Jürgen Klopp wants AS Roma to feel warmth and hospitality from Liverpool for the duration of their visit to Merseyside – but not for 90 minutes on Tuesday night.
A long-standing friendly rivalry will be reacquainted this evening when the sides contest the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.
Klopp is well aware of the history between the clubs and the special relationship that exists – and he’s keen for that to be embraced once again over the course of the last-four encounter, apart from on the pitch.
The manager wrote in his column for ‘This is Anfield’: “I would like to start these notes by offering a warm welcome to my counterpart Eusebio Di Francesco, his players, staff, the officials and supporters of this great Italian side to Liverpool.
“Rome is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest cities and I cannot wait for our club to visit next week. I know AS Roma have been to Liverpool in the not-too-distant past, but this is a city that keeps growing and improving and I hope our visitors take some time to experience the unique warmth and hospitality that it offers.
“All true Liverpool supporters will want our guests to enjoy every single aspect of coming here except one – the match itself, the 90 minutes. As someone who has come here myself as a guest, I can tell our Italian friends this is one of the most welcoming places you could ever wish to come to, and I trust we can all embrace this feeling of friendship and make sure both matches are remembered for all the right reasons.
“Let’s embrace the joy and passion that comes with European football. Let’s embrace welcoming visitors and different cultures, which are the best values of Europe. Let’s embrace showing each other the very best qualities about our respective homes.
“Eusebio Di Francesco and his Roma team are people we have nothing but total respect for. He is a cool guy, a very talented leader and his players clearly believe in everything he is encouraging them to do. They arrive in a very good moment having won 3-0 away from home at the weekend, so their confidence is rightly high. They have the perfect blend of experience and youthful zest in their team and squad. They are the most dangerous opponent and we will have to be ready to play at our maximum for 180 minutes, minimum, if we are to even contemplate the possibility of getting through.
“I don’t think any of us need reminding of how Roma reached the semi-finals. I have been fortunate to be involved in some great European football comebacks – and Liverpool of course is a club renowned for it. However, the Roma result against Barcelona must be towards the top of any list that is drawn up on this topic. It tells me that whatever happens tonight, this semi-final will be alive and contested to the last second and kick of the game at the Stadio Olimpico. AS Roma are smart enough to know the same applies to us.
“Both sides and both clubs embody the spirit that it is never over until it is over, and that will make this intense and special I am sure. In terms of ourselves, I know the players are fully aware of the levels they’ll need to perform at.
“One of the many things I love about this team is that they manage to find that balance of respect for the opposition, without letting it diminish our own attributes. We make it about us and what we can do – but not in an arrogant way. This was very evident against Manchester City over the two legs, but also in the previous rounds.
“To be successful in a competition like this one, where every team has world-class players and is organised to the highest level, you have to always have the right mentality. You have to respect but never fear. You need confidence but never complacency. You need courage but not recklessness: be brave but not foolish. So far, with all these equations, we have found the right formula – but so have Roma until now.
“If I have one wish for these semi-final games it’s that we embrace the moment and take all the positivity from it we can, as a club, not just the first team. This campaign is about hope and not anxiety and that must remain the feeling if we are to keep progressing.”
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