The 5-1 aggregate win over Manchester City would’ve made even the most sceptic of Liverpool fans dream – could this be our year?
Friday’s draw was certainly kind, with Liverpool matched against AS Roma for the semi-final of the Champions League. Avoiding European heavyweights in Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Jurgen Klopp’s side have a very real chance of making it all the way to the final.
History’s certainly on their side.
Liverpool’s last competitive game against Roma was in the group stages of the Champions League back in 2002; the first-leg ended in a 0-0 draw before Emile Heskey and Jari Litmanen produced two goals to seal the win at Anfield.
2001 produced a similar outcome a year earlier, with Liverpool going on to win the UEFA Cup after a double from Michael Owen led Gerard Houllier’s side through.
The Reds have lost just one of their five previous meetings with the Italians in all competitions (W2 D2), one of which came via penalties in the 1983/1984 European Cup final through Alan Kennedy.
Liverpool have produced some eye-catching performances on their road to the semi-finals. A 5-0 win against previously unbeaten Porto away from home sent out a real statement of intent from the English side, while scoring five goals against the Premier League Champions elect represents no small feat.
The game will bring back fond memories for one player in particular. Scoring 34 goals in 83 games for Roma, Salah’s gone from strength to strength on Merseyside, picking up numerous individual awards while surpassing Fernando Torres and Robbie Fowler’s goal-scoring records at the club.
The semi-final against Manchester City saw him stretch his tally to 39 goals for the season, placing him as the joint second top goal-scorer in Europe’s top five leagues, behind Ronaldo and on par with Lionel Messi.
Alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, the trio scored 79 goals between them this season alone and will provide a real threat to Roma’s back-line.
Yet, Liverpool should rightfully be wary of underestimating their opponents. They beat Chelsea 3-0 back in October and were superior in every department while equally convincing wins against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona offer an insight into just how dangerous this Roma side can be.
Liverpool will be happy with Roma, but it's a dangerous tie. Dzeko, De Rossi, Nainggolan etc are good enough to cause an upset. Still fancy Lpool, though…
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) April 13, 2018
In a week of scintillating football, it was the Italians who stood out, recording a stunning comeback from 4-1 down to knock out the La Liga heavyweights. A pleasant piece of karma for Coutinho aside, the result was a real statement from Eusebio Di Francesco’s side and it’ll see them carry huge momentum into the semi-finals.
Edin Dzeko was the instigator of Tuesday’s fightback and will no-doubt be integral to Roma’s hopes of surpassing Liverpool. Likewise, Daniele De Rossi and match-winner Kostas Manolas reflect the strength of the Italian outfit going forward. Their defensive record is equally as impressive, having not conceded a goal at home in the Champions League this season.
They too, won’t be fearful.
Roma will by no means be pushovers, but this was very much the best possible draw for Liverpool, allowing Mohamed Salah a return to Rome and fans the opportunity to dream of yet more European glory.
After all, the last time the four semi-finalists were from Italy, England, Germany and Spain, Liverpool were crowned winners.