Alberto Aquilani has had little trouble deciding where his loyalties lie as his former employers Liverpool prepare for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final tie against Roma.
Aquilani has featured for both clubs during his career, signing for Liverpool from Roma in 2009 for around £17m. However, the midfielder, now at Las Palmas, has been clear in pledging his allegiances to the Italian giants ahead of the European showdown.
“Obviously, I’m supporting Roma,” Aquilani declared to Il Romanista, via Football Italia. “Although I knew the atmosphere at Anfield and how strong Jurgen Klopp’s side is, I didn’t expect Roma to concede five. Fortunately, they scored those two late on and that left a small window of hope.”
Aquilani remains optimistic that the Italian giants can overturn the first leg deficit.
He continued: “It’s difficult, but not impossible. Roma can count on one factor that could prove to be decisive and that’s the Stadio Olimpico.”
Roma pulled off a stunning 3-0 victory over Barcelona in the quarter-final, as Rome staged one of the Champions League’s all-time greatest comebacks, with the Italian side overturning a 4-1 first leg deficit against Ernesto Valverde’s team.
The same venue will play host to the semi-final second leg against Liverpool, in front of a crowd hoping to witness a similarly spectacular comeback, with the Roman natives hoping to see their side overcome a 5-2 first leg defeat.
“If Anfield is able to fire up Liverpool, I can guarantee the Roma fans can do the same here. They really can be the extra weapon,” he added
Roma’s hopes of success could also depend on their ability to perform similar defensive heroics to those which shackled Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in the previous round, this time against Mohamed Salah in particular.
The Egyptian has enjoyed greater success than Aquilani in making the same switch from Rome to Merseyside. Salah’s Italian predecessor struggled to make anything close to the impact of the wing wizard in his first season at Anfield.