Klopp: no taking Roma for granted

Mohamed Salah celebrating his equaliser for Liverpool against Man City on Tuesday. The Reds are joint favourites with Real Madrid to win the Champions League next month.
Mohamed Salah celebrating his equaliser for Liverpool against Man City on Tuesday. The Reds are joint favourites with Real Madrid to win the Champions League next month.PHOTO: REUTERS

Reds boss impressed by amazing recovery against Barca, Salah looks forward to return

NYON (Switzerland) • Roma will find out just how much they miss Mohamed Salah when they face Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.

The two sides were drawn together in Nyon yesterday, when the forward made Premier League history by becoming the first footballer to win three Player of the Month awards in a single season.

Salah rebuilt his career at Roma, scoring 34 goals and providing 24 assists in 83 games across all competitions. But he brought his talents to Merseyside following a £39.6 million (S$74.2 million) deal last June and has netted 39 goals for the Reds so far this term.

The question now is whether the Egyptian can score next month at Stadio Olimpico, where Roma have kept clean sheets in all five matches in this season's Champions League.

"Looking forward to seeing you again," Roma tweeted about Salah yesterday.

The feeling appears mutual, with Salah replying "100%", after Liverpool also avoided a meeting with either holders Real Madrid or German champions Bayern Munich.

On paper, Roma - fourth in Serie A - represent the best draw for Liverpool. But Jurgen Klopp has warned his Liverpool side that Roma's epic comeback against Barcelona proves the Italian club should not be underestimated.

NOT AN EASY TASK

But if anybody thinks this is the easiest draw then I cannot help this person; they obviously didn't see both games against Barcelona. The second leg was outstanding... I was really impressed.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool manager, warning his team not to underestimate Roma.

DIFFERENT STRATEGY

That changes the dynamic somewhat because they are going to be pragmatic and they're not going to mind shutting up shop, digging in and not trying to outplay Liverpool like Madrid and Munich would probably do.

DANNY MURPHY, former Liverpool midfielder, on the Italian side being underdogs against the five-time European champions.

Roma recovered from a 1-4 first-leg deficit to eliminate Barcelona with a stunning 3-0 success in the second leg on Tuesday.

"I tried to think about what I feel, but it was not that I thought, 'Thank God not Bayern, thank God not Real Madrid, yippee Roma', or the other way around," Liverpool manager Klopp told the club's website.

"Whichever opponent we would have got, I would have said there is a chance because it is football - so there is a chance against Roma.

"But if anybody thinks this is the easiest draw then I cannot help this person; they obviously didn't see both games against Barcelona.

"The second leg was outstanding... I was really impressed."

Liverpool will host the first leg on April 24 before heading to Rome for the return leg on May 2.

Liverpool have not faced Roma since 2002, but they retain fond memories of the Eternal City after twice winning the European Cup there - once against Roma in their own stadium in 1984, and against Monchengladbach in 1977.

The draw left bookmakers making Liverpool joint favourites with Real Madrid to win the title. Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy, however, cautioned against growing expectations.

He told talkSport: "It's a difficult one because I think everyone will think, 'Oh, Roma is a great draw', but they're the one team out of all of them who Liverpool will be favourites to beat. That changes the dynamic somewhat because they are going to be pragmatic and they're not going to mind shutting up shop, digging in and not trying to outplay Liverpool like Madrid and Munich would probably do."

Roma are back in the last four of Europe's elite club competition for the first time since 1984.

"It feels like a great opportunity to chase the joy that we were not able to experience so many years ago," Roma sporting director Monchi said. "We need to think about ourselves, and try to reproduce what we were able to show against Barcelona."

The other semi-final will see Real travel to the Allianz Arena for the first leg on April 25. The return leg will be on May 1.

Bayern yesterday named Eintracht Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac as their new manager, succeeding Jupp Heynckes at the end of the season. The last time Heynckes bowed out of Bayern in 2013, he left with a Champions League winner's medal.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2018, with the headline 'Klopp: no taking Roma for granted'. Print Edition | Subscribe