The Champions League's most prolific team meet the tournament's comeback kings as Liverpool tackle AS Roma in the semi-finals – starting on Tuesday evening.
Jürgen Klopp’s Reds have, to date, swept aside all before them, racking up 33 goals in the competition proper and eliminating one of the big favourites, Manchester City, with an emphatic 5-1 aggregate triumph in the previous round.
Roma’s journey to the last four has been more dramatic, not least the manner in which they progressed to this point. A sensational 3-0 win against FC Barcelona at Stadio Olimpico earlier this month sent the Italians through on away goals.
Here is the sides’ Champions League story so far…
Free-scoring Reds return to grand stage
Liverpool are in the semi-final mix of Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in a decade – and have achieved that feat on merit.
Including the qualifying play-off against Hoffenheim back in August, Klopp’s men have navigated 12 matches without defeat on their return to the Champions League this season, winning eight.
Sevilla survived the Reds’ trademark attacking onslaught on two occasions during the group stage, claiming draws at Anfield and in Spain, but top spot in the section was secured and attention gained with 7-0 victories against both NK Maribor and Spartak Moscow.
FC Porto provided the opposition at the outset of the knockout rounds but a tie that threatened to be tricky for Liverpool was ended as a genuine contest in the opening meeting in Portugal.
A Sadio Mane hat-trick punctuated a resounding 5-0 victory at Estadio do Dragao that caught the eyes of the continent and rendered the goalless draw in the return on Merseyside immaterial.
The quarter-final draw set up an all-English showdown with runaway Premier League leaders City.
If the odds were against them for perhaps the first time in the tournament, nobody told Klopp’s charges. A trademark, first-half blitz at Anfield shook Pep Guardiola’s side and established a 3-0 advantage to take to Manchester.
There, the hosts chipped away at their deficit within two minutes. But they failed to add to Gabriel Jesus’ opener and, instead, Mohamed Salah’s deft dink early in the second half closed down the comeback. Roberto Firmino’s winner on the night merely added memorable gloss.
And so Liverpool prepare to face Roma with an unblemished Champions League record and the attacking combination of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah striking fear into any defence.
Roma the revivalists build on home foundations
Roma’s 2017-18 European adventure began inauspiciously, with their goalless draw at home to Atletico Madrid – finalists in 2014 and 2016 – nevertheless a creditable result.
A 2-1 victory over Qarabag preceded the pivotal double-header with Chelsea which perhaps set the tone for everything that has followed.
Having trailed by two at Stamford Bridge, Eusebio Di Francesco’s charges turned the game around to lead. The Premier League side levelled on that night but there was to be no reprieve in the Eternal City a fortnight later – three goals without reply racked up Roma’s most eye-catching result in the tournament until earlier this month.
Defeat on the road to Atletico did not derail the Italians, who wrapped up top spot in Group C.
Where Liverpool’s last-16 encounter was lop-sided, Roma’s was anything but. A 2-1 reversal at Shakhtar Donetsk left them with work to do – but they achieved the required objective in the return leg, Edin Dzeko netting the crucial only goal.
Like the Reds, the quarter-final draw did the Serie A outfit little favours and few impartial observers would have predicted anything but a Barcelona ticket to the semi-finals.
A 4-1 defeat at Camp Nou only consolidated that opinion. But a tale worthy of myths and legends was about to be told at the Olimpico. A tactical switch helped to tip the tie upside down and strikes from Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas saw off Lionel Messi and co.
“Football is dynamic,” Di Francesco explained to The Guardian. “Even when you talk about a four-man defence, you often end up defending as a three, or even a two, depending on the game situation.
“My decision to change the system was linked to the fact that with some teams, with the characteristics of certain players, a three-man defence can give you a little bit of extra physicality. You get a little bit of extra strength – some of that just in the heads of the players themselves. Sometimes, especially in Europe, you need a little bit more physicality.”
Next stop, Anfield.
Let’s get the cliche out of the way first – These are the nights that we live for!
A Champions League semifinal night is coming to Anfield for the first time in ten years, and even Roma would be daft to expect anything other than a raucous, relentless night in the stands.
