Rome (AFP) – Liverpool will not make the same mistake as Barcelona and underestimate Roma at their fortress Stadio Olimpico, Jurgen Klopp has warned as his side target a place in the Champions League final.
The five-time champions have a 5-2 lead heading into the second leg of a semi-final overshadowed by security concerns and are favourites to reach their eighth final and first since 2007.
But Roma — who last reached the final in 1984 when they lost on penalties to Liverpool — have not conceded a goal at home in the Champions League this season.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s side beat Chelsea and Barcelona 3-0, with the win over the Spaniards overturning a 4-1 first-leg deficit to put them through to the final four.
Despite conceding two late goals in last week’s emphatic first-leg win at Anfield, Klopp knows his side’s destiny is in their hands as they bid to seal their place in the May 26 final in Kiev against Real Madrid.
“After the game, people acted as if we lost, but we won 5-2. And after a week people say Roma ‘only’ need to win 3-0, but that’s quite a result,” Klopp told a press conference in Rome.
“I’m not here to say anything about Barcelona. In that game, Roma were more than ready.
“Everybody’s telling us that it’s quite difficult and it’s possible but nobody told Barcelona, because nobody imagined it could happen.
“I didn’t need a warning but if I did, there it was. We’re in a much better situation than I would have thought before the game, that’s the truth.
– ‘Fight for our dreams’ –
“Whatever I say, we still have to play, and I really like that fact.
“We are here to fight for our dreams, that’s how it is, and we want to go to the final as you can imagine,” the Liverpool boss continued.
“But that means there is a football game to play and I am really looking forward to it because that’s what you want. You want to play when it is big stakes for the big things, and that is why we are here. It is a great opportunity.”
Di Francesco insisted his side “want to try and do something big in a stadium with 70,000 people”.
“The desire to make another miracle happen must push us all to give that extra something.”
The safety of fans in the Italian capital has overshadowed the build-up, with 3,000 police officers deployed around the city for the match after a Liverpool fan was attacked by hard-core Roma ultras outside the club’s Anfield stadium last week and left in a coma.
Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum said that the Liverpool squad had been “devastated” to hear about the condition of the fan, Sean Cox.
“It’s a game and everybody has to be safe and enjoy it,” he said.
Roma’s players showed their support for Cox by wearing shirts bearing the words “Forza Sean” (Come on Sean) during a training session on Tuesday, but the atmosphere in the city remains tense.
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