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Breaking News: 3 Things Roma need to do to beat Liverpool and reach the Champions League final


Roma need to beat Liverpool by a comprehensive margin to advance – and this is how they can do it

First Leg Score: Liverpool 5 – 2 Roma

Mohammed Salah led a brilliant evisceration of Roma that saw him walk off the Anfield pitch to one of the loudest rounds of applause the grand ol’ stadium has seen and with the scorecard reading 5-0. Game, set, match then… till the last 10 minutes when Liverpool inexplicably imploded and hanged on for dear life – conceding 2 goals that could just make the difference in the tie.

Hanging on to that glimmer, we outline three things Roma could to do to beat Liverpool…

#3 Drop deeper, and play a flat-ish back five

The Romans started the game like they did against Barcelona in the second leg, a 3-5-2 with a high, high line, pressing the opponents back, packing midfield and stopping Liverpool from playing through the middle. This worked for 20 odd minutes till Liverpool suddenly remembered who they had up top. Playing simple balls long, in-behind the Roman defence, Mohammed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane absolutely smashed them with a combination of raw pace and intelligent movement… the higher the line went, the more Roma suffered.

This tactic had worked against Barcelona because neither Luis Suarez nor Leo Messi had the pace, or the type of game, to run in behind Roma. Eusebio Di Francesco might well decide to drop his line deeper; make sure the line remains a flat five. Florenzi and Kolarov went missing in action at Anfield, and it proved costly every time – and at any given point in time at least one of them need to be back there to ensure Roman defenders outnumber Liverpudlian forwards. There’s no point in Roma scoring 3 goals if they concede any at the other end – and a solid defence is where it all should start.

Make Italy proud, Eusebio.

#2 Cramp midfield, force the defenders to play it long

Now, it’d only be natural of you to think of me as a fool – if Roma, and their brilliant midfield trio, cramp midfield, they’ll have to push up the pitch to stop Liverpool’s midfielders receiving the ball at their feet. Having advocated that the defence sit deep, this would leave acres of space in between midfield and defence; usually a suicidal ploy. If they’d done it against Barca, for example, they’d not be here at all… but Liverpool lack what Barca had, what most teams have, a creative attacking midfielder.

Liverpool’s forward line is most dangerous when running in behind defences, not running at them – and such a ploy would stop them playing their natural game. Once the defenders start playing it long, as long as the Roman line is in place – those three forwards are not winning any duels in the air against the Roman defenders.

#1 Play Edin Dzeko and Patrick Schick up top

Edin Dzeko plays his best football when partnered with a natural striker up top – his lack of chemistry with the young Cengiz Under was painfully obvious and with Diego Perotti unlikely to feature due to injury, playing the front two that absolutely bullied the Barcelona back-line makes the most sense for Di Francesco.

The two big men, and they are Big men, tormented Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique that historic night in Rome, and they’d be looking to do the same to Dejan Lovren (always good value for a mistake or two) and Virgil Van Dijk (the most pressure he’s played football under in his career so far) – while at the same time trying to isolate themselves against Liverpool’s inexperienced fullbacks when the ball goes up in the air.

With the midfield pushed up to support them, this could just give them the support necessary to pull off the impossible.

It’d take a bloody miracle for Roma to reach the final… but then, that’s what football is all about, neh?


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