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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expects Mohamed Salah will not get “friendly” treatment from his former Roma team-mates during Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield.
Salah scored 34 goals in 83 appearances for the Italian club before joining Liverpool last summer in a £34m deal.
Tuesday’s game (19:45 BST) will be the first time the Egypt forward, 25, has faced his former colleagues.
“Mo will know pretty soon they are not his team-mates any more,” said Klopp.
“Italian defenders are famous for not having friendly games – but he can strike back in football terms.”
Salah has scored 41 goals in 46 appearances for Liverpool and on Sunday was named Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year.
Five-time winners Liverpool are attempting to reach a Champions League final for the first time since 2007.
Klopp wary after Roma’s Barcelona comeback
While Liverpool beat Premier League champions Manchester City 5-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, Roma overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit to knock out Spanish giants Barcelona.
“Nobody thought after the first result that they can have the kind of comeback against Barcelona because it’s not usually possible,” said Klopp.
“They can make seven or eight changes for their last league game and look comfortable and win which is a big advantage. But then being at Anfield is an advantage to us as well.
“They have a full squad available. They have different options offensively, a strong defence, the wingers or wing-backs are strong, it all looks settled, fit and experienced.
“It’s a semi-final which is a big thing for them like us. You will see two excited teams and that’s good for football.”
Klopp rested Roberto Firmino, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for the 2-2 draw against West Brom on Saturday, and all are expected to return on Tuesday.
Roma, who are third in Serie A – 18 points behind leaders Juventus, also rested some of their key players at the weekend, with Aleksandar Kolarov, Alessandro Florenzi, Daniele de Rossi and Edin Dzeko sitting out the 3-0 win at Spal.
The quartet should return on Tuesday, and former Manchester City defender Kolarov says his side will not be focusing solely on Salah.
“Against Barcelona we played as a team, we did not focus on Lionel Messi, and by playing in this way we can achieve great things,” he said.
“It is not about stopping one player. Liverpool are not only Salah, they have a number of good players.”
Roma should not be underestimated – analysis
Italian football journalist James Horncastle on the BBC Euro Leagues Football Show:
“Liverpool are the team going into this under pressure as they’re so close to the final now. Their fans believe and expect them to get there. This is a club who are much more part of European football’s nobility than Roma are.
“With Roma, the belief that has forged within this team should not be underestimated.
“Liverpool think they have a sense of destiny playing the team they beat in 1984, that they have won this competition several times. Roma now look at it and think, ‘if we can come back from 4-1 down to Barcelona, there’s nothing we can’t do. Nobody expected us to be here so we’ll just for it.’
“Roma coach Eusebio di Francesco is unwilling to compromise on his ideals. I think they will stay true to themselves at Anfield, press high, play with a high line and compress the space.”
‘Liverpool are not just Salah’
Roma coach Eusebio di Francesco says his side will not sit back against Liverpool in the first leg and insisted there is more to focus on than just the threat of Salah.
“They have to do well to force us deep,” said Di Francesco. “The decisive thing will be for us to stay compact.
“Liverpool are not just Salah. The front three combine really well together and that’s not an insignificant factor.
“We haven’t prepared this game with one player in mind.”
Di Francesco also said his team would not be intimated by the atmosphere created at “incredible” Anfield and urged his players to “make the most of Liverpool’s possible weaknesses”.
“The beauty of English stadiums is amazing,” said the Italian, whose side are third in Serie A, 18 points behind leaders Juventus.
“In Italy we’re not used to having the fans right behind us in this way. Liverpool will have the fans on their side – but our away fans will support us.
“Liverpool are different to Barcelona in terms of pace and we need to play well to win and have even more of a team-mentality.”
Salah to equal Gerrard record? Pre-match stats
- This is the sixth European meeting between Liverpool and Roma and the first since March 2002. Of the previous five, Liverpool have won two, with two draws and one Roma win.
- Liverpool are yet to lose to Roma in the European Cup/Champions League in three meetings (W1 D2), with one of those draws in the 1984 final, which Liverpool won 4-2 on penalties in the Stadio Olimpico.
- This is Liverpool’s 10th appearance in the semi-final of the European Cup/Champions League – they’ve progressed to the final on seven of the previous nine occasions, losing only in 1964-65 against Inter Milan and in 2007-08 against Chelsea.
- Roma are appearing in their first European semi-final for 27 years, when they faced Brondby in the Uefa Cup in 1990-91. Their only previous European Cup/Champions League semi-final was in 1983-84, when they eliminated Dundee United to face Liverpool in the final.
- Liverpool have not won the first leg of a European semi-final in any of their past seven attempts (D3 L4), since a 4-0 win over Panathinaikos in the European Cup in 1984-85.
- The Reds have scored 33 goals in this season’s competition, the most by an English team in a single Champions League campaign.
- Roma have won just one of their past 14 away Champions League games (D5 L8), a 2-1 win at Qarabag earlier this season.
- The Yellow and Reds have also won just one of their 19 European away matches in England (D7 L11), although that win was at Anfield in February 2001 in the Uefa Cup – current manager Eusebio di Francesco was an unused sub in that game.
- Two of the three players to have had a hand in at least 10 goals in the Champions League this season are Liverpool players – Roberto Firmino (8 goals and 4 assists) and Mohamed Salah (8 goals and 2 assists).
- Edin Dzeko has been involved in six of Roma’s past eight away Champions League goals (5 goals, 1 assist). The Bosnian has scored two goals in his past three starts at Anfield against Liverpool (both for Man City in January 2012 and March 2015).
- Mo Salah has scored in each of his past four Champions League starts for Liverpool – the only Reds player to score in five consecutively was Steven Gerrard between October 2007 and February 2008.
- Roma are without a clean sheet in their last 26 away Champions League matches; the second longest run in the competition’s history behind only Celtic, who went 30 away matches without one between 2001 and 2016.