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Liverpool v AS Roma: A European history

Tue, 24/04/2018 - 11:30

Liverpool have enjoyed some truly special European encounters with AS Roma over the years.

From winning the European Cup in 1984 through to an unforgettable return to the dugout for Gerard Houllier in 2002 - take a trip down memory lane below.

May 30, 1984: European Cup final

The very first meeting between Liverpool and AS Roma was the 1984 European Cup final. Joe Fagan's side were chasing a unique treble, but needed to overcome a talented Roma side playing at their own ground - the Stadio Olimpico. The Italian outfit boasted Brazil stars Falcao and Cerezo among their number plus the highly coveted Bruno Conti. The Reds got off to the perfect start as Phil Neal, who netted the decisive goal in the 1977 European Cup final on the very same pitch, pounced to open the scoring. However, Roberto Pruzzo levelled for AS Roma just before the break with a header. In the penalty shootout that followed, Bruce Grobbelaar’s antics on the goalline proved pivotal as Conti and Francesco Graziani both missed. It was then left to 1981 European Cup final hero Alan Kennedy to keep his nerve and secure his team a fourth European Cup.

February 15, 2001: UEFA Cup fourth round, first leg

The Reds enjoyed another fine night at the Stadio Olimpico in the first leg of this 2000-01 UEFA Cup fourth-round tie. Michael Owen was the hero of the night, netting two superb goals in the second half. With rock-solid duo Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz at the back, Liverpool kept a clean sheet to take a healthy lead back to Anfield.

February 22, 2001: UEFA Cup fourth round, second leg

It was a nervy night at Anfield as Liverpool progressed to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup despite a 1-0 second-leg defeat. Roma’s Marco Delvecchio had a glorious early opportunity for the visitors when he found himself clean through on goal but failed to hit the target. Owen then had a chance to increase the aggregate lead when the Reds were awarded a penalty on the hour mark, but saw his effort kept out by Francesco Antonioli. Roma gave themselves hope when substitute Gianni Guigou netted on 70 minutes before a controversial and ultimately decisive moment in the tie turned things back in the hosts' favour. Roma appeared to have been awarded a penalty when Jose Maria Garcia-Aranda pointed to the spot following a handball by defender Markus Babbel, only for the Spanish referee to change his mind and give a corner. The rest, as they say, is history.

December 5, 2001: Champions League second group phase, matchday two

Following a 3-1 Anfield defeat by Barcelona in the opening game of the second group phase, the Reds travelled to the Stadio Olimpico in need of a positive result. With Gerard Houllier absent due to illness, his trusty No.2 Phil Thompson remained in charge of the side. AS Roma fielded the formidable strikeforce of Gabriel Batistuta and Francesco Totti but could not break down an obstinate Reds backline. Thompson couldn’t hide his delight after the match and said: "It was important we didn't lose and now we go into the break with a point on the board. My players were magnificent - progressive in the first half and defensively strong in the second. That will give us a lot of heart.”

March 19, 2001: Champions League second group phase, matchday six

Liverpool reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League as they produced a superb display in this must-win game. The tone for an unforgettable evening was set when manager Houllier unexpectedly returned to the dugout following an extended spell on the sidelines after major heart surgery. The Frenchman's surprise presence cranked up the atmosphere inside the ground, giving the Reds a major advantage. On the pitch, Jari Litmanen kept his nerve to convert a seventh-minute penalty and Emile Heskey then rose to head home the vital second goal just past the hour. 

Categories: LFC NEWS

Kennedy and McAllister share their Roma memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reds v Roma: CL top scorers meet the comeback kings

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

The view from Roma: Dzeko, Salah and a 'head-scratcher'

Tue, 24/04/2018 - 00:37

With Liverpool and AS Roma set to face off in the first of two Champions League semi-final matches on Tuesday night, we sought an expert view on what to expect from the Serie A club at Anfield and across the tie.

John Solano runs AS Roma Press, a website dedicated to the exploits of the Italian side, and last summer told us – with sublime prescience – that Mohamed Salah was ‘teetering on greatness’ as he completed a move to the Reds.

