Kennedy and McAllister share their Roma memories

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 11:15

Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final meeting with AS Roma brings back some special memories for two particular Liverpool legends.

Alan Kennedy will always be remembered as the man who scored winning goals in two separate European Cup finals for the Reds.

The second of those crucial strikes came from the penalty spot against Roma in their own backyard at the Stadio Olimpico in 1984.

Gary McAllister, the inspired Gerard Houllier signing who was key to the treble-winning 2000-01 season, also shone against the Italians in a huge game.

The Scot played a vital role in a fourth-round UEFA Cup victory that preceded the Reds lifting the trophy after beating Alaves in a thrilling final later that year.

Ahead of Liverpool and Roma renewing their rivalry, the former Anfield duo shared their memories of previous encounters - read on to relive these special moments.

Alan Kennedy

“We were a good team and we didn’t fear anybody at that particular time. Going to face Roma in Rome, we knew it was going to be difficult. When we travelled away from home in Europe we wanted to keep their crowd quiet. I think it all started in the tunnel when we were stood next to the Roma players. They looked nice and relaxed and it was their home game so they were probably the favourites.

“The team talk wasn’t that much different to any other game so we were quite relaxed when we went out onto the pitch, although you do feel the crowd and the intimidation of the crowd when you come out of the tunnel.

“The game itself we set out to try and keep their fans quiet and to try and control the game, keep the ball. We had people like Ian Rush who was a fantastic goalscorer, Kenny Dalglish who played in the midfield that night.

“We got off to a great start when our right-back Phil Neal scored. He started the move and finished it off. We all relaxed a little bit after that. Pruzzo then scored with a wonderful header before half-time and it was a poor time for us to give away a goal.

“It then came to penalties and I wasn’t actually nominated in the pre-penalty shootout takers. After 90 minutes and extra-time our manager Joe Fagan had made a few substitutions and it was a case of who was on the pitch and who wasn’t and we were all looking at each other. The manager came to me and said, ‘Are you okay?' I said I was and the next minute I’d been nominated to take a penalty, but I didn’t know that at first!

“Steve Nicol took our first penalty and he missed it. It was then my turn to take the penalty and none of the players had any confidence in what I was going to do. I knew that anyway and I wanted to prove them wrong. The important thing for me was to hit the target.

“They say never change your mind which way you are going to put the ball. It was the best thing I ever did to change my mind! I put it to the right of [Franco] Tancredi, the ball hit the back of the net and I ran off towards the Liverpool players. They were actually stunned, he’s actually scored!”

Gary McAllister

“Although this was 17 years ago, I remember it very well, especially the game in Anfield. In Rome it was strange because Roma dominated the game but it was two opportunist strikes from Michael Owen that got us the win, very typical Owen.

“2-0 is a difficult result coming back to Anfield because do you try and protect it or get the third goal? Roma scored first and they were playing very well again, enjoying good spells of possession.

“They were a good team with people like [Vincent] Candela, [Vincenzo] Montella, [Gabriel] Batistuta, Walter Samuel, so fantastic players and you tend to forget how good they were back then.

“Obviously the referee gave an amazing decision. I was directly behind the referee and it looked to me as if it were a penalty. He pointed to the penalty spot but then strangely changed his hand and then there was a change of mind! I remember Batistuta running to grab the ball as though he was going to take a corner and I think that’s what swayed the referee. I thought it was a handball.

“We went on to beat Barcelona in the semi-final and then Alaves in the final so it just goes to show you do need a little bit of luck.”

Categories: LFC NEWS

QUIZ: How well do you remember Liverpool FC’s Champions League semi-finals?

ThisIsAnfield.com - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 11:00

As Liverpool make a return to the semi-finals of the Champions League, test your knowledge of the Reds’ previous fortunes at this stage of the competition.

The Reds are all set to feature in the last-four stage for the first time since 2008, with two tough but winnable ties to be played against historic Italian rivals Roma.

Liverpool have reached this stage of the Champions League (not including European Cup) on three previous occasions, with some unforgettable, incredible and heart-breaking moments along the way.

But how well do you remember the previous encounters? Put your knowledge to the test by taking the 12 questions below. Good luck!

Categories: LFC NEWS

'It means everything' - Trent on semi-final buzz

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 11:00
Trent Alexander-Arnold will step out onto the Anfield pitch this evening fully aware of what Liverpool featuring in a Champions League semi-final means to the club's supporters.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool Ladies home kit for 2018-19 revealed

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 11:00
Liverpool Ladies' New Balance home kit for the 2018-19 season was revealed today and fans can now pre-order the strip ahead of its release on Friday May 11.
Categories: LFC NEWS

'It means everything' - Trent on semi-final buzz

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 11:00

Trent Alexander-Arnold will step out onto the Anfield pitch this evening fully aware of what Liverpool featuring in a Champions League semi-final means to the club's supporters.

