An air of trepidation laced the anticipation among Liverpool supporters as the latest raft of arrivals touched down in Rome on Tuesday lunchtime.
The travelling Kop has been making its way to the Italian capital since the start of the week ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Roma.
But what should be a celebration of the club’s biggest game in a decade has instead become a trip laced with potential danger, particularly after two Italians were arrested following an attack on Liverpool fan Sean Cox outside Anfield before last week’s first leg.
Rome the city, as much as any of the individuals involved on the pitch and the dugout, is under scrutiny.
“The world is watching,” admits Roma legend Francesco Totti. “We are Rome’s ambassadors and we carry a great responsibility, inside and outside Stadio Olimpico.
“In every part of Rome, we must demonstrate the values that we all stand for: fair play, hospitality and respect for our opponents.”
Safety is the watchword to Reds fans heading out to Italy. Indeed, it was tempting during the security check at Manchester Airport to inform one fan, wearing a Liverpool shirt with ‘Firmino’ emblazoned on the back, that a change of clothing might be wise.
Ultimately, though, Liverpool fans, as always, will make their voices heard, with the club hopeful they will head for Campo de’Fiori or Largo Corrado Ricci, two designated ‘safe’ areas for travelling supporters.
How safe will depend on how much trust can be placed in the local police.
Comments at the weekend didn’t augur well, the Union of Italian State Police sparking outrage by claiming Liverpool fans are set to join forces with Lazio supporters to cause trouble.
Andrea Cecchini, spokesman for Italia Celere, said: “We have certainty of the arrival of at least 1,000 English ultras.”