Breaking News: Liverpool vs AS Roma: 5 things to watch out for in the UEFA Champions League semi- final clash
What to expect from the UCL semi-final clash between Liverpool and AS Roma
It’s semi-final time in the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool locking horns with AS Roma at Anfield. Considering the manner in which both teams qualified for the semi-finals, the much-anticipated match is surely going to be a treat to watch.
The two sides have been drawn only five times against each other, with Liverpool winning three of the encounters and drawing one. AS Roma have defeated Liverpool only once in 2001 even though they lost the tie 2-1 on aggregate.
Liverpool steamrolled the recently crowned English Champions Manchester City, by a margin of 5-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals. AS Roma stunned Barcelona to storm into the semi-finals.
Let us have a look at the five things one should watch out for, in the match.
#1 The PFA Player of the Year – Mohammed Salah
When Mohammed Salah chose to sign for Liverpool in the summer, from AS Roma, not many expected him to shine like the way he has. He has set the Premier League on fire and has scored a record 31 Premier League goals this season, tying with Luis Suarez, Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo for the most number of goals in a season. He is definitely going to make the record his own, with Liverpool having three more games to play.
He has been a revelation this season for the Reds and has become a vital cog in their attack. A total of 42 goals this season has sent him ahead of Lionel Messi in the race for the European Golden Boot. He was recently adjudged as the ‘Premier League Player of the Year’ and looks hungry to snap up a few more accolades.
He could very well prove to be the difference for Liverpool in the semi-final with his speed, dribbling and his finishing skills. It surely will be a trip down memory lane for the Egyptian, who had a wonderful spell with Roma last season.
#2 AS Roma’s attacking arsenal
AS Roma’s match against Barcelona in the second leg quarter-final clash will be remembered as one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the Champions League. The Giallorossi clawed back into the tie and won it on away goals.
Roma may be the underdogs in their clash against the Reds because they are playing in a European semi-final after a long time. However, they do possess ample amount of attacking firepower in their squad which could devastate opposition defenses on their day.
Leading the line is the mighty Bosnian Edin Dzeko, who has scored vital goals for the team. He is assisted on the flanks by the dynamic Stephan El Shaarawy, Diego Perotti and Cengiz Under.
The Roma midfield has Danielle de Rossi as the captain of the ship, along with Kevin Strootman. The presence of Radja Nainggolan is a huge boost to the entire team as he can single-handedly change attack into defense.
Will the Roma attack be able to pile on the pressure on Liverpool?
#3 Suspect Liverpool defence
Liverpool have an explosive attacking force that can be compared to the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris St. Germain. Yet their weakest link this season has been their defense.
The Reds have drawn 11 of their Premier League games; no other Premier League side in the top six has drawn more than 10 games.
But ever since Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton in January, things have been on the sunny side up for the Reds. Dejan Lovren has not been up to the mark and Joel Matip is not having the best of seasons.
The Reds bottled a 2-0 lead in the last match against West Bromwich Albion before drawing 2-2. This has happened many times this season, and hence has deprived the Reds of complete dominance over opponents.
Even though their defense has defenders who are capable to shut down strikers completely, they have failed to do so very often. That is a major worry for Jurgen Klopp, because it leaves goalkeeper Loris Karius vulnerable.
Will the shaky Liverpool defense be able to contain Edin Dzeko and his compatriots?
#4 The tactical battle: Klopp vs Di Francesco
Jurgen Klopp has built a name for himself since becoming manager of Borussia Dortmund and has established himself as one of the best managers in Europe. He has transformed Liverpool into a free-flowing unit that scores goals for fun.
Klopp’s style of play is to continuously be on guard and attack the ball with pressing high up the field, even when the opposition is in possession. This forces the opposition to commit mistakes, and the goals are then scored on the counter. Closing down passing spaces causes a lot of problem for the opposition.
Eusebio Di Francesco, the Roma manager, used to play for the same team he manages today and won the Italian Serie A with Roma back in 2001. His stint with Sassuolo was praised for his tactical genius.
Di Francesco’s team like to defend deep and focus on closing down the opposition before they can reach the box, along with tight marking. He uses his wing backs and wingers very effectively, who often combine with the centre-forwards to constantly change positions and create havoc in opposition defenses.
It will be a very intense battle of tactics. But who will gain the upper hand and emerge victorious?
#5 The dream attacking lineup of Liverpool
When Phillippe Coutinho left Liverpool to join Barcelona in January, no one expected Liverpool to recover so soon and refill the void left by Coutinho. Since then, they have become stronger with each passing game.
The attack is led by the Brazilian Roberto Firmino, who has scored 24 goals this season and assisted 11 times. He is flanked by the unstoppable Mohammed Salah on the right and Sadio Mane on the left, who often terrorize the opposition with his pace.
Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke are two dependable substitutes who can chip in goals whenever required.
In the midfield, captain Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum boss the proceedings and control the tempo of the game. The midfield-engine James Milner, takes the left midfielder slot, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes the right midfielder slot, sometimes switching over to the right winger position if the need arises.
The Liverpool attack is a dream attacking lineup for any manager. Could they defeat the high-flying Roma team or will they be the victims? Only time will tell.