It is 10 years since the Reds previously reached the last four of Europe's premier cup competition, and the buzz around the city is palpable, according to Trent.

As such, the Scouse teenager is even more determined to reward the support of fans who have waited so long for a taste of glory by helping Jürgen Klopp's team past AS Roma and into the final.

He told UEFA: "It means everything. I think the fans and the club as a whole have been really patient. 

"We’re happy to be back in the semi-finals, it’s where a club like this belongs, and hopefully we’ll be here many more times in the next few years, and we’ll push on to reach the final and challenge to win it.

"[There's] excitement, just pure excitement in the city, I’d say. It’s been 10 years since we’ve been in the semi-finals, so a lot of people have been waiting 10 long years to be back in this type of situation and to be challenging for silverware going into the last couple of weeks of the season.

"It adds a bit more of a buzz around the club knowing that you’re close to possibly winning something.

"You feel a lot more people taking notice of you around the city, and they want you to do well."

LFCTV GO: Every touch of Trent's brilliant Man City display

The foundations for Liverpool's 5-1 on aggregate win over Manchester City at the quarter-final stage were laid in a 3-0 first-leg victory at a raucous Anfield.

The Reds are at home first again against Roma, and Alexander-Arnold is hoping the club's supporters can play a big part once more.

He added: "We obviously used the atmosphere to our advantage. It was always going to be a hard place for City to come to, to Anfield on a European night. It’s not like the Premier League games, and I think that’s something City underestimated.

"They thought, 'We’ve been there in the league before, we’re used to it, it might not be that special', but it’s completely different on a Champions League night, and I think it might have surprised them. 

"We used it to our advantage and the manager wanted us to play the way we play. To press them high and to play football, and that’s what we did. 

"We made it as hard as possible for them and they never made any clear-cut chances. That’s what we wanted to do, but it was always going to be hard to limit such a lethal attacking force like Man City. The boys pulled through it though, and the game-plan was executed perfectly.

"I remember when the third goal went in I almost had to pinch myself, because it’s pretty much unheard of, going and getting three goals in the first half of a quarter-final. You start to think, 'Wow, this is a dream come true.'

"You get caught up in the atmosphere and the emotions and it can carry you away, but like I said, the managers and the senior players in the team, while we were running back, were all shouting and telling us to focus, to get ready to go again and not to take our foot off the gas, to keep pushing for more, and that’s what we did."

The 19-year-old also rejected suggestions that he and his teammates will underestimate tonight's opponents after avoiding heavyweights Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the draw.

He said: "They’re a huge club and a huge team. Obviously, they’ve done really well to get to where they’ve got to, and I think maybe because of the name people might be underestimating them, but that’s not what’s happening here.

"Obviously, they’re in the same situation as we are – we’re all in the semi-finals, you don’t get there by luck, you get there by hard work and grinding out results, and pulling off comebacks like they did. 

"It was a special night for them in Rome, and we’ll be looking at that and analysing what they did well and what they didn’t do so well and how we can beat them over the two legs and reach the final.

"Obviously, the city of Rome plays a big part in our history, especially in the Champions League, so I guess it would be quite fitting if we could go there and secure our place in the final and get to Kyiv and get that step closer to maybe winning the Champions League."

Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool Ladies home kit for 2018-19 revealed

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 11:00

Liverpool Ladies' New Balance home kit for the 2018-19 season was revealed today and fans can now pre-order the strip ahead of its release on Friday May 11.

The shirt, shorts and socks for next term retain the retro styling and deeper red colour scheme of the current design, which celebrates the club’s 125th anniversary year.

A tipped two-button polo collar has been reintroduced to make the shirt even more wearable, while its front features linear stripes inspired by the landmark architecture of the redeveloped Main Stand at Anfield.

Pre-order the kit in store or online now for guaranteed worldwide delivery on May 11. Junior sizes are also available.

Ladies captain Gemma Bonner said: “Wearing a shirt as famous as ours fills the team with immense pride. As Reds, wearing the Liver bird on our chest means more to us than you could even imagine.

“We’re excited to be wearing the new-look kit in July, and we expect our fans will as well.”

The club will surprise 30 supporters who pre-order any 2018-19 home shirt, selecting them at random to receive their kit for free.

Fans who pre-order a new home shirt will also receive a £10 Liverpool FC retail voucher to spend in store or online between May 11 and June 30.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Klopp: I want Roma to enjoy Liverpool - apart from 90 minutes tonight

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 10:59
Jürgen Klopp wants AS Roma to feel warmth and hospitality from Liverpool for the duration of their visit to Merseyside – but not for 90 minutes on Tuesday night.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Klopp: I want Roma to enjoy Liverpool - apart from 90 minutes tonight

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 10:59

Jürgen Klopp wants AS Roma to feel warmth and hospitality from Liverpool for the duration of their visit to Merseyside – but not for 90 minutes on Tuesday night.

