Tuesday 26 March 2019

Roma did not want Pool draw says Mo

Salah is relishing return to old club for crunch European semi-final

Feared: Mo Salah’s old Roma team-mates didn’t want to draw Liverpool. Photo: Reuters
Feared: Mo Salah’s old Roma team-mates didn’t want to draw Liverpool. Photo: Reuters

Liverpool have been drawn against Roma in the Champions League semi-finals - and Reds forward Mohamed Salah revealed that his former team-mates wanted to avoid his side.

The Reds are the last English side remaining in Europe's premier club competition after beating Manchester City 5-1 across two legs to join Italian side Roma, German giants Bayern Munich and reigning champions Real Madrid in the last four.

Though Real have won the tournament 12 times and Bayern have been crowned champions on five occasions, Salah said his ex-colleagues informed him the last thing they wanted was to be drawn against Liverpool.

Roma beat Barcelona in astonishing fashion in the quarter-finals, overturning a 4-1 first-leg deficit by winning 3-0 in Italy on Tuesday night to progress on away goals, and the Giallorossi will once again be away from home as the first leg is at Anfield on April 24 before the return fixture on May 2.

Salah said of his old team-mates: "They've all said, 'We don't want to play against Liverpool'.

"It would be nice to go back to Rome, it's my old club. I love the fans there and they love me too.

"I still talk to most of the players there. We were very close to each other and we are good friends.

"Of course, I have happy memories. We played together for two years and were fighting together in all the games. We had a good time in the dressing room."

Roma may have lost Salah to Liverpool last summer but Reds boss Jurgen Klopp insisted their display against Barcelona this week epitomised how strong they still are.

"It will be two difficult games because they are fantastic side," Klopp added. "You saw the two games against Barcelona. If somebody only saw these two games then you know already pretty much everything about Roma.

"They play a good season after a difficult transfer window for them last year. They lost Mo and Emerson Palmieri, two really key players for them, and they still play a really good season, fighting for the Champions League again.

"I watched the second leg against Barcelona - that was outstandingly good."


The game is a repeat of 1984 European Cup final, when Liverpool won on penalties to secure their fourth title.

Roma sporting director Monchi believes the tie also offers the Italians hope of progress.

"It feels like a great opportunity to chase the joy we were not able to experience so many years ago, but of course it will be difficult because Liverpool are an extremely strong side," he said.

"We need to think about ourselves and try to reproduce what we were able to show against Barcelona."

Defender Andy Robertson said ahead of the draw the team would take great confidence from their performances against the Premier League champions-elect into their next European encounter.

"This club have been here before and they know how hard it is, regardless of who you are playing, to get to the final and try and win this trophy," Robertson said.

"We don't care who we get - we know how hard it's going to be and we need to try and work so hard to get to the final because we need to deserve it.

"If we can put in performances like we did over these two legs (against City) then hopefully that's enough."

In the other semi-final, Bayern face Real, with the first leg in Germany on April 25.

The two met at the quarter-final stage last year and Real advanced after scoring three times in extra-time of the second leg once Bayern had gone down to 10 men.

"It's a cracker, of course, a clash of giants in a positive sense," Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes said.

"Two teams with great tradition in European and world football, both play attractive football and love the sport.

"It's a difficult draw for both sides."

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