Liverpool slipped up at the weekend though, as shoddy defending cost them two points, as the Reds let a two-goal slip, with shoddy defending at the end of the game against West Brom at The Hawthorns.
Roma will be coming into this game on a high, even though it has been a fortnight since that amazing night at the Stadio Olimpico when they overturned a 4-1 deficit from their quarterfinal first leg against Barcelona.
Here are the key individual duels that could decide the outcome of the game.Mo Salah v Federico Fazio
The King of Egypt will be on a high. He’s had a weekend that he’s not going to forget easily for the rest of his life. He was declared the PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night, a day after he equalled the Premier League record for the most goals in a single 38-game season.
But, that would be irrelevant for him and for the club if he fails to turn up for the two legs against his former team.
Liverpool’s attacking route will not be too complicated. If their game against Barcelona was any evidence, Roma play a high defensive line, and they will look to use the pace of Sadio Mane and Salah at every given opportunity.
The timing of Salah’s runs will be crucial because when he gets a clear route in behind a defence, there are very few players in the world who can stop him.
That is why Fazio’s positioning is going to be critical. He’s not the most blessed when it comes to speed of foot, so he’s going to have to nip Salah’s threat in the bud, not allowing the runs in behind him.
Alisson Becker in the Roma goal will be happy if he’s not going to have deal with the most potent Liverpool threat face-to-face, so Fazio is going to have a big game for Roma if they are to get a positive result at Anfield.Jordan Henderson v Radja Nainggolan
The skipper seems to have hit a positive run of form just at the right time of the season for Liverpool. But he didn’t have a good game at all at The Hawthorns, and a repeat has to be avoided at all costs on Tuesday.
Nainggolan, on his day, is as good a midfielder as anyone in the rest of Europe. He’s got a strong engine on him, he’s a strong man capable of shrugging anyone off the ball, has a fantastic passing range, and his hammer of a right foot is capable of spelling doom for any goalkeeper in the world.
Henderson will be looking to channel his performance from the last big European night at Anfield when he made all the right noises against Pep Guardiola’s rampaging Manchester City side.
On that night, Henderson was bright. He was closing down spaces, snapping into tackles and not giving a moment’s peace to the City midfield.
But there is always one concern with Henderson – his ability to keep the ball or play a meaningful pass when put under pressure by the opposition.
He can rest assured that Nainggolan won’t let him have time on the ball. Nainggolan is going to be snapping at Henderson’s heels at all points, so it is crucial that the skipper has his wits about him at all times.Dejan Lovren v Edin Dzeko
In Roma’s quarterfinal, Dzeko got them their priceless away goal at the Nou Camp. In general, he’s enjoyed playing at Anfield, having scored a few times during his time with City.
For Lovren, the build-up to this game has been far from ideal. He came on for the last bit of the game against West Brom, with Jurgen Klopp looking to protect the lead and leave the Midlands with three points.
Instead, Lovren lost his composure and made some elementary mistakes. None of those will be on the agenda for Tuesday night, especially given the stature of the man facing him.
Dzeko’s ability to test the goalkeeper even with the slightest of opportunities being presented to him is what sets him apart from a lot of other strikers.
The likes of Cengiz Under have been a fantastic foil to Dzeko’s work, but the Bosnian does carry the biggest threat that the Italian side pose.
He’s already had a happy return to England in the Champions League, scoring a brace in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier this season.
Upwards of 50,000 people will be willing him to fail and lose his shooting boots on Tuesday night. Will their wish be granted?
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Felix Brych (GER)
Date & Time – Tuesday, April 24th 2018 @ 19:45 BST
Current Odds – Liverpool 1/2, Draw 10/3, Roma 11/2Form
Liverpool drew 2-2 at West Brom on Saturday after being two goals ahead in the second half. Klopp was clearly infuriated after the game and who can blame him? The manager would have loved to take all three points and get an even stronger foothold on the top four, allowing Liverpool to focus more on the Champions League. Anfield will be absolutely bouncing on Tuesday night and Liverpool should continue their impressive European form this season with another win.
