‘I hope Dzeko can be Roma’s Salah’ – Di Francesco eyes ‘miracle’ Liverpool comeback

Eusebio Di Francesco is looking for Edin Dzeko to inspire a Roma turnaround in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool, hoping he can be the Serie A club’s answer to Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool ran out 5-2 winners at Anfield in the first leg, with Salah starring against his old club with a brace, though their concession of two late goals gives Roma a glimmer of hope ahead of the return fixture in Rome.

As such, a 3-0 win for Roma will be enough for them to qualify for the final, and they can take encouragement from the fact they defeated Barcelona by the same scoreline after losing 4-1 in their first meeting in the quarter-final.

And Di Francesco is looking to Dzeko to lead from the front, just as he did against Barca, with Roma aiming to produce another unlikely turnaround.

“All the players need to feel responsible and be pleased about that [responsibility],” Di Francesco told reporters in his pre-match news conference.

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“As coach, I’m pleased to have this responsibility, but the players are the ones doing it on the pitch.

“Even more so with Dzeko – I hope he can be our Salah from the first leg, so he can pull things back and determine a great comeback. A player of his quality, ability – it’s right that he has this responsibility.”

Roma are yet to concede a goal at home in the Champions League this season and while they face an uphill task to progress, Di Francesco believes the club’s supporters can play a major part in helping the team complete “another miracle” in Europe.

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“The fact we’ve conceded so few chances to opponents at home in Europe is due to our support. We’ve only really struggled against Atletico Madrid. Since then, we’ve managed to contain, and I hope we see the same tomorrow [Wednesday].

“Repeating is always difficult, but we have the right mentality and our supporters can help us pull off another miracle.”

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Liverpool v Roma Betting Tips: Salah a short price to score but look to the visitors for the value

Having avoided both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League, Liverpool fans have every right to be confident about their chances of contesting another European final this season.

Bookies expecting goals galore

888Sport make the Reds 11/20 (1.55) to win the first leg of their tie against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday. While that price might be a little short for some to consider as a single wager, the bookies also expect plenty of goals – both teams to score is just 13/20 (1.65) – so the scorer markets could offer some attractive alternative wagers.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool

Super Salah expected to haunt Roma

The name on everyone’s lips, of course, will be Mohamed Salah. Having scooped the PFA Player of the Year award, the heavy odds-on favourite for the Premier League Golden Boot is 8/11 (1.73) to find the net once more against his former club.

With 31 goals to his name in the top-flight, plus another nine in the Champions League, the Egypt international looks a worthwhile option to strike in what’s expected to be an open game.

Salah has scored 10 games in his last eight games for club and country so the consistency is there to justify the odds-on quotes, but that might not be to everyone’s taste.

The 13/5 (3.60) about the 25-year-old in the first goalscorer market could also be interesting for punters. Salah has broken the deadlock 11 times in the Premier League this season and scored first against Manchester City in the quarter final tie at Anfield.

Elsewhere for Jurgen Klopp’s side, Roberto Firmino is 7/5 (2.40) to score anytime while Sadio Mane is 9/5 (2.80) to find the net during the 90 minutes.

Liverpool v Roma Anytime scorer odds

Dzeko the main danger for the visitors

Liverpool’s defence on home soil has been much better than their efforts on the road, but Roma are sure to test Klopp’s men and showed no fear in their remarkable comeback against Barca in the previous round. 

With neither side expected to keep a clean sheet, the 5/2 (3.50) about Edin Dezko to score could be worth a play for those seeking a bigger price. That’s currently an industry best quote, too, which adds to the appeal of this particular bet.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international has been on target in his last three Champions League games, with one in each leg against Barcelona plus the vital goal against Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 16.

While Dzeko doesn’t boast the prolific domestic tally that Salah can – 14 goals in Serie A this season – the experienced forward still has six Champions League goals this term and will definitely test the Reds’ backline.

Betting Banner - Best BetEdin Dzeko to score anytime at 5/2 (3.50) for a 1pt stake with 888Sport

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‘Crazy’ fans can help Roma knock out Liverpool, says Voller

Home advantage in the second leg could be crucial for Roma in their Champions League semi-final with Liverpool, according to Rudi Voller.

The Italian club face their Premier League opponents on Tuesday at Anfield in the first leg of their last-four showdown, with the return fixture taking place at Stadio Olimpico the following week.

Voller – who featured in more games for Roma than anyone else during his illustrious playing career – feels the draw has been kind to his old club.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side produced a stunning fightback on their own turf to knock Barcelona out in the last round.

“They are lucky that the first leg will be played in Liverpool. I know that the fans will go crazy there [in Liverpool],” Voller told Omnisport.

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“But the Stadio Olimpico, with the crazy fans, is also nice. You saw against Barcelona that many things can happen there.

“They have a good chance to advance to the final.”

Roma’s astonishing recovery against Barca came after they had lost 4-1 on Spanish soil, though Voller felt that result was not a fair reflection of the game.

