With the balls drawn and ties announced, Roma & Liverpool are set to contest a highly-competitive Champions League semi-final loaded with intriguing storylines.
The stage is now set. After Roma pulled off the improbable comeback earlier this week against Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico, i Lupi travel as a fearless pack, continuing their Cinderella UEFA Champions League run to Kyiv by clashing with Liverpool in the semi-final phase of the tournament.
Shortly following the draw, the narratives were formed and the focus immediately shifted towards Liverpool’s superlative Egyptian star Mohamed Salah who was sold by Roma last summer to Anfield for a transfer fee of €42 million that could rise to €50 million.
The 25-year old superstar was an adored figure in the Italian capitale for the two scintillating seasons he spent at the club, scoring 34 goals in 83 matches for the Giallorossi. Even after departing, Salah’s remained a favorite amongst Roma supporters and has since become a cult hero around Merseyside for the revelation he has been in his first season as a Red; 39 goals in 44 appearances.
Gravitating towards the former Chelsea and Fiorentina talent is without question warranted as he will continue to be the focus over two legs for Jürgen Klopp’s side, but beyond the ‘Egyptian Messi’ are a few interesting tidbits that are worthy of attention and that should be brought to the forefront.
History in H2H Battles
Historically, Roma and Liverpool have shared the pitch together a total of five times, with the English giants having the upperhand overall with 2 wins to the Italian’s one.
The first, and most notable, meeting came nearly 34 years ago in the 1983-84 European Cup Final, coincidentally on Roma’s home turf at the Stadio Olimpico. The thrilling finale ended 1-1 in regular time with defender Phil Neal and forward Roberto Pruzzo each getting on the scoresheet. Eventually, extra time was not sufficient enough to crown a victor, so it were penalties ultimately deciding that in the end with Liverpool winning 4-2.
Years later, additional chapters in their limited rivalry were opened in the fourth round of the 2000/01 UEFA Cup, with Liverpool edging out Roma 2-1 on aggregate over two legs, and twice during the UEFA Champions League second group stage that same season.
Though the two clubs are not considered to be heavy rivals, there is a past and Roma certainly would like to exact revenge for that 1983-84 final by besting Liverpool to make their return to the club football’s grandest stage once again.
Together, Roma and Liverpool share a few similarities in terms of their owners/ownership groups.
James Pallotta, the acting president of Roma, was born in Boston’s Italian North End neighborhood in 1958 and has a profound passion about professional sports seeing as he’s so heavily involved today.
As a co-owner and executive board member of one of the National Basketball Association’s most winningest franchises, the Boston Celtics, Pallotta eventually added to his portfolio by acquring Roma in 2011 with a group of American investors before becoming the 23rd chairman in club history.
Meanwhile, Fenway Sports Group (an American sports investment company) purchased Liverpool back in 2010 from previous owners George Gillett Jr. and Tom Hicks for £300 million. Businessmen John Henry and Tom Werner, the two most recognisable members in charge of FSG, are prominent figures in professional American sports, having already ventured into the industry with several sizable investments. Most notably, Henry and Werner are very much known for their success as the key men behind one of Major League Baseball’s storied teams, the Boston Red Sox, and their three World Series titles (2004, 2007 and 2013) in this era.
Anfield and Fenway Park, both owned entirely under the limited liability company, are two of the oldest grounds in their respective sports today, with opening years of 1884 and 1912 respectively. Collectively, there is plenty of tradition embedded into the fibers of each ground, making the two just a few of the world’s most hallowed museums of sport today, along with the Stadio Olimpico which is a colosseum in its own.
The last time these two clubs squared off was in non-official competition in the seasonal summer friendly U.S. International Champions Cup tournament back in August 2016 in St. Louis. Edin Dzeko and Salah delivered goals for the Giallorossi who were managed by Luciano Spalletti at the time, hanging on to defeat Liverpool 2-1. But of course, the atmosphere, stakes and tension will be nowhere near than what we will witness over 180 heart-pounding minutes in just a few weeks time.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 13, 2018
The first leg of this titanic semi-final will take place at Anfield on Tuesday 24 April, with the return match in Rome at the Stadio Olimpico Wednesday, 2 May. Winner will face off against either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich on Saturday 26 May at NSC Olimpiyskiy in Kyiv.
Dubbed the ‘Boston Derby’ for the ties to the historic Massachusetts city these two owners share, Roma and Liverpool has all the fixins, storylines, star power and stakes to become an instant European classic, and it cannot come soon enough.