By a quirk of fate, the two teams now do battle for a place in the final of Europe’s elite club competition – after Jürgen Klopp’s men eliminated Manchester City and Roma produced a stunning comeback to defeat FC Barcelona in the last eight.

We caught up with John again for the lowdown on I Giallorossi’s recent form, key players and likely approach on Merseyside…

Can Roma fans believe what has happened in this Champions League run?

I think for many supporters it still feels like a dream and we’re waiting for someone to pinch us and wake us up. Roma’s performances this season in the Champions League have been sensational. While it is certainly surprising that they’ve made it this far into the competition, nobody can say that it’s undeserved.

Where does the comeback against Barcelona rank in the club’s recent history?

It’s undoubtedly up there in the pantheon of historical Roma performances. Roma’s history in the competition isn’t exactly illustrious so when a huge result such as this arrives, it almost immediately catapults itself into the top tier of moments in the club’s history.

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Tell us about Eusebio Di Francesco and how he has changed Roma this season...

He’s changed Roma quite a bit this season. Beyond the tactical and technical changes, the biggest change we’ve seen from Roma, particularly in the Champions League, is their mentality. I Giallorossi have played with conviction that we haven’t seen in nearly a decade in Rome. Di Francesco has brought a stronger mentality as well as a much more balanced and organised side.

Roma have been excellent at home but lost three in a row away from home in the tournament. Is there a weakness there?

It’s really a head-scratcher because if you look at Roma’s away form in Serie A, it is actually much better than their home form. I do think Roma have some difficulties away from home but they’ve shown on big occasions that they can be up for it.

How do you expect them to line up at Anfield, in terms of both personnel and tactics?

This is really difficult to predict because in the second leg against Barcelona, that was the first time Eusebio Di Francesco opted to use a three-man defence, which is certainly something he could use again versus Liverpool. However, I do expect Di Francesco to opt for his preferred 4-3-3 formation with Alisson in goal, a defence consisting of Florenzi-Manolas-Fazio-Kolarov, a midfield three that includes Nainggolan-De Rossi-Strootman, and capped off with an attack of Cengiz Ünder-Dzeko-Perotti.

I do think Di Francesco will, as usual, try to take a balanced approach against Liverpool. I Giallorossi actually implemented this very well in the first leg against Barcelona; however, they were extremely unlucky as they conceded two own goals. Against Liverpool at Anfield, though, I don’t expect Roma to take many risks.

Who is Roma’s most important player?

Edin Dzeko. Roma have had big problems finding the back of the net this season and the Bosnian No.9 has almost single-handedly carried the attack. Dzeko is without question the focal point of Eusebio Di Francesco’s attacking approach.

How do Roma fans feel about Salah and his performances this season?

Roma supporters still hold Mo in high regard. He was an extremely popular player in Rome and always honoured the shirt. I don’t think many are surprised by his performances this season because he was sensational during his two years at the club and showed he had the ability to be a world-class attacker.

What is your prediction for this game, and the tie as a whole?

This is extremely difficult: the heart says one thing while the head says another. My heart undoubtedly says that Roma have the ability to knock out Liverpool, especially after what they showed against Barcelona; however, my head says Liverpool’s potent attack could prove too much. I think the Reds will win the first leg by a score of 3-1. However, anything could happen in Rome – as we saw against Barcelona.

Categories: LFC NEWS

'This is a great opportunity - let's all take it together'

Tue, 24/04/2018 - 00:33

Danny Ings is certain the collective will of Liverpool's players and fans can combine to launch the club into the Champions League final.

AS Roma stand in the way of an eighth appearance in the showpiece of Europe’s elite competition for the Reds, with the first leg of their last-four tie set to take place at Anfield on Tuesday night.

Jürgen Klopp’s team have progressed through the tournament without defeat to date and no side can match the 33 goals plundered during the group stage and two knockout clashes.

Ahead of the initial meeting with Roma, Ings offered insight on the mentality within the Liverpool dressing room – namely, that their justified confidence is offset by the understanding that they simply have to produce again.

“We deserve to go all the way, with how well we’ve done and the teams we’ve had to go past on the way,” the striker, who ended his 930-day wait for a goal on Saturday, told

“But there’s still a lot of work to do. The lads are hungry, you can see it every day – and I’m not just talking about the Champions League, I’m talking about the Premier League. The lads are hungry every day in training.

