Much has been made of Liverpool’s explosive front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Robert Firmino and rightly so, each of them scoring at least eight goals in this year’s elite competition (the first in UEFA Champions League history). However, there has been one man who has been pivotal to their success this year, ‘boring’ James Milner.
AS Roma domination
Milner notched up his ninth assist of the season in Liverpool’s 5-2 win over Eusebio Di Francesco’s team, a record in a single UEFA Champions League campaign, a feat previously held by Wayne Rooney and Neymar. Milner was a key figure in dictating an experienced midfield that consisted of Daniel De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan; bringing a much-needed solidity to an often-shaky Red’s defence and allowing their front three to have freedom in attack.
All roads lead to Rome
As Liverpool look to finish the job in Rome and continue their European conquest the big question is whether their questionable defence can withstand a determined AS Roma attack. Roma have previously shown strength at home this season as they dismantled Chelsea 3-0 in the group stages and pulled apart Barcelona in the quarterfinals. This is reinforced by the fact they haven’t conceded a single goal at home in the Champions League. With three Giallorossi players making up the top ten for most distance covered in this year’s competition and the inform Edin Dzeko bagging another two goals at the weekend, they certainly won’t be easily pushed aside.
James Milner will look to take the reigns and dominate that midfield battleground once more. Always willing to do the ugly work and run himself into the ground, he will be a key player in helping Liverpool withstand a motivated AS Roma team.
One thing that is certain – the Italians will come out fighting like gladiators in the colosseum labelled the Stadio Olimpico as they look to replicate their performance against Barcelona.