UCL SEMI FINAL DRAW LIVE: BAYERN TO FACE MADRID AS ENGLISH SIDE LIVERPOOL DRAW TO ROMA
Liverpool have been handed a golden opportunity to reach their first Champions League final in 11 years after they were drawn to face Roma in the semi-finals.
The Italians were the surprise package of the quarter-finals after shocking Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico, coming back from 4-1 on aggregate to knock out the five-time winners, but they still present the easiest draw for the Premier League side.
As a result, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, two heavyweights of the competition, will slug it out for the other spot in May’s final as they renew their formidable rivalry.
Jurgen Klopp men face the Serie A side at Anfield for the first leg on April 24, before travelling to the Italian capital on May 2.
It is the perfect draw for Klopp, who cut a pensive figure as he watched the draw from the back of the room of Melwood’s training centre.
There were plenty of staff around Liverpool’s HQ watching the drama, but the German boss sat by himself, furthest away from the screen and behind the rest of his staff.
He spoke to Liverpool’s official website after the draw, immediately trying to downplay the importance of avoiding a Spanish or German opponent.
‘Because I knew I’d have to say something after it, I tried to think about what I feel, but it was not that I thought “Thank God not Bayern, thank God not Real Madrid, yippee Roma” or the other way around,’ he said.
‘It is just the draw and I know it is very exciting, but it is good because the most important news is we are still in the competition. Whichever opponent we would have got, I would have said there is a chance because it is football – so there is a chance against Roma.
‘But if anybody think this is the easiest draw then I cannot help this person; they obviously didn’t see both games against Barcelona. In the first result, the 4-1, it was not like the game was – it was Messi genius against a good side of Roma. The second leg was outstanding, it was outstanding what they did. They should have probably won four or five-nil – I was really impressed.’
Klopp has never faced Roma as a manager and admitted he has never even been to the Italian capital in his life. The same cannot be said for Liverpool.
There they will return to the scene of one of their most famous European nights, where they beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final.
The victory came at the height of Liverpool’s powers in the 1980s, with captain Graeme Souness famously leading his side in a rendition of ‘I don’t know what it is, but I love it’ by Chris Rea in the tunnel before kick off.
The tie will also see Liverpool talisman Mo Salah come up against his old club.
The Egyptian left Roma for Merseyside in the summer, having spent two seasons and scored 34 goals for the Giallorossi. He has surpassed that total in less than one season at Anfield.
They have already overcome taller orders en route to the last four. Liverpool reached the semi-finals after beating Manchester City in an all-Premier League clash.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL DRAW
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid
First leg (Allianz Arena): April 25
Second leg (Santiago Bernabeu): May 1
LIVERPOOL v AS Roma
First leg (Anfield): April 24
Second leg (Stadio Olimpico): May 2.
In the other tie, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich meet at the semi-final stage of the competition for the seventh time in their history, renwing an age-old rivalry.
Zinedine Zidane’s side are looking to win their third title in succession but will find a stubborn opponent in the form of Jupp Heynckes side.
The pair met at the quarter-final stage last season, where the Spanish side needed extra time to continue on their path to the final, while Heynckes was the last manager to lead Bayern to glory in the competition when they claimed the treble back in 2013.
The final awaits the winner of each tie, with the Champions League showpiece taking place at the NSC Olimpiyskiy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday May 26.