“We all want to be successful. It’s unbelievable to be a part of. Hopefully that hard work and determination, plus our quality, can take us all the way.”

As it was in the quarter-final clash with Manchester City, the Anfield atmosphere is certain to be a contributory factor to the events of the first leg.

“It’s quite hard to describe because I’ve never been part of anything like it before,” said Ings.

“The atmosphere as you’re playing, for every minute, is just exceptional. It is credit to Liverpool and credit to the fans – they want it so bad and it really does help us.

“It’s important to be focused and we’re all together as one and give it our all, because this is a great opportunity in front of us and it’s important we take it with both hands.”

Watch: Klopp's message to LFC fans

Roma booked their place in the semi-finals with one of the greatest comebacks of recent years.

Trailing 4-1 from the first leg of their tie against FC Barcelona, the Serie A side shut out the Spaniards – maintaining their record of having not conceded at home in the Champions League this term – and scored the three they needed to go through via the away goals rule.

And nobody within the Reds camp is underestimating Eusebio Di Francesco’s outfit.

“We knew that any team we drew in the Champions League was going to be very tough. And I think Roma are going to be very difficult; Italian teams are always tactically very, very good,” added Ings.

“So it’s going to be hard to break them down. But, with our quality and our work-rate, it’s going to be a very exciting tie for sure. It is all about the preparation, the training and, mentally, taking it like it’s any other game. And hopefully we’ll get through to the final.”

Categories: LFC NEWS

Liverpool v AS Roma: Team news

Tue, 24/04/2018 - 00:00

Long-term absentees aside, Jürgen Klopp oversaw preparations for the Champions League semi-final first leg against AS Roma with a full squad.

Liverpool’s training session on the eve of the clash at Anfield featured all of the players not already suffering an extended spell on the sidelines, including right-back Nathaniel Clyne after he missed Saturday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion due to a muscle issue.

Mohamed Salah immediately re-joined his teammates in their preparations after travelling to London to collect the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award on Sunday night.

The Egypt international, who spent two seasons with Roma before signing for Liverpool, and Roberto Firmino are the only players to have featured in all of the Reds’ 12 European fixtures this season.

Emre Can and Adam Lallana remain out of action, while Joel Matip will not play again in 2017-18.

Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco was coy on a potential starting XI and system for the game at Anfield during his pre-match press conference at the stadium on Monday evening.

But he did reveal his intention to make a straight decision between Cengiz Under and Patrik Schick for one of the spots in his attacking set-up for the first leg.

“I don’t like to talk about the line-up,” the Italian, whose side eliminated FC Barcelona in the previous round, told the media. “Under against Schick, one of the two will play tomorrow – it’s a 50-50 issue.

“[We have] two systems of play, a four or three-man defence and I’ll decide depending on the rival. The most important thing is the philosophy, to have the same idea of going forward and defending.”

Categories: LFC NEWS

Salah: I loved my time at Roma but I want to win

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 23:00

Mohamed Salah can't wait to reacquaint with old friends when Liverpool face his former club AS Roma in the Champions League semi-finals.

The 25-year-old spent two seasons in the Italian capital prior to his move to Anfield, becoming a firm fan favourite over the course of his 83 appearances.

As such, an emotional reunion awaits Salah when he comes up against his old teammates to compete for a place in the final of Europe's premier cup competition over two legs.

The Egyptian is already looking forward to the tie, but insists sentiment won't get in the way of his desire to progress.

He told Premier League Productions: "I played for Roma for two years, I had a great time with the club, with the fans, I fought for the club and now I have to play against them.

"We text each other, as players, every week - we're still good friends.

"I'm very excited to go there and I love the fans, they love me, [there are] more emotions. 

"I hope we are going to win but also I wish them good luck."

Salah stands just three games from capping his debut campaign at Anfield with the biggest prize in European football, and the significance of the opportunity ahead is not lost on the winger.

He added: "It's something huge if you win the Champions League for a club like Liverpool.

"It's something different for us as players, for the city, for the fans, for everyone, I am sure we will fight for that 100 per cent."