A long-standing friendly rivalry will be reacquainted this evening when the sides contest the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.

Klopp is well aware of the history between the clubs and the special relationship that exists – and he’s keen for that to be embraced once again over the course of the last-four encounter, apart from on the pitch.

The manager wrote in his column for ‘This is Anfield’: “I would like to start these notes by offering a warm welcome to my counterpart Eusebio Di Francesco, his players, staff, the officials and supporters of this great Italian side to Liverpool.

“Rome is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest cities and I cannot wait for our club to visit next week. I know AS Roma have been to Liverpool in the not-too-distant past, but this is a city that keeps growing and improving and I hope our visitors take some time to experience the unique warmth and hospitality that it offers.

“All true Liverpool supporters will want our guests to enjoy every single aspect of coming here except one – the match itself, the 90 minutes. As someone who has come here myself as a guest, I can tell our Italian friends this is one of the most welcoming places you could ever wish to come to, and I trust we can all embrace this feeling of friendship and make sure both matches are remembered for all the right reasons.

“Let’s embrace the joy and passion that comes with European football. Let’s embrace welcoming visitors and different cultures, which are the best values of Europe. Let’s embrace showing each other the very best qualities about our respective homes.

“Eusebio Di Francesco and his Roma team are people we have nothing but total respect for. He is a cool guy, a very talented leader and his players clearly believe in everything he is encouraging them to do. They arrive in a very good moment having won 3-0 away from home at the weekend, so their confidence is rightly high. They have the perfect blend of experience and youthful zest in their team and squad. They are the most dangerous opponent and we will have to be ready to play at our maximum for 180 minutes, minimum,  if we are to even contemplate the possibility of getting through.

“I don’t think any of us need reminding of how Roma reached the semi-finals. I have been fortunate to be involved in some great European football comebacks – and Liverpool of course is a club renowned for it. However, the Roma result against Barcelona must be towards the top of any list that is drawn up on this topic. It tells me that whatever happens tonight, this semi-final will be alive and contested to the last second and kick of the game at the Stadio Olimpico. AS Roma are smart enough to know the same applies to us.

“Both sides and both clubs embody the spirit that it is never over until it is over, and that will make this intense and special I am sure. In terms of ourselves, I know the players are fully aware of the levels they’ll need to perform at.

“One of the many things I love about this team is that they manage to find that balance of respect for the opposition, without letting it diminish our own attributes. We make it about us and what we can do – but not in an arrogant way. This was very evident against Manchester City over the two legs, but also in the previous rounds.

“To be successful in a competition like this one, where every team has world-class players and is organised to the highest level, you have to always have the right mentality. You have to respect but never fear. You need confidence but never complacency. You need courage but not recklessness: be brave but not foolish. So far, with all these equations, we have found the right formula – but so have Roma until now.

“If I have one wish for these semi-final games it’s that we embrace the moment and take all the positivity from it we can, as a club, not just the first team. This campaign is about hope and not anxiety and that must remain the feeling if we are to keep progressing.”

Pick up your copy of 'This is Anfield' at the stadium tonight, or subscribe online by clicking here.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Henderson: Our history is an inspiration, not a burden

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 10:20
Jordan Henderson insists he and his teammates can draw inspiration from Liverpool's history as they aim to add their own names into the club's folklore in this season’s Champions League.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Henderson: Our history is an inspiration, not a burden

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 10:20

Jordan Henderson insists he and his teammates can draw inspiration from Liverpool's history as they aim to add their own names into the club's folklore in this season’s Champions League.

AS Roma visit Anfield this evening for the first leg of a semi-final tie in Europe’s premier cup competition, with Jürgen Klopp’s side aiming to secure an advantage to take to Italy for the return meeting next week.

And, as Liverpool strive to reach a first European Cup final since 2007, Henderson wrote in his notes for ‘This is Anfield’: “That desire to play and do your best for Liverpool can never be allowed to diminish. You are playing for the people of this city and beyond and when you have that honour you also have to take the responsibility that goes with it into every game you play.

“I can assure everyone that this sense of responsibility will be at the forefront of our thoughts tonight. We owe it to everyone – the supporters who back us with an intensity that goes well beyond the call of duty, the legends of the past who make this club what it is, and most of all ourselves – to give everything we can to take Liverpool to another final.

“I’m led to believe that some of the players from the 1984 team will be in attendance as guests of the club and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to captain a Liverpool team which does them proud.

“I know history can sometimes be seen as a burden but what those lads achieved is an inspiration to all of us. We all look up to them and hopefully tonight they will be looking down on us from the stands thinking we are doing justice to the legacy that they created. For that to happen, we will all have to be at our very best.

“We did fantastically well to get past Manchester City, who were deservedly crowned champions last weekend, and we will have to reach similar levels against Roma if we want to reach the Champions League final.

