Champions League final, Saturday 26 May
The good news?Andriy Shevchenko and Wladimir Klitschko are both in the house in Nyon, with theChampions Leaguesemi-final draw almost upon us. With the Europa League draw out of the way, all eyes move to this, where Liverpool, Roma, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid all await their fate.
TheLiverpooldefender, Andy Robertson,has had his two-pennies worth about who wants who. I dont think we have a preference, he trilled. This club has been here before and they know how hard it is regardless of who you are playing to get to the final and try to win this trophy. We know how hard its going to be and we need to try and work so hard to get to the final because we need to deserve it. As for Trent Alexander-Arnold, the 19-year-old reckons him and his team-mates are fearless:
An email, a question for you to ponder while Andriy Shevchenko rocks up on stage in Nyon to get the draw,and party, started. Given Arsenal were given the toughest possible draw in the semis, says Simon. Id like to ask The Guardian readership, is it better to face a top side over two legs or in a one off in the final? Id go one off in the final.
The road to Kiev has narrowed, with just four teams remaining in the semi-finals. Liverpool, Roma, Real Madrid andBayern Munichawait their fate in Nyon, with the draw set to get under way around 12pm. We will get started shortly. In the meantime, whet your appetite for what lies ahead:
The other tie?Bayern Munichand Real Madrid renew their European rivalry, with what surely guarantees us another 180 minutes of brilliant football. And a brief footnote that the winner of Bayern/Real Madrid will, technically, be the nominal home team v Liverpool/Roma in Kiev for the final in May.
Winner of Bayern/Real Madrid v Liverpool/Roma
Jupp Heynckes is a mightily good bloke.The Bayern Munich manager, who can still win the treble this year, has been having his say on he fancies being cobbled together with shortly. My players have big ambitions to win theChampions League, the 72-year-old says. No coach ever has a preference [for the draw]. Look at what happened to Barcelona. The games will be tight.
More on that news a moment ago that Niko Kovac will succeed 72-year-old Heynckes:
While were waiting to get under way were expecting kick-off in less than 20 minutes soak back into your armchair, and lap up this European treat:
Will it be European title No 13 for Real Madrid, No 6 for Liverpool or Bayern or No 1 for Roma? Photograph: Jean-Christophe Bott/EPA
First legs, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 April
Here we go …with Shevchenkos wise words that anything can happen the last soundbite before he plunges into the hats.
So, Liverpool face Roma in the last four.Thats probably the best draw they could have hoped for, really. Could not have been better for LFC, is the verdict from Dean Kinsella, via email. They will play the first leg at Anfield before a date in Rome, at the mammoth Stadio Olimpico. A Roma reunion for Mo Salah, too.
Champions League draw: Liverpool to face Roma in semi-finals
Second legs, Tuesday 1 May and Wednesday 2 May
Liverpool have been handed a semi-final against Roma, while Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich face Real Madrid in the last four
This is Real Madrids eighth successiveChampions Leaguesemi-final. Not bad, eh?They squeezed through this time, at least. As for Liverpool, the last time they reached this stage was in 2008, when they lost to Chelsea over two legs. As for Roma, they have not been this far since 1984, when, believe it or not, Dundee United were the opposition. Bayern, meanwhile, have plenty of pedigree when it comes to breezing into the last four but not last year, when Real beat them in the quarter-finals.
The Bundesliga champions will face Real, and will play the first leg at the Allianz Arena. Thats going to be some match-up. Thats a repeat of last seasons quarter-final.
A trip to Rome forLiverpool, and the Serie A side will visit Anfield. Jrgen Klopps men will also play the first of two legs at home.
The mayor of Kiev, the one and only Vitali Klitschko thats right is out on the stage to give a whimsical presentation about how the Ukrainian capital has transformed into a sporting hub, for this year at least. Hes wearing glasses, and looks a changed man himself from the one weve seen in the ring. Kiev is a beautiful city, especially in spring, especially beautiful in May, he muses. Welcome. Superb.
Liverpool will need to overcome Serie A side Roma over two legs if they are to prevail to theChampions Leaguefinal in Kiev at the end of May. Jrgen Klopps side will play the first leg at Anfield, before making the trip to Stadio Olimpico at the start of next month. For Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool forward, it will be a return to Rome, where he scored 29 goals in 65 league appearances before moving on last summer. In the other tie, Real Madrid will take on Bayern Munich, who they knocked out of the quarter-finals last season. The first leg will take place at the Allianz Arena, with the second at the Bernabu. Bayern, who, on Friday confirmed Niko Kovac will succeed manager Jupp Heynckes in the dugout in July, are targeting another treble under the 72-year-old. The German club have also confirmed Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are in talks over extending their contracts with the club until the summer of 2019.
Here we go … kick-off is upon us in Nyon, Switzerland.Just the formalities, pleasantries and a flurry of quarter-final montages to get through. While we wait, a reminder that the final takes place in Kiev, on Saturday 26 May at the Olimpiyskyi Stadium.
Paolo Bandini: Roma a force to be reckoned with under Di Francesco
Another thing that you ought to be doing in the meantime is signing up to The Fiver.If you havent already, you are missing out on your tea-timely football fix:
Fri 13 Apr 201812.36 BSTFirst published on Fri 13 Apr 201811.30 BST
Some breaking news coming out of one our semi-finalists:Bayern Munichhave announced that Niko Kovac will take over as the clubs new manager from 1 July, after agreeing a three-year contract on Thursday. So, there we go. Heynckes will depart, as originally planned, perhaps off the back of a treble and Kovac will enter. The 46-year-old, a former midfielder at Bayern, is currently in charge at Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, that being his first job in club management.
With six minutes to go until the get-go in Nyon,some people are just tempting fate. It feels like Ive playedReal Madridthousands of times in my career, so if its them its fine, Mats Hummels, the Bayern defender muses. That said, the other opponents would be more interesting: Ive only played Liverpool once, and never against Roma.