Categories: LFC NEWS

AS Roma pay respects to Hillsborough victims at Anfield

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 22:30

Shortly after arriving in Liverpool on Monday afternoon, the AS Roma squad visited Anfield to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster, in a touching gesture.

The Italian club’s entire travelling squad and staff visited the memorial to the 96 children, women and men who were unlawfully killed in the 1989 tragedy.

There, they laid a wreath and took a few moments to remember those who died at Hillsborough.

Categories: LFC NEWS

Hendo: It doesn't get much bigger - let's get a result to remember

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 21:30

Jordan Henderson is readying himself for one of the biggest games of his career tomorrow evening as Liverpool face AS Roma in the first leg of the sides' Champions League semi-final.

And the captain is determined to ensure he takes only good memories from Tuesday's Anfield clash by helping to secure a result that ultimately sees Jürgen Klopp's team into the tournament's final.

Henderson had made just five European Cup appearances in six seasons with the club prior to this term - all of which came during a forgettable 2014-15 campaign that ended in a group-stage exit. 

As such, tomorrow's fixture represents a personal landmark for the midfielder, one he does not want to end in disappointment.

He told "It's one of, if not the biggest game [of my career]. The semi-finals of the Champions League at Anfield, it doesn't get much bigger than that really.

"It'll be a huge night and we want to remember it after for the right reasons in terms of the atmosphere but, most important, the result as well.

"It's a big game for us but hopefully it's the first of many big games to come in the next few years."

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Liverpool claimed an ultimately unassailable three-goal lead in the first leg of their quarter-final tie against Manchester City thanks in no small part to the efforts of a partisan Anfield crowd.

And Henderson expects more of the same from the home support when Roma come to town.

He added: "I'm excited just to go out and play in front of the fans at Anfield, it will be an incredible atmosphere.

"You see the fans, you pull up at Anfield and it's a special occasion, it really gets you going.

"When you're pulling up here on the bus and the fans are outside singing, it's an amazing feeling getting ready for the game."

Despite the convincing manner of Liverpool's win in the last round, Henderson does not believe the order of the ties - first leg on Merseyside, second in Italy - is necessarily an advantage.

The skipper is also anticipating a different test from Eusebio Di Francesco's side to that posed by the Premier League champions.

"You can swing it round both ways, to be honest," he declared.

"At the end of the day, it's two games of football and you've got to go and try and win them both, as difficult as that will be against a very good side.

"You've just got to go out there and stay focused on what your job is, take it step-by-step, [play] the first game and then focus on the second leg afterwards.

"It's a different side, different players, different manager, different way of playing, so they'll ask different questions.

"We've got to make sure we're ready for them, and we [ask] them questions as well, like I know we can.

"If we do that then hopefully it can put us in a good position going to Rome."

Categories: LFC NEWS

Melwood photos: Reds train ahead of Roma semi-final

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 21:14

Liverpool were in training on Monday evening ahead of the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Serie A side AS Roma.

The Reds conducted a session at Melwood 24 hours before they host the Italian club in the opening match of a tie that has a place in the European Cup showpiece as its prize.

Take a look at how Jürgen Klopp's team have been preparing for the clash with our gallery from the training ground below.

Photos by John Powell

Categories: LFC NEWS

Analysis: Familiar foes Roma rising under new management

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 20:00

With Liverpool and AS Roma set to kick off their Champions League semi-final at Anfield on Tuesday night, guest writer Scott Fleming analyses the Italians' evolution under new management this term…

1984, 2001, 2002, 2018.

Liverpool aren’t exactly unfamiliar with AS Roma, having met – and defeated – the Italians three times before in continental competition.

But the Roma side that visits Anfield for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg is a very different proposition to Nils Liedholm’s class of ’84, Fabio Capello’s 2001-02 vintage, and to the Mohamed Salah-inspired incarnation that racked up a club record points haul but still finished second to Juventus in Serie A last season.

Since then, positions of power have changed hands and the squad has been transformed. Coach Luciano Spalletti and sporting director Walter Sabatini both joined Inter Milan last summer and were replaced by Eusebio Di Francesco and Monchi respectively.

