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24th Apr 2018

Francesco Totti: It surprises me that Salah has been doing so well

The pair played together for two seasons at Roma

Reuben Pinder

Totti is a symbol of AS Roma, who visit Anfield tonight

Roma visit Anfield tonight for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool, in what is set to be an intense battle. The last time Roma reached the semi-finals was back in 1983-84, while Liverpool have not made the last four for 10 years. Neither side expected to get this far, and everything is to play for.

Roma legend Francesco Totti retired at the end of last season after a 25 year career at Roma, during which he played 786 games, scoring 307 goals. But Totti is still very much involved with the club – he joined the squad for their dressing room celebrations after they knocked out Barcelona in the quarter-finals this season.

He will be rooting for Roma in tonight’s match with the same passion that he played with, but still has a lot of praise for Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side, who have blown teams away this season with their intense counter-attacking football.

Totti spoke to about the semi-final tie, and was keen to highlight Klopp’s work with Mo Salaah in particular.

“This season I’ve seen a number of games of Liverpool, especially because Mo Salah is now playing there, I’ve been following it consistently,” Totti said.

“Especially after the draw, over the past few days I’ve been watching their Champions League games and I really think it’s going to be a tough game for both teams.

“To some extent, it surprises me that [Salah] has been doing so well in his first season at Liverpool,” he added.

“But, on the other hand, considering the quality of the squad, the coach they have – Klopp, to me, is one of the best coaches in the world – it didn’t surprise me.

“They put him in the condition to express himself at his best.”

The World Cup winner played alongside Salah for two seasons, but the Egyptian forward was never as clinical in front of goal as he has been this season.

Totti was not hesitant to emphasis just how big a club Liverpool are either. When I hear the name Liverpool, [I think] respect, a big club, a big team, big fans, and a model to follow,” he said.

The two sides are both steeped in history, and with a place in the final stake, the atmosphere at Anfield should be electric tonight. Expect to see the Roma faithful create a similarly lively atmosphere at the Olympico in the return leg, too.