Many Liverpool fans were no doubt breathing a sigh of relief as The Reds managed to dodge giants Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final, as they drew Roma.
The Italian side would have been, for the majority of fans, the preferred choice. But that’s not to say that they should be underestimated. In fact, under manager Eusebio Di Francesco, they are certainly a team that has all the attributes to go all the way in the competition.
In Serie A, the Giallorossi lie in 4th place, in the comfort of the automatic qualification to the Champions League. But they are only a point ahead of Inter. Their up-and down season domestically (at one point they didn’t win a game after their win against Cagliari on 16th December, until their victory against Hellas Verona on 4th February) can easily be distracted by their success in Europe.
Roma finished top of their Champions League group and, as no doubt Jurgen Klopp will be aware, beat the mighty Chelsea 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico last October. Then they beat Shakhtar Donetsk on away goals in the knockout phase before making a comeback against Barcelona that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
The plethora of talent at Di Francesco’s disposal should be noted also. Edin Dzeko’s form with the Serie A side witnesses him banging in the goals all the time. And he’s not the only player who scores for the Giallorossi. Wingers Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy are more than capable of cutting in and firing them home also.
In midfield, they boast the powerhouse that is Daniele De Rossi. Their captain, who like Francesco Totti before him, is a local lad who spent his entire career with Roma. De Rossi, who turns 35 in July, shows no signs of slowing down, and has all the attributes to cause the Liverpool midfield some problems. Alongside him will be Radja Nainggolan, a long-time target for some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The 29 year-old is regarded as one of the most complete and versatile midfielders in the game.
Roma are superb at the back, too, where Aleksandar Kolarov has proved a superb signing and the wonderful Alessandro Florenzi, another player high-in-demand with Europe’s elite clubs including Man United and Barcelona. Greek defender Kostas Manolas has proved to be a colossus at centre half.
Should Liverpool get past Roma, they would face either Bayern or Real Madrid in the final. Not impossible – but extremely difficult. But they have to get past Roma first. And that will be no easy task.
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