Dave Davis explains why Roma are not a write-off and why the Reds should be wary of the Italians in the last four of the Champions League.
The draw that many wanted is far from straightforward. With Bayern Munich and Real Madrid as the alternatives, it was natural that most Reds would hope to face Roma. However, with the second leg at the historic Stadio Olympico, history tells us how strong I Giallorossi are on their turf. Liverpool should hold no fear, but they’d be foolish not to be aware of the imminent threat.
From a league perspective, the Serie A table reads favourably for Roma as they sit just inside the Champions League places. Inter are a point behind, whilst their city neighbours Lazio are only ahead of them on goal difference.
With Napoli and Juventus seventeen points ahead, it’s two into three for those crucial spots. The biggest interest to Liverpool fans is the fact that they play three times before the first leg, which includes the Rome derby. No chance to really rest players and hardly the ideal preparation.
It’s a former Manchester City player in Edin Dzeko who tops their scoring charts with fourteen with the closest player being El Shaarawy on six. Salah’s input has never really been replaced as the youngsters Schick and Under have struggled at times.
Monchi and De Francesco are no fools however and a physical side playing a 3-5-2 formation has only shipped twenty-six goals. Strootman, Nainggolan and De Rossi provide a solid base in the middle, whilst Jesus and Manolas ensure there’ll be an additional aerial threat from defence.
In the Champions League, it’s been a mixed bag for a team that clearly performs better on their own patch. Away day outings to Barcelona and Atletico brought defeat, although a point at Stamford Bridge shows the first leg won’t be a foregone conclusion. Crucially though, their recent 3-0 humbling of Barcelona and the same scoreline in the Olympico against Chelsea demonstrates that the second leg could prove difficult.
Jurgen Klopp was quite direct when asked about Roma at his press conference this week: “If anybody think this is the easiest draw then I cannot help this person.” After a 5-1 aggregate victory over City, confidence is high and the momentum is with Liverpool.
Anyone thinking Roma will be pushovers though, think again.