UCL Semi-Final: Liverpool v Roma Preview (First Leg)

Three soccer players, two wearing blue and one in red

Our football pundit previews the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final clash between Liverpool and Roma, which takes place on Tuesday the 24th of April 2018.  

It’s fair to say that Liverpool have got the best draw they could possibly hope for, but after witnessing what Roma did to Barcelona – as well as Chelsea and Atletico Madrid earlier in the campaign – the Italian side will be no pushovers.

The Reds cannot afford to switch off, and I’m almost 100% sure that Jurgen Klopp will have a chat with former Roma starlet, Mohamed Salah, about how to cope with the dangers that the Wolves of Italy pose. As we’ve seen before, there is no straightforward fixtures in the UEFA Champions League, especially in the latter stages. So right now, I’m giving both of these teams a 50-50 chance of going through.

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UEFA Champions League Semi-Final | First Leg | Tuesday 24 April | Anfield | 20:45

To Win (90 Mins)
Liverpool 5/10
Draw 34/10
AS Roma 5/1

Liverpool will be aiming for a sixth UEFA Champions League triumph when they prepare for their first leg at Anfield. After beating Manchester City, who were dubbed as the best team in Europe at the time, the Reds will certainly fancy their chances against Roma. However, if they show an ounce of complacency, they could get hurt.

Luckily, though, Liverpool haven’t done that so far in the competition. If they had, they probably would’ve found themselves playing on Thursday nights rather than earlier in the week.

With not much left to play for domestically, Jurgen Klopp has prioritised the Champions League as his must-win competition, giving the likes of Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino a rest in the Premier League before his quarter-final decider against City.

Those two, along with Sadio Mane, have proven to be one of the most feared attacking trios in world football. The pace of Mane, the trickery of Firmino and the sheer class of Salah make them a joy to watch on any given day. And despite their prowess in attack, the Reds have not conceded a goal at Anfield in their last four Champions League matches.

AS Roma
Roma may be known as the Wolves, but we cannot look past the term “dark-horses” when you give them a mention. From the start, the Romans were completely written off. The managed to make it out of their group, which consisted of both Chelsea and Atletico Madrid – a feat deemed impossible to imagine.

They then gave a solid display against Shakhtar Donetsk, before producing their best performance of their season, beating Barcelona 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma have also shown that they have big match temperament, beating two of their toughest challengers 3-0 at home (Chelsea and Barca).

Roma are in an unfamiliar semi-final spot and it’s easy to see why everyone is ruling them out, but when you look at their line-up, off the top of my head, quite a few of their stars would make the Liverpool team.

Alisson Becker, who has been linked with a move to the Reds, Kostas Manolas and Radja Nainggolan would walk into Klopp’s team, while Eusebio Di Francesco also has the likes of Edin Dzeko, Kevin Strootman and Alessandro Florenzi to bolster his squad.

Alisson is yet to concede a goal at home in the Champions League for Roma this season, however, it’s the clubs away form that needs to be sorted out if they are to have any chance against Liverpool.

Verdict: Liverpool (5/10)
Liverpool have been absolutely superb this season, and although Roma come off the back of knocking Barcelona out of the competition, the Reds should still prove too strong at Anfield. Alisson may have denied Lionel Messi from scoring against him, but Liverpool’s front three seem to be unstoppable at the moment.

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