Salah, Real Madrid or Bayern: who is the better opponent for Roma

12 April at 20:20

While what happened at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday wasn’t in the script at all, it certainly came out of nothing. And the fact it was against a side like Barcelona meant that it was something special. Something the giallorossi had hardly witnessed before. Kostas Manolas had redeemed himself and the comeback was historical. And while Roma did make their way into the semi-finals of the Champions League, they are in a very tricky situation now.

With Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool now in the semi-finals, its a typical case of devil and the deep sea for Eusebio di Francesco.

The side that they would absolutely hate to come up against is Real Madrid. It almost seems as if they are destined to win the crown once again and while their triumph over Juventus was controversial and not as deserved as their other wins, Zinedine Zidane’s men seem like the best bet to win the title again this season.

With the side oozing with pragmatism, Zidane has moulded this side into a one that is meant to go far in the Champions League, especially in the knockout rounds. They manage the games to perfection and get the results they need. And its not just about the players they have. And they certainly should be avoided by Roma. If the draw pits them with the Los Blancos, Roma must consider themselves eliminated.

While Bayern Munich haven’t been as dominant as usual this season, but the fact that they have come this far certainly means. Jupp Heynckes is one expert at game-management and his flexibility in terms of style and tactics makes him a special manager. And Bayern are a product of that currently. They aren’t the typical Pep Guardiola side that they were or the counter-attack relying that they were under Carlo Ancelotti. They are more well-rounded than either of them. And they thrive on it.

And while Liverpool were really impressive in both of their ties against Manchester City, they seem to be the least toughest of the three sides. Their attacking prowess is undoubted, the same side has been found wanting defensively in a lot of games in the Premier League, especially those that have target men up front like Edin Dzeko. Be it Swansea, Tottenham or Manchester United, Liverpool have slipped up defensively whenever the opposition has boasted of directness and power.

Roma shifted to a three at the back shape to catch Barcelona off guard in wide areas in the second-leg and with Edin Dzeko in top form, they managed to outnumber them in the midfield too. Doing that will trouble Liverpool, whose expansive wingers in Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will struggle to come out if the wing-backs keep them back.

Lapses in concentration at the back has been a problem for Liverpool and with a striker like Edin Dzeko up front of the giallorossi, making a minutest of errors can cost them big. They get caught will defending crosses and long-balls, something Manchester City hardly took advantage of in both the legs. And they paid for it.

Roma would have to make sure that they do what City didn’t do. Be direct and long. Use Dzeko’s hold up and physical presence and make sure the wing-backs put in as many crosses as they can.

While it won’t be easy and its easier said than done, Liverpool are the the least toughest of the sides that Roma must fancy.

 

Kaustubh Pandey(@Kaus_Pandey17)

12 April

While what happened at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday wasn’t in the script at all, it certainly came out of nothing. And the fact it was against a side like Barcelona meant that it was something special. Something the giallorossi had hardly witnessed before. Kostas Manolas had redeemed himself and the comeback was historical. And while Roma did make their way into the semi-finals of the Champions League, they are in a very tricky situation now.

With Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool now in the semi-finals, its a typical case of devil and the deep sea for Eusebio di Francesco.

The side that they would absolutely hate to come up against is Real Madrid. It almost seems as if they are destined to win the crown once again and while their triumph over Juventus was controversial and not as deserved as their other wins, Zinedine Zidane’s men seem like the best bet to win the title again this season.

With the side oozing with pragmatism, Zidane has moulded this side into a one that is meant to go far in the Champions League, especially in the knockout rounds. They manage the games to perfection and get the results they need. And its not just about the players they have. And they certainly should be avoided by Roma. If the draw pits them with the Los Blancos, Roma must consider themselves eliminated.

While Bayern Munich haven’t been as dominant as usual this season, but the fact that they have come this far certainly means. Jupp Heynckes is one expert at game-management and his flexibility in terms of style and tactics makes him a special manager. And Bayern are a product of that currently. They aren’t the typical Pep Guardiola side that they were or the counter-attack relying that they were under Carlo Ancelotti. They are more well-rounded than either of them. And they thrive on it.

And while Liverpool were really impressive in both of their ties against Manchester City, they seem to be the least toughest of the three sides. Their attacking prowess is undoubted, the same side has been found wanting defensively in a lot of games in the Premier League, especially those that have target men up front like Edin Dzeko. Be it Swansea, Tottenham or Manchester United, Liverpool have slipped up defensively whenever the opposition has boasted of directness and power.

Roma shifted to a three at the back shape to catch Barcelona off guard in wide areas in the second-leg and with Edin Dzeko in top form, they managed to outnumber them in the midfield too. Doing that will trouble Liverpool, whose expansive wingers in Mo Salah and Sadio Mane will struggle to come out if the wing-backs keep them back.

Lapses in concentration at the back has been a problem for Liverpool and with a striker like Edin Dzeko up front of the giallorossi, making a minutest of errors can cost them big. They get caught will defending crosses and long-balls, something Manchester City hardly took advantage of in both the legs. And they paid for it.

Roma would have to make sure that they do what City didn’t do. Be direct and long. Use Dzeko’s hold up and physical presence and make sure the wing-backs put in as many crosses as they can.

While it won’t be easy and its easier said than done, Liverpool are the the least toughest of the sides that Roma must fancy.

 

Kaustubh Pandey(@Kaus_Pandey17)

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