“I read a lot of comments after the semi-final draw saying Roma were the opponents that Liverpool wanted. I can only say that those sentiments were not shared by those of us in the dressing-room. We know all about their quality as a team, and the fact that they eliminated a Barcelona team containing Lionel Messi tells us all we need to know about the challenge we are facing.

“Finally, returning to the theme of Anfield and the supporters: whatever the outcome of this incredibly tough semi-final, we know for certain that tonight is the final home game of this season’s European campaign. On behalf of all the players I would like to say thank you for making this such an amazing home to play at.

“We never take for it for granted and we know whatever lays ahead over these two matches – and whatever awaits the winning team – the Liverpool supporters have again shown why they are part of Europe’s elite and always will be.”

Pick up your copy of 'This is Anfield' at the stadium tonight, or subscribe online by clicking here.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Stats: Klopp set for landmark with European record-breakers

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 09:30
Jürgen Klopp will take charge of Liverpool for the 150th time when they face AS Roma in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Stats: Klopp set for landmark with European record-breakers

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 09:30

Jürgen Klopp will take charge of Liverpool for the 150th time when they face AS Roma in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield on Tuesday night.

And the German can boast the best record of any Reds manager in their first 25 games in Europe - losing just twice.

His side have scored 56 goals in that time too, with the 39 netted in this season's Champions League, including qualifiers, a club-record haul for a single campaign.

For more need-to-know pre-match facts and figures, courtesy of club statistician Ged Rea, read on...

Liverpool have hosted Italian clubs at Anfield on 10 previous occasions, winning six times and losing four.

The Reds scored in nine of those 10 meetings, with Roma the only team to keep a clean sheet, in 2001.

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have both registered nine goals in the 2017-18 Champions League, which equals the club record of most goals scored in a single European campaign. Dean Saunders scored nine in five appearances during the 1991-92 UEFA Cup.

Firmino is just two goals short of recording 50 for the Reds in all competitions.

Salah's next goal will see him set a new club record by scoring in 33 different games during a single campaign - beating Ian Rush's landmark from 1983-84.

Liverpool have found the net in 13 of their last 14 Champions League games and are unbeaten during that run, winning eight games and drawing six.

The Reds have failed to score in only four of their last 35 games played at Anfield in all competitions, while they have lost only one of the last 27 home fixtures.

Salah has scored in each of the last nine home games in league and cup in which he has started, scoring 14 times in that run.

At the back, the Reds have kept six clean sheets in their last eight Champions League games.

They have not conceded a goal at home in the last five games at Anfield in all competitions - their longest run since 2006-07 when they recorded eight home shutouts in succession.

This will be Liverpool's 18th semi-final in European competition and their 10th in the European Cup. 

Of the 17 they have played at Anfield they have won 13, with three draws and a single defeat - to Leeds United in the 1971 Fairs Cup.

The Reds hope to reach their 13th final and their eighth in Europe's premier club competition.

The previous time the last four of the European Cup was represented by a team from each of England, Germany, Italy and Spain was 1981. That year Liverpool lifted the trophy, beating Real Madrid in the final thanks to Alan Kennedy's goal in Paris.

This is Roma 12th season in the European Cup. They reached their only final in their debut campaign in 1983-84, when they lost to Liverpool, on penalties, at their own ground.

In England, I Giallorossi have played 19 times, winning only once - at Anfield in the 2001 UEFA Cup (1-0).

Since that victory they have not kept a clean sheet in 11 visits to the country.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Three key battles that could decide LFC v Roma

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 09:00
Liverpool host AS Roma under the Anfield floodlights on Tuesday night as the two sides contest the first leg of their eagerly anticipated Champions League semi-final.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Three key battles that could decide LFC v Roma

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 09:00

Liverpool host AS Roma under the Anfield floodlights on Tuesday night as the two sides contest the first leg of their eagerly anticipated Champions League semi-final.

The eventual victor of the two-legged tie will book a final date with either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26.

The Reds have lost just one of their five previous meetings with Roma. The most famous clash with I Giallorossi came in 1984 when Liverpool took on the Italians at their own Stadio Olimpico in the European Cup final and beat them on penalties.

In the most recent encounter with Roma, during the 2001-02 Champions League second group stages, a Jari Litmanen penalty and a glancing header from Emile Heskey helped the Reds secure a 2-0 victory at Anfield.

Jürgen Klopp's side would surely settle for a repeat of that result on Tuesday night and we've picked out three key battles that could help decide the first leg in Liverpool.

Edin Dzeko v Virgil van Dijk

Target man Edin Dzeko provides Roma's main goal threat and, after netting a club-record 39 goals in all competitions last season, he's scored 20 of their 69 strikes this term.

