Mohamed Salah is set to play two matches against his former club in the Champions League for Liverpool and Roma appear to be targeting the forward.
It’s not unusual for a star player to come in for some special treatment from opposing defenders and Salah could be on the receiving end against Roma, despite many of their team being colleagues of the Egyptian during his spell in Italy.
Roma Target Salah
It remains to be seen if Salah will be man-marked throughout the two legs but Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, was keen to highlight what could be in store for the Premier League’s top goal scorer in the Champions League semi-final.
Speaking ahead of the first leg at Anfield, Klopp said, “I’m sure Italian teams are famous for not having any friendly games. Mo will feel pretty early on that they are not his friends any more – but he will be able to strike back with his football.”
Italian Style Defending
Italian teams are renowned for their tough approach to defending and much of their work focuses on upsetting the opposing attackers using their physical strength. Shirt pulling and other dirty tactics are often employed and expect to see plenty of blocking at set-piece situations.
Teams often look to get in a hard tackle early on a key player in the opposing starting XI, so don’t be surprised to see someone from the Roma midfield or defence go in hard on Salah during the opening stages of the match. The Roma players would probably accept a yellow card if it means they can slow down Salah and reduce his potential impact on the game.
Federico Fazio and Kostas Manolas are expected to line-up at the heart of the Roma defence across both legs of this exciting Champions League semi-final tie and while they will have their hands full with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, Salah will be their priority.
Roma Defenders Know Salah’s Game
Each of them will have an understanding on how Salah likes to play but his game has developed so dramatically over the past 6 months, the Roma duo could be in for a surprise. There is no doubt Salah is a much-improved player having joined Liverpool but Roma’s defenders will point to their sensational efforts in dealing with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in their second leg win over Barcelona.
Salah will also face a threat from Roma’s midfield and Kevin Strootman and Daniele De Rossi will be taking no prisoners in the centre of the pitch. If Salah was to drift inside, he can expect a rough reception from the tough-tackling Roma midfielders and will need to watch his step.
However, according to Rogue IMC, Salah has proven time and time again this season he can deal with the pressure of big games and plenty of attention from defenders. This will be just one more match in which Salah will believe he can score the goals to win his team the game.