A tactical calamity contributed heavily to Roma’s poor display at Anfield in the Champions League semi-final first leg.
Playing three at the back and holding a very high line has served Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco well this season. His side have conceded just 27 goals in Serie A, and have kept clean sheets in all six home games in the Champions League this season.
This approach did not mesh well with the quick attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane however, as Liverpool took a five goal lead in the home tie on Tuesday night.
Salah in particular was often left in possession with yards of space in which to weave his magic – namely two goals and two assists.
Dreadful defensive performances from the likes of Juan Jesus and Federico Fazio didn’t help matters, but speaking on BT Sport, ex-Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand had Di Francesco in his firing line, questioning whether the Italian had even watched Liverpool in action this season.
“I think the Roma manager has to take full responsibility for the result tonight,” he said on BT Sport.
“It’s not often you sit here and say a manager is at fault completely for a team’s performance. I think today he let his players down, the way he set them up. He set them up almost certainly to lose this game, the way they played – a high line at the back against a team that play quick football.
“I question whether he’s even seen Liverpool play this season, the way he set them up.”
— eir Sport (@eirSport) April 24, 2018
Bad tactics can’t fully account for Mohamed Salah’s brilliance though, as Ferdinand acknowledged.
“We’ve run out of words to describe how this guy’s playing this season. Defenders just aren’t able to cope with him.”