Di Francesco turned out for Roma as a midfielder between 1997 and 2001 but made his name in management with the remarkable work he did at Sassuolo, a small club from a small town in the Emilia-Romagna region who were playing in the Italian equivalent of League One this time 10 years ago but became established in the top flight and even enjoyed a Europa League campaign under the guidance of ‘EDF’.

In Italian football, the role of the sporting director is almost as important as that of the coach, hence why the capture of Monchi was such a coup. Full name Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, the former goalkeeper is renowned for launching the likes of Dani Alves and Ivan Rakitic into stardom in his time at Sevilla.

Both men certainly had a lot of work on their hands when they arrived in the Eternal City. Monchi negotiated the sales of Salah, Leandro Paredes and Antonio Rudiger to Liverpool, Zenit St Petersburg and Chelsea respectively before using his scouting nous to bring in a host of replacements from the Netherlands, Turkey and Di Francesco’s old haunt Sassuolo.

Meanwhile, the coach’s biggest challenge was to fill the void left by his former teammate Francesco Totti, the Roma legend who retired and became one of the club’s directors last May after 25 years’ service at the Stadio Olimpico.

I Giallorossi (Yellow and Reds) didn’t start the season in blistering form, with some in Italy questioning Di Francesco’s insistence on his preferred 4-3-3 system and whether it got the best out of Radja Nainggolan, the Belgian midfielder who netted 14 goals in all competitions last season when playing alongside Salah as the ‘two’ in Spalletti’s 3-4-2-1.

But then they clicked into gear in a big way, going on a run of 11 wins in 13 games between September and November. As of now, much like Jürgen Klopp’s Reds, Roma are on course to secure another season’s participation in the Champions League, although the top-four battle is much tighter in Italy than it is in England, with only one point separating Roma, Lazio and Inter in third, fourth and fifth.

And they have already really distinguished themselves in this year’s competition, going on a journey to the last four that has been just as full of drama and romance as Liverpool’s.

Roma defied expectations from the very start, finishing top of a classic ‘group of death’ that featured Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, beating the then-English champions 3-0 along the way.

In the last 16, they found themselves 2-1 down to an underrated Shakhtar Donetsk side but turned it around with an Edin Dzeko winner and a gritty second-leg showing in Rome. Then there’s the miracle against Barcelona. Trailing 4-1 after the quarter-final first leg at Camp Nou, Di Francesco set his team up in a 3-4-2-1 system for the return tie – an extremely bold move.

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The tactician was turning his back on a formation he’d not only played for most of the season, but for most of his career, the dynamic 4-3-3 he learnt from mentor Zdenek Zeman, an enigmatic, chain-smoking Czech who has coached Roma twice and is known for playing some of the most attacking football ever seen in Europe’s major leagues.

“The best coach I ever worked with in terms of attacking football was Zdenek Zeman,” said Di Francesco in a recent interview. “I learned the most from him and over time he left me with a particular philosophy.”

The switch also meant Di Francesco putting his trust in the likes of back-up defender Juan Jesus and young striker Patrik Schick, who was making his very first Champions League appearance. Suffice to say, it worked, goals from Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas turning the tie on its head on an unforgettable night at the Olimpico earlier this month.

It was an incredible achievement not just in the context of the tie, but in the wider context of a lean era for Italian clubs in Europe. Excluding Juventus, Roma are only the second Serie A side to reach the Champions League semi-finals in the last 11 years.

The question now becomes: what approach will Di Francesco adopt to try and get the better of Klopp, Salah and co? He will surely have watched with interest the second leg of Liverpool’s quarter-final against Manchester City, where Pep Guardiola had a certain amount of early success with three at the back before being picked off by the Reds’ quick attackers at the other end. The 3-4-2-1 was deployed once again in the recent Rome derby against Lazio, suggesting the set-up for Barcelona wasn’t a one-off.

Roma don’t appear quite as formidable going forward as they were last term, scoring eight fewer goals in their Champions League campaign than Liverpool managed in the group stage alone, but they counter-balance that with a strong defensive record, shipping just 27 in Serie A to date.

Liverpool will not only have to cope with the threat of Nainggolan, Dzeko and young Turkish winger Cengiz Under – who isn’t a natural fit for 3-4-2-1 but could be an effective impact sub. They’ll also have to find a way past Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson, one of the highest-rated stoppers in Europe on current form.

