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Observations from Liverpool's 4-2 escapade against Roma

Jurgen Klopp's men booked a place in the Champions League final, 11 years since they last managed to achieve a similar feat. Standing against them in the semi-finals were AS Roma, who were themselves aiming to knit their own piece of fairy tale. In the end, the Reds managed to edge their Italian rivals 7-6 on aggregate to set up an emphatic finale against Real Madrid.

Stadio Olimpico was always going to be a tough place to visit for the Merseysiders and so it proved with the Romans dominant from the first whistle. Goals from Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum seemed to have killed off the tie before Eusebio Di Francesco's side mounted a second half assault which almost engulfed Liverpool's insurmountable lead. Here are some of the talking points from an enthralling second leg tie.

1. Liverpool's right half of defence might be their undoing

Not up to the mark, are we?
Not up to the mark, are we?

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold was playing for Liverpool reserves when Jurgen Klopp took charge at Anfield. Touted as the next Steven Gerrard, the youngster was thrust into the fray as Nathaniel Clyne picked up a long-term injury. The debacle against Manchester United highlighted his shortcomings as calls to drop him grew louder. But the teenager bounced back with a mature showing against the blue half of Manchester, being named as Man of the Match as Liverpool stormed to the semi-finals.

Against Roma he was nowhere near his best. Directly at fault for Dzeko's equaliser, Alexander Arnold seemingly struggles against inverted wingers. Marcus Rashford, Wilfried Zaha and now El Sharaawy, it is increasingly clear that the right-back might have a torrid time against Cristiano Ronaldo, who is perhaps the best inverted winger of modern times.

Dejan Lovren

It is incomprehensible as to how Dejan Lovren has managed to fork out a first team position in this Liverpool side. A disaster waiting to happen, it seems Lovren is his own worst enemy with a defensive lapse just around the corner. With the Reds leading 0-1 at Stadio Olimpico, the Croatian somehow managed to combine with James Milner to score an own goal. At Anfield his clearance was weak which resulted in the penalty and he was dominated by Edin Dzeko throughout the 90 minutes.

On May 26, it will be interesting to see which Lovren turns up, the one we saw against Manchester City or the one against Roma.

2. Is Mohammed Salah 100% fit?

Doesn't look good, what do you think?
Doesn't look good, what do you think?

The Egyptian has gone two full games without scoring, a drought considering his unrealistically high standards. Unreasonable facts aside, Salah has not looked his mobile self we saw against Roma at Anfield. Against Stoke at home, he limped off the pitch at full time and was not quite the Magical Mo we have been accustomed to in Italy.

If he is carrying a knock it comes at the worst possible time for Jurgen Klopp with the crucial Chelsea encounter just around the corner. In simple terms, Liverpool are not yet guaranteed a spot in the top-4 and an injury to his wide man could spell a torrid month of May for the German. With Salah himself chasing the golden boot, how far will he stretch himself for the cause? Especially considering that an entire nation is counting on him to deliver at the World Cup.

3. Andy Robertson is Liverpool's bargain of the season, not Mo Salah

The Scotsman has been imperious off-late
The Scotsman has been imperious off-late

When Liverpool shelled out £8 million for the former Hull City left-back, many LFC fans including this writer were skeptical of his move. An average full-back playing for a relegated side? surely LFC scouts could have done a better job right? Oh how wrong we were. Robertson has been enormous since joining the Reds. Against Roma he was everywhere of the left hand side, dragging the likes of Florenzi as he time and again bombarded forward.

On one occasion, he skinned Florenzi on his own, bursting into the box only for Alisson to make a terrific save. The number 26 is not the most skillful footballer you will ever witness but he sure does pack a punch with his work-rate. If any budding footballers out there need a lesson in commitment to the team's cause, be sure to see his pressing run against Manchester City.

4. Liverpool are extremely vulnerable at the death

Hey, the clock shows 80'. Time to stop defending
Hey, the clock shows 80'. Time to stop defending

Liverpool were 5-0 up until the 80th minute at Anfield and managed to drag back the aggregate scoreline to 7-6 in the next 100 minutes of football. The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk has strengthened the Reds' ailing back-line but their inability to close off games is becoming habitual. They allowed Roma to nail two goals at home and once again allowed them back into the game in the second leg after sitting pretty with the scoreline 1-2 until the clock hit the 80' minute mark.

On the evidence of their performance in the semi-finals and against West Brom, their shutting out of Manchester City across the two legs appears to be a fluke. But there seems to be more to it than a simple matter of defensive lapses. Jurgen Klopp's men flew out of the blocks blitzing their opponents in the first half, scoring twice against Roma and thrice against City but as their energy wavered, their midfield was rendered porous. Kiev could turn out to be game of two very different halves.

5. The back three does not work, Liverpool need a defensive tactician

Putting more center-backs on the pitch is not the solution
Putting more center-backs on the pitch is not the solution

It has been a regular phenomenon under Jurgen Klopp this season. His penchant to introduce Ragnar Klavan in order to close games should theoretically be a No-brainer apart from the undeniable fact that it rarely produces the desired effect. Liverpool look utterly dismantled in the back-three system with neither of the three center-halves emerging with any credit.

It's the midfield that requires fresh legs to prevent getting overrun. Milner and Henderson are extremely capable of harrying opponents in the center of the park but neither of the two is defensively adept at shutting up shop. A defensive midfielder should be priority for Klopp in the summer but would he compromise his team's attacking potency? Everton, West Brom and now Roma, the back three is certainly not the solution.

This article was originally published on @laatonwalabhoot