LONDON – AS Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco says his team must aim for a “miracle” against Liverpool with the Italian club trailing 5-2 ahead of today’s Champions League semi-final second leg.
Roma came back from a 4-1 deficit in their quarter-final against Barcelona by winning the return leg in the Italian capital 3-0.
“We must have belief and with this mentality, with these fans and this passion around the team, try to perform another miracle - and saying miracle is perfectly fine,” Di Francesco told reporters yesterday.
“Liverpool are really dangerous and they can hurt you as soon as you give them an inch. I want to clarify one thing - in a Champions League semi-final in front of 70000 people, do you expect a team just to yield?
“No, we’ve got to be a battling team who give all they can - then the game can end 4-1 either way, but what I want to see is enthusiasm and desire to go beyond the limits,” he said.
Roma have not conceded a goal at home in this year’s Champions League campaign.
“At home in Europe this season, we’ve only really struggled against Atletico Madrid,” Di Francesco said. “Since then we’ve managed to contain our opponents and I hope it’s the same tomorrow. The passion of our fans should give us an extra push.”
Liverpool’s former Roma forward Mohamed Salah scored twice in the first leg and created two other goals as he ripped apart Di Francesco’s defence.
“Mohamed Salah has outstanding quality when they go long - but we can’t put three men on Salah. We’ve got to have the strength to put the right importance on our opponents, but also think of ourselves,” Di Francesco said, adding that his team needed a similar display from striker Edin Dzeko.
“The players have got to take responsibility - Dzeko even more so as one of the key players in this team. I hope he will be the man who - even more than Salah in the first leg - makes a difference in this game,” the Italian coach said.
“Our ambition should be to get to Kiev (for the final). I’ll try and treat this game like any other. I’ve passed on my ideas to the team and will convince them that this is achievable,” Di Francesco added.
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan said the late goals the Serie A side scored at Anfield gave them hope.
“We managed to get two goals at the end which give us this hope of going through.
“We can’t make the same mistakes as the first leg and I think every one of us is aware of what we did there, and that we can’t repeat it here,” Nainggolan said. “In games like these, they can hurt you in a flash - we’ve got to focus for 90 minutes and try to overturn the tie."
“We know it will be difficult but it was difficult against Barcelona and we did it.”