.

Speaking to the press, the German said: “We are here to fight for our dreams, and we want to go to the final. A lot of people might think Roma have only to win 3-0, but that’s quite a result. We’ll be there as well – we won’t stay in the dressing room! This is a big opportunity.

“After we conceded those two goals, people thought we lost – we didn’t – it was just the first round. I don’t think we are through, but I don’t think we’re in a bad situation.

“Roma have not conceded at home in the Champions League, right? We’ve not lost in the Champions League yet – if it stays like this, we are through.”

Team news:

The hosts continue to be without Gregoire Defrel and Rick Karsdorp, with Perotti and Kevin Strootman having now joined them on the sidelines.

The visitors welcome back Sadio Mane after the Senegalese winger was rested against the Potters. Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold both picked up slight knocks in that game, but are expected to be fit.

Joe Gomez will miss out, though, after sustaining an ankle injury in Saturday’s stalemate, while Adam Lallana returns to the matchday squad for the first time since March.

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