Manuel Veth –
Barcelona vs Liverpool – Wednesday, May 1, 20:00BST/21:00CEST – Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
It is a duel of giants, perhaps the precursor to the final with many experts predicting that whoever emerges from this semifinal victorious will also win the final in Madrid on June 1. Both Barcelona and Liverpool have five European Cups to their name and are bidding to take a significant step towards a sixth as they meet for the first time in more than a decade – the teams’ third semi-final contest in UEFA club competition.
In other words, the two clubs are giants in the competition. But there is also more to this duel than just history. In Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho Barcelona have one of the most potent attacking trios in world football. Two out of the three also have a Liverpool past. Both Coutinho and Suarez have played for the Reds.
For Barcelona, the attacking trio spurns memories of the last time the club won the UEFA Champions League. Back in 2015 Barça were guided by the attacking trio of Neymar, Messi and Suarez. Coutinho, signed from Liverpool in January 2018, has somewhat struggled to replace Neymar, who left the club in the summer of 2017 for Paris Saint-Germain.
Furthermore, Ousmane Dembélé, signed in a record deal from Borussia Dortmund, is an additional option in this semifinal tie. The French forward, however, is still struggling with an injury and will likely miss the first leg.
“We can beat them because Barcelona doesn’t play against teams like ours very often,” Liverpool’s James Milner said this week.
Furthermore, Liverpool are banking on their very own attacking trio in Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. In fact, an argument could be made that the Reds have more than compensate for Coutinho’s departure and that the three up front are the most dangerous trio on the continent. Whether that is the case will be tested on Wednesday against Barcelona.
The only question mark is behind Roberto Firmino’s start on Wednesday. “He has a small tear in a small muscle,” manager Jürgen Klopp explained on Wednesday. “But we are talking about Bobby here. It could be that he is fit against Barcelona,” Klopp added.
Losing Firmino would be a major blow for Liverpool. After all, this will be a finely balanced tie in which every detail can make the difference over the full 180 minutes (plus potential extra-time). No matter what, however, Barcelona will be slight favourites at home, but it is unlikely that the tie will be decided in the first leg.
Barcelona vs Liverpool – Players to look out for:
Lionel Messi #10 – Barcelona
Lionel Messi will be essential for Barcelona’s success. For Liverpool, in turn, it will be essential to shut down the Argentine forward, who has scored 46 goals and 22 assists in 45 games this season. In the Champions League Messi has scored a goal every 66 minutes this season and while he centres an overall impressive attacking line the outcome of this tie will depend on his form and whether the Reds can handle the forward.
Mohamed Salah #11 – Liverpool
What Messi is for Barcelona Salah is for Liverpool. Even if some argue that the Egyptian has struggled to replicate his numbers from last season. But one has to take into account that Salah played his first ever World Cup last summer and that he also suffered a significant injury in the Champions League final against Real Madrid a year ago. Despite all that Salah still had an impressive season scoring 25 goals and 13 assists in 48 games in all competition.
Barcelona vs Liverpool – Match Stats
- This is the teams’ ninth fixture, six of the previous eight having come in six years between 2001 and 2007. There has been little between the sides with three Liverpool wins and two for Barcelona, each team scoring six goals – although the English club have won all three two-legged contests on aggregate.
- Three of Barcelona’s eight semi-final defeats have therefore come against English opponents, with only one victory.
- This is Barcelona’s 12th UEFA Champions League semi-final – fewer only than Real Madrid (13).
- Barcelona have won 15 of their 25 two-legged ties with English clubs, including the last five. The 2012 semi-final defeat by Chelsea is the only reverse in their last nine contests, all in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Barcelona vs Liverpool – 2-1
Barcelona vs Liverpool – Lineups
ter Stegen – Jordi Alba, Lenglet, Piqué, Sergi Roberto – Arthur, Busquets, Rakitić – Coutinho, Suarez, Messi
Head Coach: Ernesto Valverde
Alisson – Robertson, van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold – Keïta, Wijnaldum, Henderson – Mané, Roberto Firmino, Salah
Head Coach: Jürgen Klopp
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.