With winger Stephan El Shaarawy next in the club standings on eight goals for the season, it could even be argued that the visitors are over-reliant on the 6'4" striker.

The 32-year-old has scored or assisted in Roma's last five Champions League games and was pivotal in their sensational aggregate win over FC Barcelona on away goals in the last round.

Dzeko netted away in the 4-1 loss at the Nou Camp and hit the opener at the Stadio Olimpico to spark the thrilling three-goal comeback against the Spanish side.

Excellent in the air and a great finisher, the Bosnian plays in the centre of an attacking trio - usually flanked by El Shaarawy and recently Cengiz Under - which allows Dzeko to concentrate his efforts in and around the area, where he is most effective.

Nullifying the former Manchester City striker would go a long way to weakening Roma and Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk is likely to be the man tasked with doing just that.

The ball-playing Netherlands skipper has helped tighten up the Reds defence since his arrival from Southampton in January and leads the team with a whopping 7.7 clearances per game in the Champions League.

Also standing at 6'4" tall, the aerial and physical battle with Dzeko should be intriguing.

Mohamed Salah v Aleksandar Kolarov

Signed in the summer from Manchester City, left-back Aleksandar Kolarov has quickly become a fixture in Eusebio Di Francesco's side, featuring in 41 of Roma's 47 games in all competitions this season.

The set-piece specialist scored the winning free-kick on his debut (which certainly helps to win over the fans when you used to play for arch-rivals Lazio) and leads the team with 13 assists.

Urged to get forward down the flank in an attacking 4-3-3 system - or pushed into midfield in the 3-5-2 alternative used in the second leg against Barcelona - six of those assists have been pin-point crosses while another two have come from marauding runs into the box that have resulted in penalties.

Another three have come from free-kicks and corners.

However, the 32-year-old is likely to be lining up against Liverpool's record-breaking 41-goal forward Mohamed Salah at Anfield and it's his defensive capabilities that should be tested to the maximum.

The Serbia international will have to call on all his experience and guile to do something that few opponents have managed this season: stop Salah.

If the left-back is too busy tracking LFC's No.11 to bomb forward and augment Roma's attack, the Reds will have stemmed a key supply-line for the forwards.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain v Radja Nainggolan

Tenacious Belgian international Radja Nainggolan is renowned for his dominating displays as the powerhouse of Roma's midfield but the 29-year-old can adopt a more finessed approach when required too.

Usually lining up alongside Kevin Strootman and Daniele De Rossi in a three-man central midfield, Nainggolan has recently been pushed into a more advanced role by Di Francesco and was the driving force in the aforementioned 3-0 win over Barcelona.

Playing ahead of his usual midfield partners as part of a 3-5-2 he was available to receive the ball in attacking positions and unleash high-quality through balls or powerful shots on goal.

His alternative position also allows the imposing Belgian to hustle high up the pitch and disrupt the opposition. It worked perfectly against Barcelona and it was a role he reprised five days later in the Derby della Capitale against Lazio and again at the weekend against SPAL.

While many of Roma's first-team regulars were rested ahead of Tuesday's clash with Liverpool, Nainggolan pulled on the captain's armband and scored his fourth goal of the season in a 3-0 win over the Serie A strugglers.

It's a role not too dissimilar to that which Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fulfils with the Reds and the duo could be in direct competition at Anfield.

Liverpool's summer signing from Arsenal can operate all across midfield, but four of his five goals for the Reds, and seven of his eight assists, have come when playing in a more central role.

Strong on the ball and capable of carrying possession from deep, the England international excelled in the quarter-finals against Manchester City when he was pitted against highly-rated Brazil midfielder Fernandinho - a player also adept at both the attacking and defensive sides of the game.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Match preview: Liverpool Ladies face Arsenal trip

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 08:00
Liverpool Ladies are back in action on Tuesday night when they face a trip to Arsenal.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Reds v Roma: CL top scorers meet the comeback kings

LiverpoolFC TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 03:00
The Champions League's most prolific team meet the tournament's comeback kings as Liverpool tackle AS Roma in the semi-finals – starting on Tuesday evening.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Reds v Roma: CL top scorers meet the comeback kings

LiverpoolFC.TV - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 03:00

The Champions League's most prolific team meet the tournament's comeback kings as Liverpool tackle AS Roma in the semi-finals – starting on Tuesday evening.

Jürgen Klopp’s Reds have, to date, swept aside all before them, racking up 33 goals in the competition proper and eliminating one of the big favourites, Manchester City, with an emphatic 5-1 aggregate triumph in the previous round.

Roma’s journey to the last four has been more dramatic, not least the manner in which they progressed to this point. A sensational 3-0 win against FC Barcelona at Stadio Olimpico earlier this month sent the Italians through on away goals.

Here is the sides’ Champions League story so far…

Free-scoring Reds return to grand stage

Liverpool are in the semi-final mix of Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in a decade – and have achieved that feat on merit.

