For the first 70 minutes or so of their first Champions League tie with Roma at Anfield, all signs pointed to Liverpool breezing into the CL Final. Liverpool were blowing Roma out of England with a 5-0 lead, which would have been incredibly difficult for the Serie A side to turn around in the return fixture.
However, Roma found two goals in the game’s waning moments to make things much more interesting heading into this week’s second leg in Rome. Now, all Roma have to do is win 3-0 and they’ll be the ones playing in Kiev for Europe’s biggest honour next month.
The online betting sites still say the odds are still heavily in favour of Jurgen Klopp’s side, however, and the Reds are confident that their high-scoring ways won’t leave them when they play in Italy next week. Defender Andy Robertson insists that his side will be ready to keep it going in the away leg. The first-year Liverpool player told the media, “They [Roma] were down 4-1 from the first leg and everyone was saying it was just a standard game for Barcelona to go through. But they put on an unbelievable performance at their place to put three goals past one of the best, if not the best, teams in Europe.”
He added, “To score four goals against Barcelona over two legs is fantastic. But we also know what we did in our tie. We got the better of Manchester City by beating them twice, so hopefully we can stand up to their strengths and exploit their weaknesses.”
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino each bagged two goals, while Sadio Mane added another in the Reds’ 5-2 drubbing of Roma this past Tuesday. Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti pulled back Roma’s two second-half goals to give the Italian side a puncher’s chance at advancing.
Prior to the first leg, Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman insisted that his side had a plan in place in order to neutralize Salah, who spent the two seasons prior to this one with Roma. That plan clearly failed, as the Egyptian international was able to score two quick goals in the first half while repeatedly tearing the Roma defence to shreds.
Roma have gotten this far thanks to excellent form at home. They were able to edge Shakhtar on away goals in the round of 16 and snuck past Chelsea to come out on top of Group C in the group stages.
While Roma will be confident that they can do what they did against Barcelona, it’s also fair to note that even Barcelona did not boast as much attacking firepower as Liverpool. Ironically, Barca was forced to play without influential midfielder Philippe Coutinho because Coutinho had been cup-tied by Liverpool after appearing for the Reds in early-season Champions League action before moving to Spain in January.
Roma will have to play an aggressive style, knowing they will need at least three goals in order to move on to the final. That could make them vulnerable to the counter-attack, which is where we know Liverpool thrive.
Robertson added, “We’ve scored a lot of goals away from home in Europe this season. We drew in Sevilla but we still scored three goals there. We scored another five in Porto and seven in Maribor, so we can take a lot of confidence from that.”