Roma had an impressive win on Saturday away to SPAL. They rotated their starting eleven and still managed a comfortable victory. In the Champions League, Roma’s last game was the fantastic 3-0 win over Barcelona. They will be confident of beating Liverpool in the second leg, no matter what the outcome at Anfield on Tuesday.
Liverpool Team News
Klopp is without Emre Can, Adam Lallana, and Joel Matip, due to injury. Nathaniel Clyne is still very much short on match fitness but may make the matchday squad. Liverpool’s strongest midfield should be Henderson, Milner, and Oxlade-Chamberlain. The front three pick themselves at this rate and they all emerged unscathed after Saturday’s game at West Brom.
Liverpool’s Top 3 Rated Players this season (WhoScored.com – 10 appearances or more)
Roma Team News
Defrel and Kolarov will face fitness tests to see if they are going to be available for selection on Tuesday night. Di Francesco will most likely set Roma up in a 433 shape with morphs into 451 when out of possession. It will be interesting to see how Lovren and Van Dijk cope with Edin Dzeko. In goals for Roma, Alisson Becker will be out to impress as he plays against the team he has been most strongly linked with in recent months.
Roma’s Top 3 Rated Players this season (WhoScored.com – 10 appearances or more)
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson(c), Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané
AS Roma (4-3-3) – Alisson; Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Pellegrini, De Rossi, Strootman; Under, Dzeko, Perotti
When they last met
The last four meetings between Liverpool and Roma have been in “meaningless” pre-season friendlies. Roma have won three of those games and Liverpool just one. The last time the sides met in a competitive fixture was the 2002 Champions League Second Group Stage (yes, kids, there were two group stages in the Champions League in those days!). Gerard Houllier was present at Anfield on his return after undergoing heart surgery as Liverpool had to win by two goals to progress. A penalty from Jari Litmanen plus a second-half goal by Emile Heskey ensure Liverpool won 2-0 and made it through.Prediction
Liverpool 3 – 1 AS Roma
I do fear Roma in the second leg. How can you not after what they did to Barcelona? But that’s for next week’s match preview! This week, it’s Anfield. This week it’s the Liverpool faithful who will be making the noise and welcoming the teams in an atmosphere worthy of football’s greatest competition. I expect goals, and plenty of them. I’m backing Liverpool to take a good lead back to Rome for the second leg.
** Please note – “xGA” on the Form Stats Tables symbolises “expected goals against”
It all seemed to be going so well for Liverpool. A much-changed side spearheaded by Danny Ings took an early lead before a second-half strike from Mohamed Salah put the away side two goals to the good. Three points heading to Merseyside and plenty of rested legs ahead of far more important games.
No-one, not even the most optimistic of West Brom fans would’ve predicted the last fifteen minutes of the game. From 2-0 down, the home side fought back tooth and nail to grab a point that ultimately changed little for their Premier League fortunes. Likely to be nothing more than a conciliation point for The Baggies in the grand scheme of things, Liverpool’s capitulation saw them waste a golden chance to cement a top-four finish.
Here are the observations from a frustrating day in the Midlands.Relief for Ings after sustained injury troubles
Danny Ings hadn’t started a game for Liverpool in 916 days prior to the Everton game earlier this month. Back among the starting eleven with a crucial tie against Roma on the horizon, the striker gained only his second start under Jurgen Klopp.
Fitting that he got on the score-sheet, then.
Some lovely build-up play down the left-hand side culminated in a sumptuous piece of skill from Sadio Mané. Dinking the ball over Jay Rodriguez’s head, the Senegalese international combined with Georginio Wijnaldum, with Ings on hand to steer home.
The move ended his 930 days wait for a goal, having last scored on October 4th, 2015 in the Merseyside Derby. It visibly meant the world to Ings; a player who’s suffered such misfortune with injuries over the last few years.
Then there’s Gini Wijnaldum. Often criticised for failing to produce the goods in away games, the former-Newcastle man recorded his 15th assist under Jurgen Klopp, placing him behind only Mané, Coutinho, Milner and Firmino.Van Dijk a rock among shaky looking defence
In the previous 12 games, Liverpool have recorded eight clean sheets and conceded just five goals, putting to bed the argument that Klopp’s team cant defend. Yet, this was a return to their old selves in a much-changed back-four. Alberto Moreno was given his first start since March 6th while Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan also came in.