Categories: LFC NEWS

'It's been great to watch you' - Pele hails Salah

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 19:03

Mohamed Salah has been lauded by none other than Pele after the Liverpool forward was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year.

Salah received the prestigious accolade at a special ceremony in London on Sunday, having won the poll of his peers from the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs.

And that led to Brazil legend Pele complimenting the Egyptian, scorer of 41 goals in just 46 appearances to date in his remarkable debut season at Anfield, on Twitter on Monday.

"Congratulations on your award, @22mosalah," the three-time World Cup-winner replied to Salah's own tweet, in which he said he was 'truly honoured' to have collected the prize.

"What a season. And more to come in the Champions League and World Cup. It's been great to watch you."

Categories: LFC NEWS

LFC Foundation and LSTM launch Malawi HIV awareness project

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 18:59

LFC Foundation and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) launched a joint programme today to encourage youngsters in Malawi to access education and health services designed to help in the fight against HIV.

Reds forward Sadio Mane was on hand to help officially launch the new programme at Anfield Sports and Community Centre, where he attended a training session with coaches from Malawi and the LFC Foundation.  

As part of a week-long visit by the Malawi team, Foundation coaches delivered an intensive training session to provide them with the essential skills needed to deliver a range of high-quality sports sessions with youngsters back in Malawi - a key target group for the initiative.

Senegalese star Mane is lending his support to the new programme after visiting the LSTM back in December to find out more about it.  

In Malawi, the number of people living with HIV is one of the highest in the world; young people account for 50 per cent of new infections, and incidences are highest among 15 to 17-year-olds.

Knowledge around prevention and transmission of disease is essential among young people who often have low levels of awareness and are therefore more likely to contract it or be living with it unknowingly.

The new joint project will deliver sports-based public engagement activities in Malawi to provide more youth-friendly platforms for young people to access a range of available health services and education about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Using the medium of football and the power of the LFC badge the programme will aim to engage with youngsters and in particular the hard-to-reach group of young males aged 14 to 22 who are least likely to access health education and services, such as self-testing and treatment plans.

Andrea Cooper, head of the LFC Foundation, commented: “This is such an exciting, progressive project for the LFC Foundation and we are delighted to be working alongside the very talented team at LSTM to deliver it.

“Using our joint expertise, we can work together to start to make a real difference in this important area and help to improve the health and life chances of young people in Malawi.”

LSTM’s director, professor Janet Hemingway CBE, added: “We are excited to be working with the LFC Foundation on this important project, which will provide new, youth-friendly platforms for engagement with health services.

“Football’s appeal is universal with the power to break down barriers and reduce the stigma associated with HIV testing.

“LSTM has a long history of addressing important global health issues, and working with a global brand’s charity, such as the LFC Foundation, will enable us to further impact the lives of people in vulnerable populations.”

Categories: LFC NEWS

Hendo on 'huge' semi-final, 'fantastic' Salah and respecting De Rossi

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 18:33

Jordan Henderson hopes Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final clash with AS Roma can represent the beginning of ‘something special’ for the Reds’ squad.

Roma visit Anfield on Tuesday evening for the first leg of a last-four tie that will determine who advances to next month’s final in Kiev.

Liverpool captain Henderson addressed the media on Monday and discussed a wide range of topics, including the importance of the semi-final both personally and collectively, the newly-crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year Mohamed Salah and his Roma counterpart Daniele De Rossi.

Read on for a transcript of the No.14’s press conference...

On who got his vote for PFA award and Salah winning the trophy…

I voted for De Bruyne, obviously. I couldn’t vote for Mo. I’m obviously delighted for Mo, I think he deserves it thoroughly. He’s been fantastic throughout the season, his records and stats speak for themselves really, and his performances as well. He’s been a massive player for us this season and hopefully he can continue that form over the next few weeks.

On whether Salah can build a legacy at Liverpool and become a legend of the club…

Definitely. He’s a fantastic player, obviously he’s up there with the world’s best and there’ll be other clubs that want to maybe take him away but I feel as though he’s in a great place [with] a great set of lads, a great team [and] a great manager, going in the right direction. We want to create our own history [and] win things here. I think that would be very special and I’m sure Mo will want to be a part of that. He’s a big part of it now and I’m sure he will be for many years to come.

