Liverpool beat Roma, set up Madrid final: Five talking points

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

Liverpool fought off a late Roma comeback on Wednesday night at the Stadio Olimpico to set up a Champions League final date with holders Real Madrid on May 26.

Jurgen Klopp’s side now face the mammoth task of trying to prize the trophy from the grasp of the double defending champions in Kiev.

FOX Sports Asia looks at five key points in the wake of Liverpool’s semi-final victory.

Experience the key?
Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale – the Real Madrid squad reads like the football Hall of Fame. World Cup, European Championship, and Champions League winners – the Los Blancos squad has it all. Vastly experienced players who have won the biggest trophies in football multiple times. Add to that the fact that most of Zinedine Zidane’s team will be playing in the final for the fourth time in five years and they have a distinct advantage which could prove to be key. Do Liverpool stand a chance?

Time to take James Milner seriously
Football fans in England love to poke fun at the Liverpool midfielder over his allegedly dull demeanour, which he (purposely) burnished on Wednesday when he joked he would celebrate Liverpool getting to the final by having a glass of Ribena.

Joke as they may, fans should also take note of how important Milner has been to Klopp’s Liverpool this season. The 32-year old is a calming influence in the middle of the park and ironically plays a big part in the Reds’ exciting attacking play. Milner has already broken the record for the most assists in a single Champions League campaign with nine. One more for the final, James?

On the defensive
Liverpool’s tie against Roma was the highest-scoring semi-final ever in the Champions League, with Klopp’s side prevailing 7-6 on aggregate after a late Roma fightback in the Eternal City. Defence has often been pointed out as the weak link in the German’s team, but aside from the group games with Sevilla and the semi-final the Reds’ backline has been pretty impressive in this European campaign, keeping six clean sheets – the most of any team in the competition.

Of course, the attacking riches of Zinedine Zidane’s side pose a different kind of threat to the likes of Maribor and Porto, but with just 90 minutes standing between Liverpool and Champions League glory one more big defensive performance will be enough.

Klopp’s final hoodoo
A lot has been made about Jurgen Klopp’s record in finals. The former Borussia Dortmund boss has lost his last five finals, including the Champions League in 2013.
On paper the final should be no contest given the pedigree of the Real Madrid squad, but don’t write the reds off yet. Liverpool have already made it this far against the odds. If Klopp can coax the same kind of fearless football that his players have played up to now in Kiev, then there’s no reason why they can’t help their manager break his dismal final run.

Philippe who?
When Liverpool sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January, fans likened it to the end of the world as the Reds parted reluctantly with the player many believed was their most-talented attacker. Rather then wither and die, Liverpool have instead bloomed in the Brazilian’s absence on the back of some outstanding performances from their forward trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. The combined threat of the three, they have 29 goals between them, means Liverpool have not missed their former favourite one bit. How ironic it would be if Liverpool were to win the trophy that Coutinho allegedly left Anfield in search of.
(Note: Coutinho could still get a medal if Liverpool decide to give him one (he made five appearances before leaving.)