West Brom clearly targeted Moreno and Klavan as the weaker individuals within the defence, giving Matt Phillips ample opportunities to run at the Spaniard and flash balls into the box. Solomon Rondon too, isolated the Estonian. Neither player stood up particularly well to the challenge, gifting The Baggies chances to display their aerial prowess.
Van Dijk however, stood out in his usual authoritative, dominant manner. Winning 5 out of 7 aerial duels, the most of any Liverpool player, the Dutchman was a man amongst boys. It could well have been 3-2 to West Brom but for his intervention, with a crucial headed clearance in stoppage time preventing Phillips from taking all the points.
In just four months, Van Dijk has more than proven his worth to Liverpool, helping to stabilise a previously rocky defence. His teammates may have returned to the dark days of defending, but his class stood tall. We’ll need the same against Roma, Virg.Mohamed Salah joins the Premier League’s elite
Every weekend there’s some new record that Salah’s broken and Saturday was no different. Another goal stemming from some brilliant combination play between the Egyptian and substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain saw the former produce another ice-cold finish to mark his 31st league goal of the season.
He’s now equalled the Premier League record of most goals scored in a 38 game season, joining Alan Shearer (1995-1996), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-2008) and Luis Suarez (2013-2014). With three games left still to play, Salah now has a great opportunity to smash yet another record in his debut season at Liverpool. What a player he is.Two points dropped to provide a warning against complacency
Albeit in a very promising position to confirm a top-four finish, this was a warning against complacency Liverpool would do well to pay attention to. The result puts greater emphasis on their home game against Stoke City which is sandwiched in between two crucial European games.
Anything less than a win could open the door for Chelsea with a pivotal game at Stamford Bridge to come, thus Klopp will need to be wary of rotation or risk surrendering their current position.
Four points from the final three games should be easy enough, but you’d be a fool to think this is over quite yet – Liverpool don’t do things the easy way.
With Liverpool and AS Roma set to face off in the first of two Champions League semi-final matches on Tuesday night, we sought an expert view on what to expect from the Serie A club at Anfield and across the tie.
John Solano runs AS Roma Press, a website dedicated to the exploits of the Italian side, and last summer told us – with sublime prescience – that Mohamed Salah was ‘teetering on greatness’ as he completed a move to the Reds.
By a quirk of fate, the two teams now do battle for a place in the final of Europe’s elite club competition – after Jürgen Klopp’s men eliminated Manchester City and Roma produced a stunning comeback to defeat FC Barcelona in the last eight.
We caught up with John again for the lowdown on I Giallorossi’s recent form, key players and likely approach on Merseyside…
Can Roma fans believe what has happened in this Champions League run?
I think for many supporters it still feels like a dream and we’re waiting for someone to pinch us and wake us up. Roma’s performances this season in the Champions League have been sensational. While it is certainly surprising that they’ve made it this far into the competition, nobody can say that it’s undeserved.
Where does the comeback against Barcelona rank in the club’s recent history?
It’s undoubtedly up there in the pantheon of historical Roma performances. Roma’s history in the competition isn’t exactly illustrious so when a huge result such as this arrives, it almost immediately catapults itself into the top tier of moments in the club’s history.
Tell us about Eusebio Di Francesco and how he has changed Roma this season...
He’s changed Roma quite a bit this season. Beyond the tactical and technical changes, the biggest change we’ve seen from Roma, particularly in the Champions League, is their mentality. I Giallorossi have played with conviction that we haven’t seen in nearly a decade in Rome. Di Francesco has brought a stronger mentality as well as a much more balanced and organised side.
Roma have been excellent at home but lost three in a row away from home in the tournament. Is there a weakness there?
It’s really a head-scratcher because if you look at Roma’s away form in Serie A, it is actually much better than their home form. I do think Roma have some difficulties away from home but they’ve shown on big occasions that they can be up for it.
How do you expect them to line up at Anfield, in terms of both personnel and tactics?
