Jurgen Klopp and Eusebio Di Francesco set for mouthwatering managerial match-upby Chloe Beresford / 16 April 2018, 10:56Tweet
While Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was busy ensuring his side didn’t let their 3-0 lead versus Manchester City slip in their Champions League quarter-final second leg, he was unaware of what was unfolding at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma shocked everybody by overturning Barcelona’s 4-1 first leg lead at Camp Nou, scoring three goals without reply in order to progress through to the semi-finals of the elite competition.
“I found out when I walked up the stairs to this press conference, and somebody told me,” Klopp admitted when questioned about the shock win.
“I really thought that it was a joke. Not that I don't respect Roma, absolutely the opposite, they are a fantastic team. They lost Mo Salah but are in the semis, that's quite a big thing.”
Not only did they lose Mohamed Salah to the Reds this summer, but Antonio Rudiger and Emerson were sold to Chelsea and talented midfielder Leandro Paredes moved on to Zenit St. Petersburg. There was also the small matter of the retirement of Francesco Totti, but his replacement as Captain Daniele De Rossi showed he was more than capable of carrying out that role versus Barca.
Former Coach Luciano Spalletti also moved on to Inter for the 2017/18 campaign, but the Giallorossi had a fresh start when their former midfielder Eusebio Di Francesco came in from Sassuolo and American owner James Pallotta also secured the signing of legendary former Sevilla sporting director Monchi.
The new boss could be compared to Klopp in the way he took previous club Sassuolo from their first ever promotion to Serie A to a place in the Europa League, just as his German counterpart elevated Borussia Dortmund from 13th place in the Bundesliga upon his arrival in 2008 to an unprecedented domestic double in 2011/12.
Brilliant scenes after the final whistle between Liverpool players and fans...— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 10, 2018
Who is Jurgen Klopp smiling and waving at in the stands? pic.twitter.com/FgTPAfxvDk
Tactically, both Coaches are firm believers in attacking with their respective 4-3-3 systems, but have also proven their flexibility on more than one occasion this term. Klopp has even gone so far as to experiment with a back three during a 5-1 win over Brighton in the league and Di Francesco decided to gamble with a 3-4-1-2 versus Barcelona, and we now understand just how much that switch paid off.
“Liverpool have pulled off similar exploits to ours,” De Rossi, hero of that second leg said to Roma TV.
“They beat Manchester City, who I thought were the favourites to win the whole thing, and have a Coach who drives me crazy! Therefore we’re concerned, but that’s normal. It was the same with Shakhtar and Barcelona. They’re a team that play good football, but we’re convinced that we’ll have chances of our own.”
Both Roma and their boss are very much the underdog in this tie, EDF having never participated in the Champions League before. However this matchup will represent an opportunity for the capital club to erase the memory of disappointment in the 1984 European Cup Final, the closest this side have ever come to non-domestic success.
In front of their home supporters at the Olimpico, the Giallorossi drew 1-1 with Liverpool thanks to goals from Phil Neal and Roberto Pruzzo. The stalemate was eventually decided by penalties, the Englishmen lifting the cup after Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani missed their spot-kicks.
How sweet would it be then, for Roma supporters, if they could progress past Liverpool to reach the Champions League final some 34 years later. One thing is for certain if they are to do so, their boss Eusebio Di Francesco must be at his absolute tactical best if he is to overcome his more experienced opposite number Jurgen Klopp.
Every goal he reacted like this. Always kept us grounded. He tried to keep an entire club, stadium and fan base calm. It's a strong mentality that many doubted he would have. History was achieved because before anyone YOU believed.— Flo-Calcio AS Roma (@CalcioASRoma) April 10, 2018
Eusebio Di Francesco, Grazie. pic.twitter.com/NhdtQtLdKW