Including the qualifying play-off against Hoffenheim back in August, Klopp’s men have navigated 12 matches without defeat on their return to the Champions League this season, winning eight.

Sevilla survived the Reds’ trademark attacking onslaught on two occasions during the group stage, claiming draws at Anfield and in Spain, but top spot in the section was secured and attention gained with 7-0 victories against both NK Maribor and Spartak Moscow.

FC Porto provided the opposition at the outset of the knockout rounds but a tie that threatened to be tricky for Liverpool was ended as a genuine contest in the opening meeting in Portugal.

A Sadio Mane hat-trick punctuated a resounding 5-0 victory at Estadio do Dragao that caught the eyes of the continent and rendered the goalless draw in the return on Merseyside immaterial.

Watch: LFC's 39 Champions League goals so far

The quarter-final draw set up an all-English showdown with runaway Premier League leaders City.

If the odds were against them for perhaps the first time in the tournament, nobody told Klopp’s charges. A trademark, first-half blitz at Anfield shook Pep Guardiola’s side and established a 3-0 advantage to take to Manchester.

There, the hosts chipped away at their deficit within two minutes. But they failed to add to Gabriel Jesus’ opener and, instead, Mohamed Salah’s deft dink early in the second half closed down the comeback. Roberto Firmino’s winner on the night merely added memorable gloss.

And so Liverpool prepare to face Roma with an unblemished Champions League record and the attacking combination of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah striking fear into any defence.

Roma the revivalists build on home foundations

Roma’s 2017-18 European adventure began inauspiciously, with their goalless draw at home to Atletico Madrid – finalists in 2014 and 2016 – nevertheless a creditable result.

A 2-1 victory over Qarabag preceded the pivotal double-header with Chelsea which perhaps set the tone for everything that has followed.

Having trailed by two at Stamford Bridge, Eusebio Di Francesco’s charges turned the game around to lead. The Premier League side levelled on that night but there was to be no reprieve in the Eternal City a fortnight later – three goals without reply racked up Roma’s most eye-catching result in the tournament until earlier this month.

Defeat on the road to Atletico did not derail the Italians, who wrapped up top spot in Group C.

Where Liverpool’s last-16 encounter was lop-sided, Roma’s was anything but. A 2-1 reversal at Shakhtar Donetsk left them with work to do – but they achieved the required objective in the return leg, Edin Dzeko netting the crucial only goal.

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Like the Reds, the quarter-final draw did the Serie A outfit little favours and few impartial observers would have predicted anything but a Barcelona ticket to the semi-finals.

A 4-1 defeat at Camp Nou only consolidated that opinion. But a tale worthy of myths and legends was about to be told at the Olimpico. A tactical switch helped to tip the tie upside down and strikes from Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas saw off Lionel Messi and co.

“Football is dynamic,” Di Francesco explained to The Guardian. “Even when you talk about a four-man defence, you often end up defending as a three, or even a two, depending on the game situation.

“My decision to change the system was linked to the fact that with some teams, with the characteristics of certain players, a three-man defence can give you a little bit of extra physicality. You get a little bit of extra strength – some of that just in the heads of the players themselves. Sometimes, especially in Europe, you need a little bit more physicality.”

Next stop, Anfield.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v AS Roma Preview - Key Battles

Anfield Index.com - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 01:32

Let’s get the cliche out of the way first – These are the nights that we live for! 

A Champions League semifinal night is coming to Anfield for the first time in ten years, and even Roma would be daft to expect anything other than a raucous, relentless night in the stands.

Liverpool slipped up at the weekend though, as shoddy defending cost them two points, as the Reds let a two-goal slip, with shoddy defending at the end of the game against West Brom at The Hawthorns.

Roma will be coming into this game on a high, even though it has been a fortnight since that amazing night at the Stadio Olimpico when they overturned a 4-1 deficit from their quarterfinal first leg against Barcelona.

Here are the key individual duels that could decide the outcome of the game.

Mo Salah v Federico Fazio

The King of Egypt will be on a high. He’s had a weekend that he’s not going to forget easily for the rest of his life. He was declared the PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night, a day after he equalled the Premier League record for the most goals in a single 38-game season.

But, that would be irrelevant for him and for the club if he fails to turn up for the two legs against his former team.

Liverpool’s attacking route will not be too complicated. If their game against Barcelona was any evidence, Roma play a high defensive line, and they will look to use the pace of Sadio Mane and Salah at every given opportunity.

The timing of Salah’s runs will be crucial because when he gets a clear route in behind a defence, there are very few players in the world who can stop him.

That is why Fazio’s positioning is going to be critical. He’s not the most blessed when it comes to speed of foot, so he’s going to have to nip Salah’s threat in the bud, not allowing the runs in behind him.

