Last Updated: 25/04/18 12:35am
Merseyside Police have arrested two men on suspicion of attempted murder after a man was seriously injured before Liverpool's Champions League game with Roma at Anfield on Tuesday night.
A 53-year-old man was injured in the incident, which occurred outside the Albert Pub - close to Anfield's famous Kop Stand - where fans were gathering before kick-off of the semi-final first-leg match.
Detective Inspector Paul Speight said: "We believe the victim was in Liverpool with his brother for the Liverpool v Roma semi-final and was assaulted during an altercation between Roma and Liverpool fans near to the Albert pub at about 7.35pm.
"Witnesses report that the victim was hit with a belt and then fell to the ground. Paramedics treated him at the scene and he was taken by ambulance to Walton Neurological Centre, where he is being treated for a head injury. His condition is currently described as critical and his next of kin have been informed.
"The place where this incident occurred is right by the ground and was heaving with fans making their way to the game. I would appeal to anyone who has any information, or mobile phone footage of the incident, to contact us urgently, as information they have could be vital to our investigation."
The two men arrested, aged 25 and 26 from Rome, have been taken to a police station where they will be questioned by detectives.The Liverpool team bus arrives at Anfield before the game
A Liverpool statement said: "Liverpool Football Club is shocked and appalled after a Liverpool supporter was left in a critical condition having been attacked prior to the Champions League fixture against AS Roma.
"Our thoughts, in the first instance, are with the victim and his family at this very traumatic time. We will be offering them our full support.
"The club has been liaising with the emergency services since the incident occurred and will continue to do so.
"Liverpool FC directs supporters and those in attendance at the game to Merseyside Police's appeal for information."
Trouble before Liverpool's quarter-final clash with Manchester City, which saw City's team bus damaged by missiles, saw extra police on hand ahead of the match on Tuesday.
Supporters flooded the streets around the ground and welcomed Liverpool's bus with a now familiar cloud of red smoke.
But Roma's bus was not sent down the same route as the home side, coming down the traditional route for Premier League matches and away from where the majority of supporters had congregated.
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Jürgen Klopp expects an exciting Champions League clash between two sides boasting 'experience, youth, skills and threat' at Anfield tonight.
Liverpool host AS Roma in the first leg of their semi-final encounter – with a place in May’s showpiece in Kiev on offer over the next eight days.
Klopp has made five changes to his starting XI, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren and Andy Robertson returning to the defence, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Roberto Firmino brought back in further forward.
“We cannot get a result without a good game,” said the manager.
“It’s a strong [Roma] side. They are playing the same system they played against Barcelona – so [that’s a] big honour!
“It will be exciting. It’s a really open game with two strong sides. Go through their line-up and it’s a mixture of experience, youth, skills, threat and everything. Go through our line-up and it’s pretty much the same. That’s how a semi-final should be.”
Liverpool make five changes for this evening’s Champions League semi-final, first-leg clash with AS Roma at Anfield.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren and Andy Robertson return in defence for the encounter with the Italian side.
Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in midfield and Roberto Firmino is restored in attack.
Liverpool: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Subs: Mignolet, Clyne, Wijnaldum, Klavan, Moreno, Ings, Solanke.
Liverpool FC's official charity will hold its third annual LFC Foundation Day when the Reds take on Stoke City on Saturday April 28.
The special event will see a variety of activities and fundraising initiatives take place in and around Anfield on the day of the penaultimate Premier League home match of the season.
Vital funds raised will support the Foundation’s programmes and charity partners, which aim to create life changing opportunities for children and young people.
Activities will include free family fitness sessions, football freestyle demonstrations and appearances from the club's official mascot, Mighty Red.
There will also be a range of family games, interactive activities and junior giveaways in both the Fan Zone in Paisley Square and the Fan Zone on Anfield Road.
Fans will also be given the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime experience: the ultimate family day out at Anfield with Reds star Sadio Mane.
The prize will include a private stadium tour, a press room Q&A and a pitchside kickabout with Mane, as well as a home shirt personally signed by the player on the day.
