Klopp braced for showdown with ‘outstanding’ Roma
Liverpool manager highly impressed by their victory over Barcelona
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates his goal against Manchester City in midweek. He will be up against his former club Roma in the semi-final. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Jürgen Klopp says Roma’s defeat of Barcelona and the way they reacted to losing key players such as Mohamed Salah last summer are the marks of an “outstandingly good” side that Liverpool will not underestimate in the Champions League semi-finals.
Liverpool will host Eusebio Di Francesco’s team at Anfield on April 24th before visiting the Stadio Olimpico, the scene of their European Cup triumphs in 1977 and 1984, for the second leg on May 2nd.
Friday’s draw pitted the bookmakers’ favourites, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, together in the other semi-final but Klopp believes Roma’s remarkable comeback against Barcelona on Tuesday serves as a warning to his team.
The Liverpool manager said: “Of the three options that were available, I’ve never played there before so that is already exciting. It will be two difficult games. Roma are a fantastic side, as you saw against Barcelona. They played a very good season after a difficult transfer window for them last summer.
“They lost Mo, Emerson [to Chelsea] and other key players but still they played a really good season and are fighting for the Champions League again. When we face Roma we will know everything about them. I saw the second leg against Barcelona and they were outstandingly good.”
Salah will face his former club for the first time since joining Liverpool for €42.7m last summer. The Egypt international’s stunning debut season with Klopp’s team has prompted inevitable speculation that he will be a target for one of Europe’s wealthiest clubs this summer. That may be the case but the Liverpool manager is adamant his leading goalscorer will be an Anfield employee next season.
“It’s not a situation I would even think about it,” said Klopp. “Around nine months ago he came in to make the next step in his career and he did it. He had different options and he wanted to come to Liverpool. If we now always start talking after one year of ‘will he leave?’, or whatever, then I don’t think about it.
“Yes, I’m confident. I know he will be here. That’s all. We don’t want to change all the time. We have a big chance here to create something for the future. In the moment we have to deliver performances, collecting points, winning. The age group of the team is really good.
“We are still young and full of potential and all that stuff. My impression at the moment is that they are all excited about being in this group.”
The final will take place in Kiev at the end of May but the Scotland defender, Andrew Robertson, said Liverpool will not fear any opposition.
“This club has been here before and they know how hard it is – regardless of who you are playing – to get to the final and try to win this trophy,” said the former Hull City left-back. “We know how hard it’s going to be and we need to try and work so hard to get to the final because we need to deserve it.”
Roma sporting director, Monchi, has challenged his players to reproduce the same spirit they showed in their comeback against Barça on Tuesday.
“It feels like a great opportunity to chase the joy that we were not able to experience so many years ago,” the Spaniard said, referring to Roma’s final defeat by Liverpool in 1984.
“But of course it will be difficult because Liverpool are an extremely strong side. We need to think about ourselves and try to reproduce what we were able to show against Barcelona.”
The other semi-final pits European heavyweights, Bayern Munich, against and holders Real Madrid, who needed a stoppage-time penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo to see off Juventus after the Italian side had come back from 3-0 down in the first leg to briefly level the tie in the return.
“It’s one of European football’s top clashes,” said Bayern manager, Jupp Heynckes, who will leave the German club at the end of the season. “It’s the defending champions against a top side with quality players.”