This is really difficult to predict because in the second leg against Barcelona, that was the first time Eusebio Di Francesco opted to use a three-man defence, which is certainly something he could use again versus Liverpool. However, I do expect Di Francesco to opt for his preferred 4-3-3 formation with Alisson in goal, a defence consisting of Florenzi-Manolas-Fazio-Kolarov, a midfield three that includes Nainggolan-De Rossi-Strootman, and capped off with an attack of Cengiz Ünder-Dzeko-Perotti.
I do think Di Francesco will, as usual, try to take a balanced approach against Liverpool. I Giallorossi actually implemented this very well in the first leg against Barcelona; however, they were extremely unlucky as they conceded two own goals. Against Liverpool at Anfield, though, I don’t expect Roma to take many risks.
Who is Roma’s most important player?
Edin Dzeko. Roma have had big problems finding the back of the net this season and the Bosnian No.9 has almost single-handedly carried the attack. Dzeko is without question the focal point of Eusebio Di Francesco’s attacking approach.
How do Roma fans feel about Salah and his performances this season?
Roma supporters still hold Mo in high regard. He was an extremely popular player in Rome and always honoured the shirt. I don’t think many are surprised by his performances this season because he was sensational during his two years at the club and showed he had the ability to be a world-class attacker.
What is your prediction for this game, and the tie as a whole?
This is extremely difficult: the heart says one thing while the head says another. My heart undoubtedly says that Roma have the ability to knock out Liverpool, especially after what they showed against Barcelona; however, my head says Liverpool’s potent attack could prove too much. I think the Reds will win the first leg by a score of 3-1. However, anything could happen in Rome – as we saw against Barcelona.
Danny Ings is certain the collective will of Liverpool's players and fans can combine to launch the club into the Champions League final.
AS Roma stand in the way of an eighth appearance in the showpiece of Europe’s elite competition for the Reds, with the first leg of their last-four tie set to take place at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Jürgen Klopp’s team have progressed through the tournament without defeat to date and no side can match the 33 goals plundered during the group stage and two knockout clashes.
Ahead of the initial meeting with Roma, Ings offered insight on the mentality within the Liverpool dressing room – namely, that their justified confidence is offset by the understanding that they simply have to produce again.
“We deserve to go all the way, with how well we’ve done and the teams we’ve had to go past on the way,” the striker, who ended his 930-day wait for a goal on Saturday, told Liverpoolfc.com.
“But there’s still a lot of work to do. The lads are hungry, you can see it every day – and I’m not just talking about the Champions League, I’m talking about the Premier League. The lads are hungry every day in training.
“We all want to be successful. It’s unbelievable to be a part of. Hopefully that hard work and determination, plus our quality, can take us all the way.”
As it was in the quarter-final clash with Manchester City, the Anfield atmosphere is certain to be a contributory factor to the events of the first leg.
“It’s quite hard to describe because I’ve never been part of anything like it before,” said Ings.
“The atmosphere as you’re playing, for every minute, is just exceptional. It is credit to Liverpool and credit to the fans – they want it so bad and it really does help us.
“It’s important to be focused and we’re all together as one and give it our all, because this is a great opportunity in front of us and it’s important we take it with both hands.”
Roma booked their place in the semi-finals with one of the greatest comebacks of recent years.
Trailing 4-1 from the first leg of their tie against FC Barcelona, the Serie A side shut out the Spaniards – maintaining their record of having not conceded at home in the Champions League this term – and scored the three they needed to go through via the away goals rule.
And nobody within the Reds camp is underestimating Eusebio Di Francesco’s outfit.
“We knew that any team we drew in the Champions League was going to be very tough. And I think Roma are going to be very difficult; Italian teams are always tactically very, very good,” added Ings.
“So it’s going to be hard to break them down. But, with our quality and our work-rate, it’s going to be a very exciting tie for sure. It is all about the preparation, the training and, mentally, taking it like it’s any other game. And hopefully we’ll get through to the final.”
Last Updated: 23/04/18 11:04pmJurgen Klopp says Liverpool's semi final is not a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity
Jurgen Klopp has likened Liverpool's habit of blowing teams away in concentrated spells to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United sides.
Liverpool scored three goals in 19 first-half minutes to take their Champions League quarter-final tie away from Manchester City, ultimately winning the tie 5-1 on aggregate.
