23 April 2018

Liverpool v AS Roma 04.24.18

2:45pm ET, live in the US on Fox Sports 1

CL results:
Liverpool: 2-1 City (a); 3-0 City (h); 0-0 Porto (h); 5-0 Porto (a); 7-0 Spartak (h); 3-3 Sevilla (a); 3-0 Maribor (h); 7-0 Maribor (a); 1-1 Spartak (a); 2-2 Sevilla (h); 4-2 Hoffenheim (h); 2-1 Hoffenheim (a)
Roma: 3-0 Barcelona (h); 1-4 Barcelona (a); 1-0 Shakhtar (h); 1-2 Shakhtar (a); 1-0 Qarabag (h); 0-2 Atletico (a); 3-0 Chelsea (h); 3-3 Chelsea (a); 2-1 Qarabag (a); 0-0 Atletico (h)

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-2 West Brom (a); 3-0 Bournemouth (h); 2-1 City (a)
Roma: 3-0 SPAL (a); 2-1 Genoa (h); 0-0 Lazio (a)

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Firmino, Salah 9; Mané 7; Coutinho 5; Can 3; Alexander-Arnold, Oxlade-Chamberlain 2; Sturridge 1
Roma: Dzeko 6; El Shaarawy, Manolas, Perotti 2; de Rossi, Kolarov, Ünder 1

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)

His third Liverpool game in this Champions League campaign. 3-0 v City, but also 3-3 at Sevilla.

Guess at a line-up:
Trent A-A Lovren van Dijk Robertson
Alex O-C Henderson Milner
Salah Firmino Mané

Holy crap, Liverpool really are in a Champions League semi-final. And it's here.

Liverpool's XI is easy. You know it, I know it. There are literally no chances for changes unless someone gets hurt in training (shit, now I'm scared someone gets hurt in training) or Klopp somehow decides to use Wijnaldum rather than Milner or Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The preferred back four back together. Hopefully good Lovren – as he's usually been with van Dijk – rather than bad Lovren. Henderson deep, Milner creative, Oxlade-Chamberlain breaking lines. And that front three, ideally doing all the front three things. A lot of pressing, a lot of fast-paced attacks, hopefully early and often.

As we've gratefully seen an awful lot in this season's Champions League, especially in the first legs of the knockout rounds.

Meanwhile, Roma have had some impressive performances this season. Yes, of course, the last round at Barcelona, a 3-0 win to overcome a 1-4 first leg deficit. But also a 3-0 home win over Chelsea – and 3-3 away draw against the same opponents – in this competition. A 4-2 win at title-chasing Napoli last month. Their best games have a lot of Roma goals. Their worst games do not, for either side.

But Roma are also third in Serie A by some distance, 16 points behind second, just a point ahead of Inter in fifth. Next season's European places are far less settled than England's. The match between the Barcelona legs was an 0-2 loss against ninth-place Fiorentina, but the two matches since Barcelona have been competent, comfortable wins over Genoa and SPAL.

Roma have played four at the back in their last two matches – their usual 4-3-3 formation – but the most frequent guess I've seen seems to be a return to the 3-5-2 used in the win over Barcelona and subsequent 0-0 draw with Lazio.

Allison; Fazio, Manolas, Jesus; Florenzi, Strootman, de Rossi, Nainggolan, Kolarov; Schick, Dzeko.

If it's 4-3-3, then Ünder, El Shaarawy, and Perotti all become options in attack – the first, Mo Salah's replacement in the side on the right; one of the latter two on the left. Gonalons could come into midfield, but the aforementioned three have been preferred when available.

I'd be more worried about a 4-3-3, to be honest. Ünder's fast and can pin Robertson back; Perotti and El Shaarawy are clever on the ball and can deliver defense-splitting passes, drawing Alexander-Arnold inside or forward, or requiring one of the central midfielders to help cover. Two attacking midfielders floating in and around Dzeko, as well as Nainggolan. Plus, 4-3-3 gives Roma a better opportunity to press Liverpool if Liverpool attempt to build from the back.

Meanwhile, 3-5-2 can work against Liverpool, but it's much more likely to work when it's more a 5-3-2, simply denying space again and again before countering. That's still a danger game to play. And a high-line, play-out-from-the-back, fullbacks-attacking 3-5-2 is even more dangerous against this Liverpool side. I wouldn't give Liverpool space in behind. I wouldn't give Liverpool more players to press.

Either formation, Liverpool will have to defend crosses and set plays better than they did on Saturday, but Liverpool should be able to defend crosses and set plays better than they did on Saturday with the first-choice back four returning to the field. Either formation, Dzeko is the type of forward – like Kane, Lukaku, Rondon – that has gotten at Liverpool at times this season: big enough to win headers to set up others, but good on the ball as well. Either formation, Allisson is one of the best keepers in the world. Either formation, Roma have a full complement of players to pick from.

So, yes, Liverpool are top scorers in this competition. Liverpool are unbeaten in this competition. Roma have lost their last three away matches in this competition.

But this competition can make lies of form and favorites. This competition hinges on single moments. See: the last round. Liverpool avoids conceding a second to City after a three-goal first-leg advantage thanks to an offside flag and goes on to win the tie. By a seemingly comprehensive 5-1 margin. Roma gets a second against Barcelona early in the second half when behind by three after the first leg and goes on to win the tie on away goals.

Moments make matches, especially in knockout competition, and mistakes can and often will be severely punished, especially at this level. These are the last four teams in Europe, after all.

Once again, we need it to be Liverpool doing the punishing. Liverpool have come too far to falter here.

1 comment :

SBOBET said...

5 - 0 with salah
0 - 2 without salah
the only player is salah?