LIVERPOOL vs ROMA preview: In-form Salah aims to shine against his former club

Anfield hosts its biggest European night for a decade. Liverpool experience their first Champions League semi-final since 2008 when Roma visit Anfield on Tuesday, looking for a first-leg advantage.

Even the most positive Liverpool fan would struggle to have tipped the Reds to reach the last four of Europe’s biggest competition back in August.

It was always clear that they had quality in their ranks, and an impressive 3-0 pre-season win at Bayern Munich further raised expectations, but this has still been a surprise.

Klopp has turned his team into one of the most feared attacking outfits on the continent, and they are now favourites to reach the final in Kiev on May 26.

Standing between Liverpool and a place at the showcase event at the Olympic Stadium is a Roma side who are formidable in their own right.

They will feel as though their name is on the trophy after an incredible comeback against much-fancied Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

The Giallorossi have proven quality from front to back, and if Klopp’s men underestimate the third-placed Serie A side it could spell big trouble.

Newly crowned PFA Player of the Year Mohamed Salah faces his former club having blossomed into one of Europe’s best footballers, and his influence will be so key over the two legs.

By beating runaway Premier League champions Man City 5-1 on aggregate in the last round, Liverpool have shown they can beat anyone on their day, and they must approach Tuesday’s meeting with the same level of ruthlessness.

It is vital that they take a lead with them to Stadio Olimpico next Wednesday, in front of an Anfield crowd that will produce an unbelievable noise.

Team News

LIVERPOOL

Jordan Henderson missed out on the second leg with City, but he will likely return in a three-man midfield alongside James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson have been given rests of late and they should be welcomed back into the full-back roles on Tuesday.

Klopp is expected to continue with the in-form forward three of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. Joel Matip, Emre Can and Adam Lallana remain the club’s longer-term absences.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:

Karius; Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane

ROMA

Roma should opt to go with a 3-5-2 on the road, with Dzeko and Patrik Schick leading the away line at Anfield.

Alessandro Florenzi and Kolarov will operate as wing-backs, leaving Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan to marshal the midfield.

Diego Perotti made his return to the first team at the weekend and will be a welcome boost for Roma, although he might be forced to settle for a place on the bench as he looks to regain match sharpness.

Roma possible starting lineup:

Alisson; Fazio, Manolas, Jesus; Florenzi, Strootman, De Rossi, Nainggolan, Kolarov; Dzeko, Schick

Head To Head

The clubs last met during the 2001-02 Champions League second group stages. The two sides also faced Barcelona and Galatasaray that year. Liverpool drew the first meeting 0-0 in Rome, before earning a 2-0 victory at Anfield.

In European competitions, the sides have met five times in their respective histories. Liverpool have won two, drawn two and lost one against Roma during that period.

Roma last beat Liverpool in Europe courtesy of a 1-0 away win in the 2000-01 UEFA Cup fourth round. The Reds won the other leg 2-0, however, to make it into the next round.