Liverpool goal threat will see off Roma and can beat Bayern or Madrid
LIVERPOOL, England -- Nobody knows better than Liverpool that a three-goal lead is not always a guarantee of success in the Champions League.
They will never forget the "Miracle of Istanbul" at Anfield -- that night in May 2005 when Rafael Benitez's team overturned a 3-0 half-time deficit against AC Milan to win the club's fifth European Cup on penalties -- but there have been more recent reminders that such an advantage is not enough to be certain at the highest level of European competition.
Back in November, Jurgen Klopp's team surrendered a 3-0 lead against Sevilla in Spain to emerge with a draw in Group E and there was, of course, Roma's remarkable 3-0 victory against Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico earlier this month, which saw the Italians eliminate the Liga leaders, despite suffering a 4-1 first-leg defeat at the Nou Camp.
So Klopp's men will certainly not travel to the Italian capital next week with any thoughts of their job being done as they attempt to defend a 5-2 lead in order to book a place in the Champions League final, on May 26 in Kiev.
"There would have been work for us to do when we win 5-0 because Roma would have tried everything to strike back anyway, so that's not a big difference," said Klopp. "What I learn tonight is that we can win the second game as well, even when it will be different. Roma needs to score goals against us."
Liverpool have seen both sides of the coin when it comes to a three-goal lead, while Roma will go into pitch next Wednesday believing they can repeat the heroics of their Barca fightback. The Stadio Olimpico will be infused with belief and hope after seeing Lionel Messi and co. dumped out in sensational fashion.
But while Liverpool only have themselves to blame for allowing a five-goal lead to be cut to three as a result of Edin Dzeko's late strike and Diego Perotti's penalty -- Klopp said "the Liverpool way is always a little bit harder" -- they can take comfort in the fact that they have more goals in them than any other team in Europe.
That firepower should be enough to get them through next week's test and will also give them confidence that they can defeat either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in Ukraine to take the European Cup to Anfield for a sixth time.
Barcelona failed to score in Rome earlier this month and that was their downfall, but Liverpool have 38 goals in this season's Champions League group stage and knockout rounds -- 11 more than second-highest scorers Paris Saint-Germain -- and have hit the back of the net in every one of their away games, dating back to an August playoff win at Hoffenheim.
KIopp's men may have faced some of the weaker teams in this season's Champions League but they hit seven away to Maribor and netted five against Porto in Estadio do Dragao during the Round of 16, not to mention the three they scored in that crazy draw in Seville.
Real Madrid, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring even more regularly in this competition than Mo Salah, who managed two against his former club on Tuesday, have only managed 26 goals so far this season, while Bayern, their opponents in the other semifinal have scored 23.
Ronaldo, who is the competition's leading scorer this term with 15, will always pose a unique threat for Real, while Bayern will expect Robert Lewandowski to deliver, despite the fact he has just five European goals in 2017-18.
Liverpool have been ruthless and their cutting edge has been sharpened as a result. It is why they travelled to Manchester City earlier this month confident of adding to their 3-0 first-leg victory. They did so, winning 2-1 the Etihad Stadium against the Premier League champions, with goals from Salah and Firmino.
Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane have hit 23 goals between them in the Champions League this season and Roma must find a way to stop them adding to their combined total to have any hope of another shock next week. If they do not, the mountain facing Eusebio di Francesco's players becomes even more imposing
At the other end, Liverpool have conceded nine goals in 11 games, but the £75 million addition of Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the defence has contributed to tightening up at the back, which has seen Liverpool concede just three times in five knockout-round games.
Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain's injury could be serious and will further stretch a squad without Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Joel Matip but, if Liverpool advance to face either Bayern or Real, they will go into the final knowing that they have the forwards and attacking game to win.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_