However, goals from Edin Dzeko and Daniele De Rossi cut the deficit down to one in the return before Kostas Manolas delivered the knockout blow, heading home in the 82nd minute.

Voller believes Dzeko will play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of the tie with Liverpool, along with goalkeeper Alisson.

“I watched the first leg [against Barcelona], therefore it [the comeback] wasn’t that big of a surprise to me as it was to many people,” the former Germany international, who is now sporting director at Bayer Leverkusen, said.

“The 3-0 result in the second leg was, of course, very extreme. Roma played very well in Barcelona and they lost unfairly 4-1. It was very deserving that they advanced.

“They are not the underdog against Liverpool with their good goalkeeper [Alisson], the defence and Edin Dzeko who is an outstanding striker.”

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Move over, Neymar! James Milner & the players with most assists in Champions League this season

James Milner may not be one of the most exciting players in world football but he is one of the most effective, as underlined by the fact that the Liverpool ace is on the verge of making Champions League history.

Ahead of his side’s semi-final first-leg meeting with Roma at Anfield, the England international needs just one more assist to break the tournament’s all-time record for a single season.

Indeed, Milner has already created eight goals during the Reds’ remarkable run to the last four – three more than his nearest rivals, team-mate Roberto Firmino and Luis Suarez of the already-eliminated Barcelona.

Should the 32-year-old midfielder turn provider again against Roma, he will claim outright possession of the record from Neymar and Wayne Rooney, both of whom racked up seven assists, in 2016-17 and 2013-14, respectively.

Milner’s achievement is made all the more remarkable for the fact that he has played only 611 minutes – fewer than both Neymar (797) and Rooney (765).

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He actually started Liverpool’s Champions League campaign on the bench, failing to see any game time in the draws with Sevilla and Spartak Moscow.

However, as soon as he was added to Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up, the Reds began winning, with Milner racking up an assist in both the away and home wins over Maribor. Milner set up three goals in the 7-0 demolition of Spartak, which saw Liverpool progress to the knockout stage as winners of Group E.

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Milner teed Firmino up for Liverpool’s fourth in their 5-0 win at Porto in the last 16 before doing likewise for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the rousing 3-0 victory over Manchester at Anfield in the quarter-finals.

As a result, the Reds’ unlikely hero is now poised to do something no player has ever done before in Champions League history!

Champions League assists PS

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Fantasy Football: Roma land four players in our Champions League Team of the Week

What a whirlwind of action this week’s Champions League matches were! As we mentioned in the preview, the big leads in three of the matches should have set up for exciting reprises and they did not disappoint. Roma were easily the story of the week, having come back from three goals down to beat Barcelona and advance to the next round of the competition.

As such, the Italian side has landed four players in our Goal Team of the Week. Below, you can see the seven other players who made the cut.

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GK: David Soria – Sevilla – 1 game, 6 saves, 1 clean sheet = 10 points

DEF: Kostas Manolas – Roma – 1 game, 1 goal, 1 clean sheet = 14 points

What a reversal of fortune for the Greek defender after scoring an own goal and conceding three total in the first leg. Manolas’ goal and clean sheet were vital to Roma’s shock 3-0 comeback against that Barcelona that saw the Italian side advance. We have yet to find out who will face Roma in the semifinals but no one will be wanting to face their defence – which may well be the best one left in this tournament.

DEF: Mats Hummels – Bayern – 1 game, 1 clean sheet = 7 points

DEF: Federico Fazio – Roma – 1 game, 1 clean sheet = 7 points

DEF: Gabriel Mercado – Sevilla – 1 game, 1 clean sheet = 7 points

Florenzi De Rossi Roma Barcellona Champions League

MID: Daniele De Rossi – Roma – 1 game, 1 goal, 1 assist = 11 points

In a crazy turn of fate, De Rossi, like Manolas, also went from scoring an own goal in the first leg to scoring a vital goal against Barcelona in the second. The goal is even more impressive considering it was his first in the Champions League this season. As such, there really isn’t much Fantasy value here, but I’m sure he’ll settle for having a place in the semifinal.

MID: Blaise Matuidi – Juventus – 1 game, 1 goal = 8 points

MID: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – 1 game, 1 goal = 8 points

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Salah scored and Liverpool won. His goal against Manchester City was his 39th in all competitions and eighth in Europe this season. The Egyptian has now moved into second place in the Goal game behind only Cristiano Ronaldo. Regardless of who Liverpool draw for the next round, Salah will be a must own.

Manolas POW

FOR: Mario Mandzukic – Juventus – 1 game, 2 goals = 12 points

Juventus fell a late penalty short of advancing past Real Madrid, but not for lack of trying by Mandzukic. His two goals helped them back into the match and goes into the catalogue of big match moments for the Croatian striker. Assuming he is back with Juventus next season, his Fantasy value would be limited as the majority of his minutes seem to come via injury or suspension to Gonzalo Higuain or Paulo Dybala.

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FOR: Eden Dzeko – Roma – 1 game, 1 goal, 1 assist = 10 points

FOR: Roberto Firmino – Liverpool – 1 game, 1 goal = 7 points

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