Fans can enter the competition online at charitystars.com/LFCFoundation from 9am BST on April 28, 2018. The raffle will close on June 9, with the draw taking place the following day.
Liverpool FC have confirmed that tonight's UEFA Champions League clash with AS Roma, kicking off at 7:45pm BST, is now sold out.
Supporters not in possession of a ticket are urged not to travel to Anfield.
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The Reds face Roma in their first semi-final in Europe’s elite club competition for a decade but their manager stressed he will not be building it up to be all-or-nothing for his players.
Klopp said: “I make the pressure higher? I tell them it’s the only chance you ever have in your life so use it. Would you love to hear that before a game?
“[It’s] not a once-in-the-lifetime chance. I am already for the second time in the semi-finals and if I go, I will be the second time in the final. That’s pretty rare.”
The two clubs have significant history, with Liverpool having beaten the Serie A club at their own Stadio Olimpico ground in the 1984 European Cup final.
Their most recent meeting, back in 2002, saw the Merseysiders progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Prior to that the Reds were also victorious in the knockout stages of the 2001 UEFA Cup, on their way to winning the trophy, but Klopp admits that will not have any bearing on this tie.
“When was the final—’84? Most of the players were not born then. Was Milly? Maybe Milly, I am not sure,” added Klopp. “Maybe he just looks older (Milner was actually born in 1986).
“I really like it but these things happened as the stories of those boys. I love that we go to Rome, a fantastic city and a beautiful stadium, the Stadio Olimpico.
“If it helps we will use it but I think the boys need real things, not the good old stories—even though they were brilliant. We only talk about it because we hope it helps. The spirit of Rome.”
Klopp’s sides have developed a habit of blowing teams away in concentrated spells, highlighted by their three goals in 19 first-half minutes to take the quarter-final tie away from Man City.
The German likened it to the manner in which the great Man United side of the 1990s and 2000s operated.
He said: “Is there something with Alex Ferguson, Man United. At a specific time they scored always twice?
“Score, score? That is the opportunity. Score once, do it again. Use the momentum in the game. Of course we talk about it, of course we want to use that, but you still have to score.
“The team is a really enthusiastic team. In a good moment, they jump and that’s really good to see.
“On the other hand, that’s why the two Man City games were really special. We dealt with the very difficult circumstances in the two halves here and there on a high level.
“That brought us to the semis, not that we can score one, two, three in a row.
“In the moments when we are not in charge of the game, we are still in the game, that’s a very important thing and that helped us massively.”
Liverpool Football Club has today announced that it will be delivering a new youth coaching project in China.
The programme, which will initially be provided to a selection of schools in the city of Kunming, has been organised in partnership with the Kunming Municipal Bureau of Education.
Daniel Reece, head coach at the LFC International Academy in Liverpool, has relocated to Kunming to oversee the project, which is a combination of player development and education for local coaches - teaching them how to play and coach ‘The Liverpool Way’.
LFC legend and International Academy ambassador Ian Rush said: “We are extremely excited to be bringing the LFC International Academy to Kunming. The curriculum is based on the LFC Academy philosophy and practices; with an active and educational programme, that will provide excellent opportunities for local players and coaches in China.”
The project’s mission is to develop the participants both on and off the pitch; encouraging them to get active and improve their football skills, while also improving life skills such as communication, teamwork and leadership.
A key element of the programme is to deliver LFC coach education clinics, which will help to improve the standards of local football coaches in Kunming, ensuring that the LFC International Academy leaves a lasting legacy.
AS Roma arrived in Liverpool on Monday night for the Champions League semi-final first leg, and first made their way to the Hillsborough memorial to pay their respects.
A classy and touching gesture from the visiting side saw the entire squad turn out in front of the memorial, with captain Daniele De Rossi laying a wreath on behalf of the club.
The note read ‘In memoria delle vittime di Hillsborough’—in memory of those 96 victims who lost their lives back in 1989.
Along with the playing squad and club hierarchy, club legend Francesco Totti was among those offering his respects at the memorial.
