Rome, Tuesday @PeopleSports11
Liverpool return to the scene of two of their most famous European triumphs amid tight security ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final, second leg clash in Rome.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are on the brink of reaching the final of Europe’s elite club competition for the first time since 2007 as they look to defend a three-goal advantage against AS Roma in the Italian capital.
But off-pitch tensions are high as Liverpool supporter Sean Cox lies in a coma after being attacked before last week’s first leg in Anfield. Two Roma supporters were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and club legend Francesco Totti has appealed for “fair play, hospitality and respect for our opponents”.
Former Roma striker Mohamed Salah scored two brilliant goals and set up two more as Liverpool went five up at Anfield before two late goals gave Roma hope of a potential fightback.
Klopp’s side are bidding for a sixth European title having won two, in 1977 and 1984, at the Stadio Olimpico the latter on penalties against Roma. Both teams are third in their domestic leagues and in the running for Champions League football next season.
But Liverpool have suffered serious disruption in the buildup after Klopp’s right-hand man, Zeljko Buvac, dubbed “the brain” by the German, stepped aside for personal reasons this week. Buvac, who was on the bench with Klopp for Saturday’s goalless draw against Stoke, has been the German’s trusted right-hand man for the last 17 years.
Added to the distractions is star striker Salah’s image-rights dispute with the Egyptian football association. The Roma game also comes days before Liverpool clash with Chelsea in the Premier League. “Liverpool always has to take the slightly more difficult way and it’s again like this,” said Klopp.
“We created a basis and now we have to finish it.” It’s a clash between two sides who have not won the domestic title in years. Liverpool won the last of their 18 Premier League titles 28 years ago.
Since then the Reds lifted the Champions league trophy in 2005, when they fought back to stun AC Milan on penalties after conceding three-first goals in Istanbul, and two years later when they lost to the Italians in Athens. -AFP