In the second UEFA Champions League semi-final tie, Liverpool hold a 5-2 aggregate lead over AS Roma after a scintillating match at Anfield.
However, the doors have been left open after two late goals awarded the Italian club a lifeline for a comeback at home.
After already doing the same against Barcelona in the quarters, Roma may top that performance by eliminating the English outfit to book a spot in Kyiv.
While it may be improbable, it is not entirely impossible. Here are a few things that Roma must achieve in order to topple the Reds.
Cleaning up the defence
In the first leg at Anfield, Roma had a 3-5-2 formation which meant they had a high line for defence. This was a similar tactic when they faced Barcelona in the quarters, but things went awry when Liverpool began playing the long ball.
With speedsters Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah pacing behind the defence, Roma’s back line suffered and ultimately surrendered five goals in the process.
Expect Eusebio Di Francesco to employ a more conservative approach in the back line, making sure that they always have an eye out for the attacking force of Liverpool. They are already in a deep hole with a 5-2 aggregate deficit, adding more goals would only make things much worse.
Liverpool’s lack of a creative midfielder
Now if Roma’s defences are able to hold up, that means that the Reds’ offence should start to adjust in order to keep the ball. With that said, the game now goes to the midfield – and Roma need to take advantage of this.
The Italian club have an impressive midfield consisting of Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Alessandro Florenzi. Having them control the midfield stops Liverpool from creating possession as they do not have a creative midfielder who can break the defence to help their attacking trio.
Liverpool rely on the speed of the attack to beat the defence, but they have not been particularly good in going through the last line. If Roma’s defence hold up, the Roma midfield should be able to wrestle possession away and create their own chances to score.
Play the towering strikers
Similar to what Roma did against Barcelona, they should play Edin Dzeko and Patrick Schick in front to create more scoring opportunities.
These two were a nightmare against Barcelona’s defenders and are likely to cause the same problems with a team that are notoriously known for having holes in their defences.
Dzeko had a hard time with Cengiz Under when the two were paired together and with Diego Perotti out due to injury, this forces the hand of the two big men to play together – and this is still the most likely set-up if Roma want to win.
Feed off the Stadio Olimpico crowd
AS Roma are in relatively uncharted territory. They have only made the European competition’s semi-final stage twice in their history. And while it will be an incredibly difficult battle for the entire 90 minutes, they are a spirited group that know they can do it again.
This will certainly be in full force when they play their home leg at Stadio Olimpico and football fans know that Roma fans are some of the most passionate followers in all of Europe.
Players should feed off the energy that the crowd will definitely bring and they should be able to play at the same pace for 90 minutes. It will certainly be hard and physical, but repaying the crowd that will back them no matter the result should be enough for them to keep playing until the game’s final whistle.
Liverpool dazzled in their home pitch but expect Roma to be gritty all the way as they try to complete a comeback in the return leg. A date with Real Madrid is up for grabs, and with the destination only 90 minutes away, Roma should have plenty to fight for at Stadio Olimpico.