Reds to advance in style: Roma vs Liverpool Champions League Preview

Liverpool travel to Roma for the second leg of the Champions League Semi Final with a three-goal lead. Infogol’s Analyst previews the match, using expected goals (xG) to generate the best bets.

Roma Expected Goals (xG)

“We haven’t prepared the game to shutdown [Mo] Salah” said Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco ahead of the first leg at Anfield, and the ensuing 90 minutes suggests that was probably not the best decision of his managerial career.

The Romans couldn’t contain their former winger, with the PFA Player of the year scoring two and setting up two in a 5-2 defeat for the Italians.

They looked defensively inept for most of the game, conceding a host of chances (xG: LIV 3.7 – 1.8 ROM), and there has to be vast improvements on Wednesday if they are to have any chance of qualifying.

Liverpool vs Roma 1st Leg Shot-map

Two late goals gave Roma fans some hope - after all, they overturned a 4-1 first leg defeat to the mighty Barcelona in the last round, so anything is possible.

A comfortable 4-1 league win against Chievo at the weekend will have renewed some confidence, and Di Francesco insists that his side “believe in the comeback”.

However, this Liverpool team is a better attacking outfit than Barcelona in the Champions League this season (BAR 1.5 xG/game, LIV 2.7 xG/game), so keeping a clean-sheet in Rome will be a much tougher task.

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Liverpool Expected Goals (xG)

Jurgen Klopp’s side were exhilarating in the first leg last week, and Roma just couldn’t live with them. At 5-0 it was tie over, but two late goals offer their opponents hope.

Mo Salah was once again unplayable, with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane also too hot to handle in a first leg which once again proved their potency - the trio have now scored 88 of Liverpool’s 125 goals in all competitions this season.

A goalless draw at home to Stoke wasn’t ideal preparation for this second leg, but it was a much-changed Liverpool side and even then it was a game in which they once again created plenty of chances, and were unfortunate not to win (xG: LIV 2.2 – 0.8 STO). Salah even showed us that he is human with a one-on-one miss in the first 10 minutes (67% chance of scoring).

Liverpool have been the best attacking team in the Champions League this season, generating 29.9 xG in their 11 matches. If they continue to generate chances at that rate, then they are highly likely to score in Rome.

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Conclusion

Liverpool have one foot in the Champions League final, but will be well aware of what Roma did to Barcelona in the last round. With Roma having to be on the front foot, this is expected to play into the hands of a ruthless Liverpool team who look good value to get the win given their proficiency at playing fast, counterattacking football.

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