Klopp looks set to employ a similar tactic when they welcome Roma to Anfield for their semi-final first leg on Tuesday, after admitting he wants to use it to the same effect as rivals Manchester United in the 1990s and 2000s.
"Is there something with Alex Ferguson, Man United," said Klopp. "At a specific time they scored always twice?Manchester United won the 1999 Champions League final with two stoppage-time goals
"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."Klopp was unable to stop laughing when listening to the Italian translator at his press conference Klopp was unable to stop laughing when listening to the Italian translator at his press conference
Klopp insists Liverpool's chance to reach a Champions League final should not be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in what will be their first semi-final in Europe's elite club competition for a decade.
He 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."Tuesday's Super 6
Could you be the next Super 6 £250k jackpot winner? Enter your predictions for free here.
Long-term absentees aside, Jürgen Klopp oversaw preparations for the Champions League semi-final first leg against AS Roma with a full squad.
Liverpool’s training session on the eve of the clash at Anfield featured all of the players not already suffering an extended spell on the sidelines, including right-back Nathaniel Clyne after he missed Saturday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion due to a muscle issue.
Mohamed Salah immediately re-joined his teammates in their preparations after travelling to London to collect the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award on Sunday night.
The Egypt international, who spent two seasons with Roma before signing for Liverpool, and Roberto Firmino are the only players to have featured in all of the Reds’ 12 European fixtures this season.
Emre Can and Adam Lallana remain out of action, while Joel Matip will not play again in 2017-18.
Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco was coy on a potential starting XI and system for the game at Anfield during his pre-match press conference at the stadium on Monday evening.
But he did reveal his intention to make a straight decision between Cengiz Under and Patrik Schick for one of the spots in his attacking set-up for the first leg.
“I don’t like to talk about the line-up,” the Italian, whose side eliminated FC Barcelona in the previous round, told the media. “Under against Schick, one of the two will play tomorrow – it’s a 50-50 issue.
“[We have] two systems of play, a four or three-man defence and I’ll decide depending on the rival. The most important thing is the philosophy, to have the same idea of going forward and defending.”
Liverpool experience their first Champions League semi-final since 2008 when Roma visit Anfield on Tuesday, looking for a first-leg advantage.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 – 7.45pm (BST)
Champions League Semi-Final First Leg
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
Even the most positive Liverpool fan would struggle to have tipped the Reds to reach the last four of Europe’s biggest competition back in August.
It was always clear that they had quality in their ranks, and an impressive 3-0 pre-season win at Bayern Munich further raised expectations, but this has still been a surprise.
Klopp has turned his team into one of the most feared attacking outfits on the continent, and they are now favourites to reach the final in Kiev on May 26.
Standing between Liverpool and a place at the showcase event at the Olympic Stadium is a Roma side who are formidable in their own right.
They will feel as though their name is on the trophy after an incredible comeback against much-fancied Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
The Giallorossi have proven quality from front to back, and if Klopp’s men underestimate the third-placed Serie A side it could spell big trouble.
Newly crowned PFA Player of the Year Mohamed Salah faces his former club having blossomed into one of Europe’s best footballers, and his influence will be so key over the two legs.
By beating runaway Premier League champions Man City 5-1 on aggregate in the last round, Liverpool have shown they can beat anyone on their day, and they must approach Tuesday’s meeting with the same level of ruthlessness.
It is vital that they take a lead with them to Stadio Olimpico next Wednesday, in front of an Anfield crowd that will produce an unbelievable noise.
The biggest match in a decade? Quite possibly.Team News
In midfield, Klopp has a slight selection headache, with four players battling for three starting berths.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is in a rich vein of form, and not starting him would be a big mistake, with the 24-year-old giving the midfield an extra dimension of late.
Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco has no new injury problems, but Rick Karsdorp and Gregoire Defrel are both missing.Last 5 vs. Roma (All Competitions)
Liverpool 2-0 Roma – March 19, 2002 (Litmanen, Heskey)
Roma 0-0 Liverpool – December 5, 2001
Liverpool 0-1 Roma – February 21, 2001 (Guigou)
Roma 0-2 Liverpool – February 15, 2001 (Owen x2)
Liverpool 1-1 Roma (Liverpool won 4-2 on pens) – May 30, 1984 (Neal; Pruzzo)
Liverpool have been in three Champions League semi-finals since the competition replaced the European Cup in 1992.