The memorial – which is currently surrounded by flowers and scarves so shortly after the 29th anniversary – and the disaster was explained to the squad, with thanks offered to the Serie A outfit on behalf of Liverpool supporters, the city and the football club.
Gallery: #ASRoma players visit the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to pay their respects to the fans who lost their lives in the stadium disaster. #JFT96 https://t.co/T169L7XjDs pic.twitter.com/xYJPhKcvo3
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 23, 2018
Ahead of a match which will no doubt be intense, competitive and with partisan crowds on both sides, this was a respectful reminder of the solidarity of the football world.
Liverpool host Roma tonight in the Champions League semi-final first leg; here are all the best stats and facts for the match ahead of kick-off.
The Reds are at the semi-final stage for the first time since 2008, when they were defeated by Chelsea. They drew the first leg at home 1-1 before going down 3-2 in London.
This is their 18th semi-final in European competition and their 10th in the European Cup.
Of the 17 they have played at Anfield they have won 13, with three draws and a single defeat – to Leeds in the 1971 Fairs Cup. They have won eight and drawn one of the last nine of those games at Anfield.
The Reds hope to reach their 13th final and their eighth in Europe’s premier club competition.
In the previous nine European Cup semi-finals they have lost only twice: against Inter Milan in 1965 and Chelsea in 2008.
The previous time the last four of this competition was represented by a team from each of England, Germany, Italy and Spain was 1981. That year Liverpool lifted the trophy defeating Real Madrid in the final thanks to Alan Kennedy’s goal in Paris.At both ends of the pitch
In total, the Reds have found the net 39 times in Europe this season – extending their club record.
Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah have both registered nine goals which equals the club record of most goals scored in a single European campaign, along with Dean Saunders who did so in the 1991-92 UEFA Cup campaign in just five appearances.
Liverpool have found the net in 13 of their last 14 European games home and away.
The Reds have not conceded a goal at home in the last five games at Anfield in league and cup, since Michail Antonio scored for West Ham in February. That is their longest run since 2006-07 when they recorded eight home clean sheets in succession.
Meanwhile, they have kept nine clean sheets in their last 15 matches.
The Reds have kept six clean sheets in their last eight Champions League games.He’s boss
Jurgen Klopp has suffered defeat in two of his 25 European games while in charge at Anfield – the best record of any Liverpool manager in Europe over the same number of games from the beginning of their tenure.
The Reds have scored 56 goals in that time.
Tonight will see him take charge of the Reds for the 150th time. He has won 79 and drawn 42 with 28 defeats.
Klopp has faced Italian clubs in three ties during his managerial career. Of the six games he has won two and lost four.
The Reds have lost only one of the last 20 European matches at Anfield and are unbeaten at home in the last 15, winning 10 and drawing five.Egyptian King
Mo Salah has scored in each of the last nine games at Anfield in league and cup in which he has started, scoring 14 times in that run.
Salah is playing in his third European semi-final and has been eliminated on both previous occasions.
His next goal will see him set a new club record by scoring in a 33rd different game in a single campaign – the record held by Ian Rush since 1983-84.Eye on the opposition
This will be Roma’s 21st tie against English opposition – they have won four and lost nine of the 13 played in knock-out format.
They have suffered elimination in each of the last six clashes with English clubs after winning the previous three.
In England they have played 19 times, winning only once – at Anfield in 2001 UEFA Cup (1-0).
Since their victory at Anfield in 2001, they have not kept a clean sheet in 11 visits to this country.
Roma have won only one of their last 14 away games in the Champions League (at Qarabag this season) and in this competition have not kept a clean sheet in 27 games away from the Stadio Olimpico since recording a 2-0 win in Lyon back in 2007.
They have yet to concede a goal at home this season in five Champions League games – equalling their best sequence in the European Cup.
Edin Dzeko is Roma’s leading scorer in Europe this season with six goals, with four of those coming in his five away appearances.
When scoring twice against Napoli last month he became the first player ever to score 50 goals in the Bundesliga, Premier League and Serie A.
* Stats courtesy of LFC statistician Ged Rea.