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ROMA’s biggest issue in their Champions League semi-final second-leg with Liverpool tonight will be the mental pressure of knowing they must score three goals without reply to progress.
That’s according to former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson.
The Premier League side lead 5-2 at the half-way point of their last-four tie having blown the Italians away at Anfield last week with ex-Roma winger Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino both scoring twice and Sadio Mane also on the score-sheet.
The visitors scored twice late on to restore hope of a second-leg comeback at the Stadio Olimpico this evening (7.45pm), having come from 4-1 down against Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
But Liverpool possess a fierce threat on the counter with their front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane having scored 88 goals in all competitions this term – and trying to keep them out while also chasing goals at the other end will take a toll on Roma psychologically, suggests Lawrenson.
“With the likes of Salah, you cannot play without the ball,” he said on BBC 5Live.
“Looking at the way that Roma are, I would think that would be the big thing for them, to basically just deny Liverpool the ball.
“I also think as well that it’s really, really difficult if you’re one of the [Roma] back three or back four because all along the way there’s this mantra, ‘Do not concede, do not concede, do not concede’.
“It’s really difficult when you think about the fact that they have to go forward and they need three goals to get through the tie.
“I’m not a great believer in a lot of things when you talk about the mental side of the game, that comes from within and yourself, but I think that’s a real issue for Roma.”
Roma are looking to reach the final of the competition for just the second time in the club’s history, their previous final outing having seen them beaten on their own patch by a Liverpool side starring Lawrenson in 1984.
Five-time champions Liverpool last reached the Champions League final in 2007 and are looking to end a six-year wait for silverware.
The winner will take on defending champions Real Madrid in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, on May 26.