All three ties have been against Chelsea, with the Reds winning the first two, in 2005 and 2007, before the Blues got their revenge in 2008.Form
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Roma – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 3-0 vs. Spal
Won 2-1 vs. Genoa
Drew 0-0 vs. Lazio
Won 3-0 vs. Barcelona
Lost 2-0 vs. Fiorentina
As touched upon, Roma are not a team Liverpool should be taking lightly—if you reach the semi-finals you clearly have something about you.
Di Francesco’s side got through a group containing Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Qarabag, which further sums up their pedigree. They defeated the Blues 3-0 at home.
Roma then got the better of Shakhtar Donetsk on away goals in the last 16, before their staggering triumph over Barcelona in the quarters, overturning a 4-1 first-leg deficit to win 3-0 in the return fixture.
In Alisson, the Italian’s have one of the best goalkeepers in world football, with the 25-year-old keeping Man City stopper Ederson out of Brazil’s starting lineup ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
Goalscoring hero against Barcelona, Kostas Manolas, is an excellent centre-back, while Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman are a vastly experienced midfield trio.
Edin Dzeko has thrived at Roma, and his aerial presence and finishing ability will be a major threat to Liverpool’s back line over the two matches.
Predicted Roma starting XI (3-5-2): Alisson; Fazio, Manolas, Juan Jesus; Florenzi, Strootman, De Rossi, Nainggolan, Kolarov; Schick, DzekoKlopp’s View
Speaking to the press at Melwood on Monday, Klopp shrugged off the fact that this wasn’t necessarily the semi-final many predicted:
“People would have thought this semi-final would usually be Man City vs. Barcelona…but it’s not, because it’s football. We made it possible and Roma as well.
“I thought [Roma’s comeback would be] ‘not possible’, because the opposition is Barcelona, but I love the game because it is possible.
“We did something similar. It has been an outstanding season for City, but in these two games we deserved to win. Now, we play against each other.
“If anyone thinks we are the underdogs, who cares? We are in the semi-finals, we can go to the final, that’s all I care about.”TV & Live Blog Info
The match is live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm (BST) with kickoff at 7.45pm.
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is sure to be a nervy figure in the studio, alongside Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard.
Ben Twelves will be in charge of our matchday live blog from 7pm, to talk you through what will hopefully be a great night at Anfield.
The moment has finally arrived.
The build-up is done, anticipation is at boiling point and the Reds now begin the final push to earn a shot at winning European Cup No.6.
The tie reignites a historic rivalry with Roma, who the Reds famously defeated in Rome to win No.4 back in 1984, and the Italians will see this as a chance to finally take long-awaited revenge.
But this is undoubtedly a winnable tie for the Reds and after making changes at West Brom, Klopp will restore his big guns to take the game to Eusebio Di Francesco’s men.
Those changes at the Hawthorns gave big clues as to what the lineup will be on Tuesday, so here is how Liverpool are likely to start.Team News
[embedded content]Liverpool’s XI vs. Roma
Klopp’s selection at West Brom near enough confirmed the starting XI for the first leg, with those rotated nailed on to come back in.
We will certainly see Alexander-Arnold, Robertson and Lovren all return to defence, with Virgil van Dijk the only survivor from Saturday’s draw with the Baggies.
You can also say with 100 per cent certainty that Firmino will be back in the front three along with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, who will be looking to grab his 42nd goal of the season against his former club.
And after being rested on Saturday Oxlade-Chamberlain seems likely to enter midfield, but this leaves an interesting decision for Klopp in how to reshape the vital central unit.
The boss will know the Reds need another dominant first leg performance to ensure there’s an advantage to take to Italy.
So this could persuade Klopp to go with the same high-energy, aggressive midfield that dominated Man City in the Anfield quarter-final.
This would see the all English trio of Henderson, Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain start in an attempt to overpower the visitors, with Gini Wijnaldum on the bench.
