Champions League Semi Final Preview – Liverpool vs Roma

There’s a massive game at Anfield tonight, as Liverpool host Roma in the Champions League semi-final first leg. The game is set to kick off at 7:45pm.

This game is absolutely huge for Liverpool. They would have been absolutely delighted when they saw Roma being drawn alongside them, and they know they are big favourites to get to the final at this stage. Obviously, Roma didn’t get here by accident and can’t be underestimated, but Liverpool will be hugely disappointed with themselves if they don’t win tonight. They have the quality to really hurt Roma and I would be very surprised if they didn’t.

They’ll be looking to take a healthy lead into the second leg, and I think they will do that. They obviously have to be wary of Roma’s threat, but I can see them going to Italy next week with a couple of goals in the bag. I think they’ll have far too much quality for Roma and should beat them without too many issues.

Am I doing what Liverpool’s players can’t do and underestimating the Italians though? I could well be. I’ll have a look at Roma in a minute and we’ll see how they’re doing. Surely Liverpool will have too much firepower for them regardless though? They’re just so good going forward, and there aren’t many teams that can live with them when they attack you relentlessly. They’re going to do that again tonight, and they’ll more than likely reap the rewards for their fearless attacking style, just like they did against Man City.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last seven games, so are coming into this on a good run of form. They’re also unbeaten in this season’s Champions League, so they can take huge confidence from that. Anfield will be rocking tonight, as it always is on a big Champions League night, and that could make all the difference. Roma’s players may be a little bit shaken up by the occasion, and it could get the better of them. They’ll likely have their bus welcomed in a similar style to Man City’s as well, but let’s hope the fans behave themselves and don’t start throwing things again. There’s nothing wrong with giving them a hostile reception, but they need to show respect as well.

Mo Salah comes into this game with confidence running through him after he won the PFA Premier League Player of the Year on Sunday. It’s well deserved as he has been absolutely phenomenal this season. How will he do tonight against his former team though? They’ll probably give him special attention, but everyone does that and it’s not often they stop them. Will they be a bit harder on him than they normally would because he used to play for them? I wonder if playing against his former team will affect him in any way. I doubt it will, and I can see him scoring once again tonight.

Jurgen Klopp said: “Nobody thought after the first result that they can have the kind of comeback against Barcelona because it’s not usually possible.

“They can make seven or eight changes for their last league game and look comfortable and win which is a big advantage. But then being at Anfield is an advantage to us as well.

“They have a full squad available. They have different options offensively, a strong defence, the wingers or wing-backs are strong, it all looks settled, fit and experienced.

“It’s a semi-final which is a big thing for them like us. You will see two excited teams and that’s good for football.”

Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Joel Matip will miss out for Liverpool, but Nathaniel Clyne trained yesterday.

How will Roma set up for this one? Will they go all Italian on it and try to grind out a result or will they go for it and try to win the game and go to Rome for next week’s second leg with an away goal? My money is on the former, but we’ll have to wait and see. Surely they’ll be looking to keep it tight as they know how dangerous the Reds are going forward. They can’t park the bus either, because they’ll be broken down eventually, but I think they have to be a bit cautious.

They’re being underestimated a bit, and I realise I’m probably underestimating them as well, but they’re a good team. You don’t get to the semi-final of the Champions League by accident. They won their group, which contained Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. They beat the Blues 3-0 in Rome, while they drew 3-3 with them at Stamford Bridge. They then went on to beat Shakhtar Donetsk in the last-16, and came from behind to beat Barcelona in the quarter-final. The Barcelona game, in particular, was amazing. You know this by now, but after a 4-1 defeat at the Camp Nou they turned the game around the beat the Catalans 3-0 in Rome. It was amazing.

They’re currently third in Serie A, but they trail the leaders, Juventus, by 18 points. They’re in a battle to finish in the Champions League qualification places, as Lazio are level on points with them and Inter Milan are only one point behind them. They seem to be a decent team, but they’re nowhere near the calibre of the top teams in this competition.

They obviously have a tremendous team spirit though, because you don’t beat Barcelona 3-0 without it. They’ll all be on the pitch fighting for each other tonight, and that can make a real difference. It would be an upset if they managed to win this game tonight, but they’ll probably enjoy the tag of underdogs.

I think this will be a very interesting game, but it’s one Liverpool should win. I think they’ll be going out there trying to put this tie to bed tonight. They’ll be looking to really get at the Italians, and they have more than enough quality to do that. I’m not sure there’s a team in Europe that can deal with Liverpool’s amazing front three, and they will be extremely dangerous tonight as always.

The team news will be out at 6:45pm, and you’ll get that up here as well. I’ll be watching the game, and you can follow it with me on Twitter. I’ll probably miss the first 15 minutes or so, but I hope it won’t be any longer than that. Enjoy the game.

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