Alisson Becker in the Roma goal will be happy if he’s not going to have deal with the most potent Liverpool threat face-to-face, so Fazio is going to have a big game for Roma if they are to get a positive result at Anfield.

Jordan Henderson v Radja Nainggolan

The skipper seems to have hit a positive run of form just at the right time of the season for Liverpool. But he didn’t have a good game at all at The Hawthorns, and a repeat has to be avoided at all costs on Tuesday.

Nainggolan, on his day, is as good a midfielder as anyone in the rest of Europe. He’s got a strong engine on him, he’s a strong man capable of shrugging anyone off the ball, has a fantastic passing range, and his hammer of a right foot is capable of spelling doom for any goalkeeper in the world.

Henderson will be looking to channel his performance from the last big European night at Anfield when he made all the right noises against Pep Guardiola’s rampaging Manchester City side.

On that night, Henderson was bright. He was closing down spaces, snapping into tackles and not giving a moment’s peace to the City midfield.

But there is always one concern with Henderson – his ability to keep the ball or play a meaningful pass when put under pressure by the opposition.

He can rest assured that Nainggolan won’t let him have time on the ball. Nainggolan is going to be snapping at Henderson’s heels at all points, so it is crucial that the skipper has his wits about him at all times.

Dejan Lovren v Edin Dzeko

In Roma’s quarterfinal, Dzeko got them their priceless away goal at the Nou Camp. In general, he’s enjoyed playing at Anfield, having scored a few times during his time with City.

For Lovren, the build-up to this game has been far from ideal. He came on for the last bit of the game against West Brom, with Jurgen Klopp looking to protect the lead and leave the Midlands with three points.

Instead, Lovren lost his composure and made some elementary mistakes. None of those will be on the agenda for Tuesday night, especially given the stature of the man facing him.

Dzeko’s ability to test the goalkeeper even with the slightest of opportunities being presented to him is what sets him apart from a lot of other strikers.

The likes of Cengiz Under have been a fantastic foil to Dzeko’s work, but the Bosnian does carry the biggest threat that the Italian side pose.

He’s already had a happy return to England in the Champions League, scoring a brace in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier this season.

Upwards of 50,000 people will be willing him to fail and lose his shooting boots on Tuesday night. Will their wish be granted?

Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v AS Roma Preview - One More Step on the Road to Greatness?

Anfield Index.com - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 01:32
The Details

 Champions League

Venue – Anfield, Liverpool

Referee – Felix Brych (GER)

Date & Time – Tuesday, April 24th 2018 @ 19:45 BST

Current Odds – Liverpool 1/2, Draw 10/3, Roma 11/2


Liverpool Form

Liverpool drew 2-2 at West Brom on Saturday after being two goals ahead in the second half. Klopp was clearly infuriated after the game and who can blame him? The manager would have loved to take all three points and get an even stronger foothold on the top four, allowing Liverpool to focus more on the Champions League. Anfield will be absolutely bouncing on Tuesday night and Liverpool should continue their impressive European form this season with another win.

Roma Form

Roma had an impressive win on Saturday away to SPAL. They rotated their starting eleven and still managed a comfortable victory. In the Champions League, Roma’s last game was the fantastic 3-0 win over Barcelona. They will be confident of beating Liverpool in the second leg, no matter what the outcome at Anfield on Tuesday.

Team News

Liverpool Team News

Klopp is without Emre Can, Adam Lallana, and Joel Matip, due to injury. Nathaniel Clyne is still very much short on match fitness but may make the matchday squad. Liverpool’s strongest midfield should be Henderson, Milner, and Oxlade-Chamberlain. The front three pick themselves at this rate and they all emerged unscathed after Saturday’s game at West Brom.

Liverpool’s Top 3 Rated Players this season (WhoScored.com – 10 appearances or more)

  1. M. Salah  ——–  7.76
  2. R. Firmino  —–  7.46
  3. V. van Dijk  —–  7.32

Roma Team News

Defrel and Kolarov will face fitness tests to see if they are going to be available for selection on Tuesday night. Di Francesco will most likely set Roma up in a 433 shape with morphs into 451 when out of possession. It will be interesting to see how Lovren and Van Dijk cope with Edin Dzeko. In goals for Roma, Alisson Becker will be out to impress as he plays against the team he has been most strongly linked with in recent months.

Roma’s Top 3 Rated Players this season (WhoScored.com – 10 appearances or more)

  1. A. Kolarov  ——–  7.56
  2. E. Dzeko  ———-  7.40
  3. F. Fazio  ———–  7.24
Predicted XIs

Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson(c), Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané

AS Roma (4-3-3) – Alisson; Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Pellegrini, De Rossi, Strootman; Under, Dzeko, Perotti

When they last met

The last four meetings between Liverpool and Roma have been in “meaningless” pre-season friendlies. Roma have won three of those games and Liverpool just one. The last time the sides met in a competitive fixture was the 2002 Champions League Second Group Stage (yes, kids, there were two group stages in the Champions League in those days!). Gerard Houllier was present at Anfield on his return after undergoing heart surgery as Liverpool had to win by two goals to progress. A penalty from Jari Litmanen plus a second-half goal by Emile Heskey ensure Liverpool won 2-0 and made it through.


