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Liverpool-Roma: Klopp rebels against “easiest draw” notion


Jurgen Klopp was very impressed by Roma’s massive comeback against Barcelona, and rebels against those who think he’s grateful not to draw Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

[ MORE: Everything coming up Liverpool ]

Even though he most certainly is, but that’s beside the point.

Klopp knows Liverpool is in for a major test at the hands of Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman, and Roma, rejecting the notion of relief. From the BBC:

“I knew I’d have to say something after it, I tried to think about what I feel, but it was not that I thought ‘Thank God not Bayern, thank God not Real Madrid, yippee Roma’ or the other way around.

“But if anybody think this is the easiest draw then I cannot help this person; they obviously didn’t see both games against Barcelona. In the first result, the 4-1, it was Lionel Messi genius against a good side of Roma. The second leg was outstanding, it was outstanding what they did. They should have probably won four or five-nil. I was really impressed.”

Liverpool’s odds to win the Champions League have been slashed by many oddsmakers, but don’t tell ol’ Jurgen (And really, what else is he supposed to say?).

Everything is coming up Liverpool

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Is a Liverpool victory in the UEFA Champions League written in the stars?

While defeating AS Roma is no easy task, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds avoided Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in Friday’s semifinal draw.

[ MORE: UCL draw | Europa draw ]

A potential 90-minute battle with Real Madrid or Bayern Munich for a sixth UCL title is drastically better than two legs, and don’t sleep on the idea that a final would occur after Liverpool has decided its Premier League standing.

Roma is no pushover, knocking out Barcelona after winning a group with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, but it’s working way too hard to claim this draw was anything but the best case scenario for the Reds.

Liverpool’s last round defeat of Manchester City was by far the toughest ask of a relatively straight-forward path to the semis, though it started with admittedly the toughest route out of the playoff round with Bundesliga side Hoffenehim.

The Reds drew Porto in the Round of 16, waltzing to a 5-0 aggregate win after facing one of, if not the easiest draws in the group stage (Sevilla, Spartak Moscow, Maribor).

To boot: While Roma was very good over two legs and unlucky in the first, surely Liverpool wasn’t counting on Barcelona blowing a 4-1 first leg advantage to i Lupi.

Even the league fixtures benefit Liverpool’s odds against Roma, with the Reds traveling to West Brom before the first leg and hosting Stoke City before the second.

While Roma’s fixture list isn’t especially tough, it features a pile up. I Lupi have a three-match week ending with a visit to SPAL before the first leg, and hosts Chievo Verona before Liverpool hits Rome for the second leg.

No team in the semifinal has gotten there by luck, and Liverpool may just be taking strong steps toward reclaiming its status as a world power.

There’s no question the Reds’ attack, paced by the incredible Mohamed Salah, is as exciting as any in the world. Virgil Van Dijk has helped improve the defense, but the Reds are doing it with a midfield missing a key box-to-box piece (That void will be filled by Naby Keita next season).

Klopp deserves plenty of credit for doing this without a real disruptor in the center of the park, although Emre Can may be the most under-appreciated piece of his set-up. And he’s been regularly untested full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson in what’s turned out to be a masterstroke.

In other words, Klopp’s project probably didn’t expect to be challenging for a Champions League win at this stage of his Anfield revolution. And it’s fair to say they should be playing relatively carefree with the house’s money as the final month of the season approaches Merseyside.

Que SeraSera, indeed.

Liverpool, Roma in UEFA Champions League semis

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Liverpool will open at Anfield as the Premier League giants avoid Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

[ MORE: Arsenal vs. Atleti in UEL ]

Roma is the opponent for Jurgen Klopp‘s men, handed their best chance to advance to the final in Ukraine.

The Reds defeated Roma in the 1984 UCL Final.

Bayern Munich is at home to Real Madrid in the first leg of the other semifinal.

Madrid have beaten Bayern the last six times they’ve met in the UCL.

Ranking the potential Champions League finals

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The UEFA Champions League will have its semifinal ties drawn early Friday, and as usual there are some juicy potential subplots to go with the main story line: Getting to a UCL Final.

[ MORE: Buffon rips referee Oliver ]

There are varying degrees of experience in finals for these four historic clubs.

— Real Madrid is vying to increase its all-time high of titles to 13, and become the first club to win three-straight finals since Bayern Munich from 1973-76 (which came after Ajax won three in-a-row).

— Bayern Munich is 5-5 all-time in finals, last winning in 2013’s Der Klassiker final.

— Liverpool has played in seven European Cup finals, winning five, but last earned a finalist’s spot in a 2007 loss to AC Milan.

— Roma hasn’t played for a European Cup final since a 1984 home loss to Liverpool, its lone appearance in the final.

There are six final pairings possible amongst the semifinalists, and we’re power rankings the least to most appealing in this post.

6. Bayern Munich vs. Roma — If only because this is one of two matches, statistically speaking, that would give the highest probability of a blowout.

5. Real Madrid vs. Roma — Same as above but with Cristiano Ronaldo and Real angling for a third-straight title.

4. Real Madrid vs. Liverpool — Two teams whose defending can be suspect and attacks are often lightning in respective bottles.

3. Liverpool vs. Roma — Would be an all-underdog tie with a guaranteed first winner in more than a decade (or ever in the case of i Lupi). Plus, the idea of Mohamed Salah going up against his old mates is pretty juicy. American-owned clubs, to boot.

2. Bayern Munich vs. Liverpool — Jurgen Klopp gets a chance at UCL final revenge from the 2013 loss at Wembley.

  1. Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid —  James Rodriguez meets his parent club. Arjen Robben his former club, and Toni Kroos the same. There were questions of how Bayern would respond to the retirements of Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso.

Watch: Roma’s American owner Pallotta celebrates in style

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Usually you’re not allowed to dive into one of Rome’s many beautifully sculpted fountains scattered across the city, but on Tuesday night, no one was stopping James Pallotta.

On one of the biggest nights in recent club history, the American AS Roma president dove in backwards into a fountain, surrounded by hundreds of his closest friends, Roma fans celebrating the club’s amazing 3-0 win to advance past Barcelona on away goals into the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Pallotta hasn’t always been a favorite in Rome since purchasing the club with two other investors in 2011, but he’s been part of a transformation at the club that’s lifted it back into title contention every year, a brand new stadium of their own coming in 2020 and a team with the talent to defeat Barcelona. It’s a night that will live long in the memories of Roma fans.