UCL Road to Kiev Final: Roma vs Liverpool
The story of the season so far has been the meteoric rise of Mohamed Salah. Purchased from Roma last summer for what was then a highly scrutinized fee, Liverpool have given him the stage to show his many talents and take that next step in becoming a truly World Class player. The first leg was symbolic of his entire season. With 2 goals and 2 assists, it wasn’t until he was substituted that Roma looked to have any advantages in the game. Roma have proven that they can find a solution for 3 goal deficits to Barcelona’s chagrin, and they will be hoping the Stadio Olympico inspires another comeback on Wednesday. After winning 4-1 at the weekend in their Serie A match against Crotone, they will be hoping for the same exact scoreline against Liverpool. Credit must be given to Jurgen Klopp who has inspired his side this far in the Champions League and brought back genuine excitement amongst the rabid Liverpool fans.
The winner of this tie will already know who they are facing in the final in Kiev on May 26th. Di Francesco will need to make sure his tactics are better than they were in the first leg if he is to hope for another dramatic comeback like the one he produced against Barcelona. With a newly signed contract extension, Roberto Firmino will be leading the line and hope to lead Liverpool to their first Champions League final in over a decade. All eyes will be on how Liverpool handle the early moments of the game, however, especially given that Manchester City scored early against them the last tie, but Klopp’s men were able to still produce a clinical display of quick, sharp counterattacking football to dispose of Manchester City. Dzeko vs Salah will prove to be the matchup that in all likelihood shapes how this second leg will play out.
Roma could dispose of Liverpool with the same 3-0 scoreline they produced the last time they played at the Stadio Olimpico.
Liverpool will be hoping Mane is fit and ready to go after reportedly visiting a hospital after the first leg. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will, unfortunately, miss out after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first leg.
James Milner is a player reborn with Liverpool and leads all players in assists this campaign with a record 9 assists this season in Champions League.