With no viable or logical alternative defensive and attacking selections, it is only midfield where Klopp faces a genuinely tough decision.
And rather than mirroring his approach against City, the boss could take a different route by fielding a more solid, controlling midfield featuring Wijnaldum.
Klopp could favour the Dutchman’s composure and a calming influence, while holding Oxlade-Chamberlain’s attacking drive and power in reserve to be introduced when Roma tire.
A more conservative, but just as capable, Reds lineup could look like this:
Regardless of how Klopp shapes his midfield, both selections are extremely strong and capable of earning the vital first-leg lead needed to take to the Italian capital.
Mohamed Salah can't wait to reacquaint with old friends when Liverpool face his former club AS Roma in the Champions League semi-finals.
The 25-year-old spent two seasons in the Italian capital prior to his move to Anfield, becoming a firm fan favourite over the course of his 83 appearances.
As such, an emotional reunion awaits Salah when he comes up against his old teammates to compete for a place in the final of Europe's premier cup competition over two legs.
The Egyptian is already looking forward to the tie, but insists sentiment won't get in the way of his desire to progress.
He told Premier League Productions: "I played for Roma for two years, I had a great time with the club, with the fans, I fought for the club and now I have to play against them.
"We text each other, as players, every week - we're still good friends.
"I'm very excited to go there and I love the fans, they love me, [there are] more emotions.
"I hope we are going to win but also I wish them good luck."
Salah stands just three games from capping his debut campaign at Anfield with the biggest prize in European football, and the significance of the opportunity ahead is not lost on the winger.
He added: "It's something huge if you win the Champions League for a club like Liverpool.
"It's something different for us as players, for the city, for the fans, for everyone, I am sure we will fight for that 100 per cent."
Shortly after arriving in Liverpool on Monday afternoon, the AS Roma squad visited Anfield to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster, in a touching gesture.
The Italian club’s entire travelling squad and staff visited the memorial to the 96 children, women and men who were unlawfully killed in the 1989 tragedy.
There, they laid a wreath and took a few moments to remember those who died at Hillsborough.
The Reds head into their first Champions League semi-final for a decade on the back of the 41-goal Egypt international being crowned PFA Player of the Year.
Salah’s success has contributed in a large part to the January departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142million barely being mentioned let alone felt by the team.
However, manager Jurgen Klopp did admit the Brazil international’s exit was painful, saying: “We lost Phil Coutinho – that is not a hobby, it doesn’t even feel like fun.”
But until the Reds, five-time winners of the European Cup, become a consistent force in Europe again they always leave themselves open to the possibility of more successful clubs picking off their best players.
Henderson hopes Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final first leg at home to Roma will be a stepping stone to that situation changing.
“He’s up there with the world’s best so obviously there will be other clubs who want to take him away,” said Henderson, who revealed he voted for Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne – Salah’s main rival – for the PFA award.
“But I feel like he’s in a great place with a great set of lads and a great manager going in the right direction.
“We want to create our own history here and I’m sure that Mo wants to be part of that. He’s a big part of that now and I’m sure he will be for many years to come.
“He’s been fantastic throughout the season. His record and his stats speaks for themselves.
“He’s been a massive player for us this season and hopefully he can continue that form over the next few weeks.”
Henderson heads into arguably his biggest game as Liverpool captain, having been an unused substitute in the Europa League final defeat to Sevilla two years ago as he was not fully fit.
He is therefore keen to make the most of this opportunity, and others he hopes will come their way under Klopp’s guidance.
“Since the manager came to the club we’ve improved every season,” he added.
“I feel as though I’ve improved a lot since he came to the football club and hopefully I can improve a lot more over the next few years.
“He’s one of the best managers in the world. Tactically, it goes without saying how knowledgeable he is within the game.
“Off the field, he’s a fantastic human. Very genuine and has great passion for football which transcends throughout the team.
“He always keeps you on your toes, he’s always pushing you to improve, he’s always maintaining high standards.
“He’s an amazing manager and everyone in the squad feels privileged to be working with him.
“Hopefully this is the start of something special with this squad. It’s a huge game.”