Nainggolan: ‘Liverpool-Roma warriors’

Radja Nainggolan pledged to get a Champions League tattoo, admits even he didn’t believe Roma would beat Barcelona and Liverpool are “warriors, a bit like us.”

The first leg of the Champions League semi-final is at Anfield on Tuesday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT).

They earned their place in the top four European clubs after overturning a 4-1 deficit with Barcelona, winning 3-0 at the Olimpico.

Radja Nainggolan pledged to get a Champions League tattoo, admits even he didn’t believe Roma would beat Barcelona and Liverpool are “warriors, a bit like us.”

The first leg of the Champions League semi-final is at Anfield on Tuesday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT).

They earned their place in the top four European clubs after overturning a 4-1 deficit with Barcelona, winning 3-0 at the Olimpico.

“The day after we beat Barcelona, I still could scarcely believe it. Roma were in the Champions League semi-final,” grinned Nainggolan to Belgian baber Het Laaste Nieuws.

“It had seemed an impossible dream, but what we did was unique and nobody believed it was possible. When we were 2-0 up, that’s when I really started to believe in qualification. I could tell we were hungrier, we kept running and pressing them.”

Eusebio Di Francesco surprised everyone that day with a three-man defence and it proved a masterstroke.

“We were in better shape than Barca, both physically and tactically, as the Coach chose the perfect system. We really wanted to reach the semi-finals, whereas Barcelona felt comfortable after winning the first leg 4-1. You can’t relax in football.

“It was something we won’t see again in a hurry. In truth, our entire Champions League campaign has been incredible. In the group phase, we finished ahead of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, which everyone was surprised at. We eliminated Barcelona and people don’t even mention we should’ve had two penalties at Camp Nou.”

While Real Madrid take on Bayern Munich, Roma are up against Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool.

“I wasn’t happy with the draw, because in my view Liverpool were the toughest team out of the three. It’s not that they have more quality than Real Madrid or Bayern, but they put a lot of hard work in and have nothing to lose. Real and Bayern might’ve underestimated Roma, but Liverpool are warriors, a bit like us.

“I spoke to Salah and he couldn’t believe we’d beaten Barcelona either! He was joking on Instagram that we’ll never hear the end of Kostas Manolas saying he scored the winning goal.

“It’ll be nice to see Momo again, we had a good rapport. He’s a good guy, sweet and respectful, as well as being an excellent player. I am not surprised by his success at Liverpool, as he always had the quality. The only difference now is perhaps he’s got more opportunities and also learned to keep a cool head in front of goal. I’m a fan of his.”

Nainggolan was asked if he’ll get a tattoo of the Champions League trophy.

“Yes, but only if we win!”

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