Liverpool 3 – 1 AS Roma

I do fear Roma in the second leg. How can you not after what they did to Barcelona? But that’s for next week’s match preview! This week, it’s Anfield. This week it’s the Liverpool faithful who will be making the noise and welcoming the teams in an atmosphere worthy of football’s greatest competition. I expect goals, and plenty of them. I’m backing Liverpool to take a good lead back to Rome for the second leg.

** Please note – “xGA” on the Form Stats Tables symbolises “expected goals against”

Categories: LFC NEWS

Observations as Liverpool Stutter Against The Baggies

Anfield Index.com - Tue, 24/04/2018 - 01:32

It all seemed to be going so well for Liverpool. A much-changed side spearheaded by Danny Ings took an early lead before a second-half strike from Mohamed Salah put the away side two goals to the good. Three points heading to Merseyside and plenty of rested legs ahead of far more important games.

No-one, not even the most optimistic of West Brom fans would’ve predicted the last fifteen minutes of the game. From 2-0 down, the home side fought back tooth and nail to grab a point that ultimately changed little for their Premier League fortunes. Likely to be nothing more than a conciliation point for The Baggies in the grand scheme of things, Liverpool’s capitulation saw them waste a golden chance to cement a top-four finish.

Here are the observations from a frustrating day in the Midlands.

Relief for Ings after sustained injury troubles

Danny Ings hadn’t started a game for Liverpool in 916 days prior to the Everton game earlier this month. Back among the starting eleven with a crucial tie against Roma on the horizon, the striker gained only his second start under Jurgen Klopp.

Fitting that he got on the score-sheet, then.

Some lovely build-up play down the left-hand side culminated in a sumptuous piece of skill from Sadio Mané. Dinking the ball over Jay Rodriguez’s head, the Senegalese international combined with Georginio Wijnaldum, with Ings on hand to steer home.

The move ended his 930 days wait for a goal, having last scored on October 4th, 2015 in the Merseyside Derby. It visibly meant the world to Ings; a player who’s suffered such misfortune with injuries over the last few years.

Then there’s Gini Wijnaldum. Often criticised for failing to produce the goods in away games, the former-Newcastle man recorded his 15th assist under Jurgen Klopp, placing him behind only Mané, Coutinho, Milner and Firmino.

Van Dijk a rock among shaky looking defence

In the previous 12 games, Liverpool have recorded eight clean sheets and conceded just five goals, putting to bed the argument that Klopp’s team cant defend. Yet, this was a return to their old selves in a much-changed back-four. Alberto Moreno was given his first start since March 6th while Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan also came in.

West Brom clearly targeted Moreno and Klavan as the weaker individuals within the defence, giving Matt Phillips ample opportunities to run at the Spaniard and flash balls into the box. Solomon Rondon too, isolated the Estonian. Neither player stood up particularly well to the challenge, gifting The Baggies chances to display their aerial prowess.

Van Dijk however, stood out in his usual authoritative, dominant manner. Winning 5 out of 7 aerial duels, the most of any Liverpool player, the Dutchman was a man amongst boys. It could well have been 3-2 to West Brom but for his intervention, with a crucial headed clearance in stoppage time preventing Phillips from taking all the points.

In just four months, Van Dijk has more than proven his worth to Liverpool, helping to stabilise a previously rocky defence. His teammates may have returned to the dark days of defending, but his class stood tall. We’ll need the same against Roma, Virg.

Mohamed Salah joins the Premier League’s elite

Every weekend there’s some new record that Salah’s broken and Saturday was no different. Another goal stemming from some brilliant combination play between the Egyptian and substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain saw the former produce another ice-cold finish to mark his 31st league goal of the season.

He’s now equalled the Premier League record of most goals scored in a 38 game season, joining Alan Shearer (1995-1996), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-2008) and Luis Suarez (2013-2014). With three games left still to play, Salah now has a great opportunity to smash yet another record in his debut season at Liverpool. What a player he is.

Two points dropped to provide a warning against complacency

Albeit in a very promising position to confirm a top-four finish, this was a warning against complacency Liverpool would do well to pay attention to. The result puts greater emphasis on their home game against Stoke City which is sandwiched in between two crucial European games.

Anything less than a win could open the door for Chelsea with a pivotal game at Stamford Bridge to come, thus Klopp will need to be wary of rotation or risk surrendering their current position.

Four points from the final three games should be easy enough, but you’d be a fool to think this is over quite yet – Liverpool don’t do things the easy way.

Categories: LFC NEWS