We enter the second leg at Stadio Olimpico with Liverpool leading the tie 2-2. As Timicun wrote about earlier everyone is a mess right now we’re all nervous.
The injuries, Buvac leaving, Buvac going to Arsneal, Roma did this before, and Roma hasn’t given a goal up at home all season, but you know what all that matters are the 11 who step on the pitch on Wednesday night and those 11 are the only ones that matter and those 11 are the 11 that will get go to Rome and get the job done, they are the 11 that will take us to the glory of playing in the most important game in football.
There has been so much anxiety around this club lately. Yes, the reasons are valid but at the same time this team is in a position none of could have dreamed of before the season. I mean c’mon we have a 5-2 lead going into the second leg of the semi finals of the Champions League. if you told any Red this before the season every single one of them would have taken if, if they said it wasn’t good enough they’re as insane as a serial killer. Logically they probably are a serial killer.
I get it. As great as this run has been there has been plenty of adversity. The injuries seem to build up every day, the draws against West Brom and Stoke in league have been rather frustrating, and now this situation with Buvac. None of it is ideal but to get to this part of the competition there is always going to be adversity.
The good thing is the starting 11 is still basically the starting 11 outside of not having Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but you could argue with a 3 goal lead in the second leg that Wijnaldum may be better for this game than Oxlade-Chamberlain.
So, right now this should be the only concern.
As far as Roma doing it to Barcelona in the last round……
2. Deja Vu?
I honestly don’t think there would be nearly as much anxiety amongst Liverpool fans if they didn’t just watch Roma win 3-0 against Barcelona to advance I would say most would be optimistic, but knowing if Roma wins 3-0 tomorrow they will advance has people doing a little crazy. It makes it even worse knowing Liverpool had a 5-0 lead in the 80th minute.
But I’m here to tell you this is going to be different. First of all the odds of Roma doing it again are about as likely as Gail Gadot saying yes to a date with me when I tweet her later to see if she wants to go out on a date this weekend.
But let’s get a little more technical with this. Barcelona is not Liverpool. I’m not saying Livepool is a better team but sports are all about matchup’s which is why A can be better than B and B can be better than C but A isn’t necessarily better than C.
This Barcelona team isn’t your Daddies Barcelona or the Barcelona team from the past couple years, when Ernesto Valverde came on after the Spanish Super Cup he knew he had to protect his midfield after watching Real Madrid torched his sqaud over the two legs, so he had them play a much more pragmatic than they have in the past. This way their midfield wouldn’t get blown by like an Easy Pass lane on a toll road.
By playing this way they didn’t roll through teams with an attack that would leave you in awe. They played a smart more practical game that relied heavily on Messi doing magical things and Marc ter Stegen to make big saves.
Barcelona sat back way too much in the second leg against Roma, it gave Roma the chance to be on the front foot and to push Barcelona back.
Barcelona didn’t offer much of a counter threat and fortunately for Roma then it all came down to Messi and much to everyone’s surprise the greatest of all time had a poor game. It may have been the worst game I have ever seen him play.
Barca was poor in this game and they needed Messi to do something which he does 99.999999% of the time but in this game he didn’t.
With Liverpool they will not sit back like Barcelona did and let Roma take it to them. They will be trying to counter every chance they can with their ridiculous front 3, this is the type of situation where Liverpool thrives when the other team has to come forward all game.
Barcelona had no pace. For whatever reason Valverde kept Dembele on the bench until the very end where his pace could have broke their backs at any moment. All they needed is one goal and that’s all Liverpool needs is one goal.
When this Roma team is pushing forward it’s going to take one mistake to unleash Salah, Mane, and Firmino at the Roma defense with pace and they will make you pay, this is what these 3 have been doing to teams all season and I have all the confidence in the world they will be doing it again.
But then you say, Jim this Roma squad hasn’t allowed a goal at home in the Champions League in their 5 home matches this season.
Well in the first game in the group stage against Atletico Madrid it was all because of Allison making some insane saves and some real poor finishing from Atleti which comes with the territory with Atleti.
Then it was Chelsea, but the Blues were god awful in that game. But this is Livepool and this is one of the best attacks on the planet and when Roma is going to be throwing everything forward it just seems impossible to hold this Liverpool team down the same team that has 38 goals in 11 Champions League matches.
Roma’s biggest hope is that Allison makes 1,000 great saves which he’s capable of because that’s mostly what it’s going to take here to make it happen.
Key injuries for Roma in this are Kevin Strootman and Diego Perotti. Strootman is a key cog in their midfield and Perotti is a speedy winger who they could use to make this comeback so they would both be big losses for Roma and it looks like they are both out or at least huge doubts for this.
It will force them to do something different with their midfield. I definitely don’t expect them to play 3 in the back like they did in the first leg. They will likely play 4 in the back and try to generate their attack through their fullbacks Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksander Kolarov, they’re both dangerous but could be a benefit for Liverpool as Salah and Mane will look to occupy the space they leave on the counter.
They will try to target Edin Dzeko all day. Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk will have their work cut out but if they take him away Roma will struggle. They play though him so much and will rely on heavily.
Liverpool will have to be aware of Radja Nainggolan as he will be a threat busting through the midfield as he does very well.
I’m expecting a 4-3-3 from Roma with Allison, Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov, Pelligrini, De Rossi, Nainggolan, Schick, Dzeko, and El Shaarawy.
This will be a bit of a different look which will match up with Liverpool a bit better than their 3-4-2-1 did last week. The keys will be the midfield not letting Nainggolan control the game from there and Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold doing the jobs on their wings and not allowing them to send a million crosses to Dzeko.
Take care of that and get out on the counter it will all be fine.
The Livepool lineup shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Milner, Mane, Firmino, Salah.
We already know that Emre Can, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Matip are all out. But Adam Lallana is fit enough to be part of the 23 man traveling party which is great to hear that he’s having a better than expected recovery.
Joe Gomez is an addition to the injuries after sustaining an injury against Stoke. What’s new? This is Liverpool it’s like a law to have an injury every game.
4. The pick
After reading that will any of you be surprised where I’m going with this?
Of course I’m going with Liverpool to advance. This is my head too, not just my heart.
Expect it to be a little wild and to have some fireworks and be a little nervy at times. This is a second leg in the Champions League when football snorts cocaine and things get wild.
I just think that with Roma needing to push forward that there will be too much real estate for the pace of Salah’s, Mane, and Firmino to exploit. I think Roma will score in the first 10 minutes because this is Livepool and they have to give us a heart attack and anxiety early on, but this team won’t panic and they will get a couple on the counter which will end this, but I think the Reds win this straight up.
Liverpool 3-2 (8-4 on aggregate)