On how significant the semi-final is, both individually and for the team…

[It’s a] Huge moment, yes, a huge game, a huge two games. But hopefully this is the start of something special for this squad. I feel as though the manager’s been brilliant since he came to the club. We’ve improved every season and we’ve done so well this season to get to this stage. We’ve just got to keep going, keep working hard, keep improving and like I say, hopefully this is the start of many huge games to come in the next few years at Liverpool and it would be nice to look back at this one with fond memories of not only the atmosphere, but the result as well.

LFC's 2017-18 UCL stats

On how Liverpool have dealt with losing Philippe Coutinho and whether there is now more ‘collective effort’ in the team…

I felt as though there was a collective effort when Phil was here. He was another big player for us but I feel as though we’ve coped well since he’s left. The front three have been outstanding, all have chipped in, all have created chances, scoring goals and it’s working really well so far, so we’ve got to continue to play like we always have this season. [We’ve] kept going, kept improving no matter who we’ve played. It’s a big test for us, a big challenge against a really good side in Roma, but one that I feel we’re ready for. We’ve got to put on the same performance or a similar performance, if not better, than the last round against City in both legs. If we do that then hopefully we can get through to the final.

On how this tie will differ to the last round against Manchester City…

It’ll be a different game obviously because it’s a different team, different players, different manager and probably a different way of playing. They’ll maybe ask different questions than City did, but we’ve played a lot of good sides this season in Europe who have asked a lot of questions of us and we’ve answered them well so far. We’ve got a little bit more preparation to do later today and then first thing in the morning as well, and look to implement that in the game tomorrow night. They’re a strong side so they’re going to ask questions, but we just need to be ready and keep doing what we’ve been doing well - playing at that high intensity, creating chances and scoring goals.

On his respect for Roma captain De Rossi…

Fantastic player and fantastic leader for many years for Roma. He is a huge player and has been around for a long time. He’s a very experienced player, so he’ll be used to this sort of game, the size of the game, and he’ll be looking forward to it I’m sure. But I feel as though we’ve got experience in the team as well; maybe not as much as him, but I feel as though we’re ready to go and challenge. They’ve got other experienced players in the team, they’ve got a good balance of players. It’s a good challenge for us and one we’re looking forward to taking on.

On why European nights bring out the best in Liverpool…

At Anfield, the atmosphere is unbelievable, which gives us a great lift as a team. That’s really helped us on big occasions like this so far, so hopefully tomorrow night it will be no different. I’m sure the crowd will be unbelievable, but the performance needs to match it and we need to get a good result. I am sure the atmosphere in Rome will be brilliant as well and it’s a tough place to go, so we need to give everything tomorrow night and I am sure the fans will be electric again.

On the impact of Jürgen Klopp on the Reds’ squad…

He is one of the best managers in the world. First and foremost, football and tactically, it goes without question how knowledgeable he is within the game. You can see that in the performances, style of play and how we play football. But the other side, off the field, he’s a fantastic human, very genuine and has great passion for football. I think that transcends throughout the team; you can see that in the we are playing and the way are team play. He is a fantastic manager, he always keeps you on your toes, he always looks for more, keeps pushing you to improve, never wants the standards to drop and always wants you to maintain those high standards no matter who we’re playing. He is an amazing manager and everybody in the squad feels privileged to be working with him. I feel I have improved a lot since he came to this football club - and hopefully I can improve a lot more over the next few years.

On the magnitude of the semi-final…

Playing in the semi-final of the Champions League at Anfield is a huge occasion, not only for me but for many of the players. It’s what you dream about, playing against the best teams in Europe and Roma are certainly that. It’ll be a fantastic night, a huge night, but you’ve got to keep your focus on what’s important. The important thing is you’ve got to do your job to the best of your ability, keep doing the right things and give everything in the game. When you look back at the game, you want to remember it for the right reasons – I know the atmosphere will be amazing, but you want to look back having put on a fantastic performance for the team and also having got the result as well.

Categories: LFC NEWS