Barcelona vs Liverpool Preview
Tournament favorites Barcelona will look to get a sizeable lead when they host Liverpool in the first leg of UEFA Champions League semifinals at Nou Camp on Wednesday.
Ernesto Valverde’s side wrapped up another La Liga over the weekend with a 1-0 win over Levante at home. The Blaugrana can now entirely focus on Europe’s premier prize, having failed to make the final four of the competition since winning it in 2015.Embed from Getty Images
They topped their group consisting of Tottenham, Inter Milan, and PSV Eindhoven and drew Lyon in the Round of 16. After a 0-0 draw away, the Catalan club ran riot at Camp Nou, winning 5-1. This resulted in a quarterfinal clash with Manchester United, which ended in a 4-0 aggregate win.
Now, they are going to face their toughest opponents in the tournament in terms of form, quality, and style of play.
Liverpool have reached back-to-back semifinals, with last year’s run going all the way into the final. They lost that match to Real Madrid but are looking to correct that this time around.
Jurgen Klopp’s men required a win in the last group game against Napoli to qualify for the knockouts. After conquering Bayern Munich in the round of 16 with a 3-1 aggregate, the Reds drew Porto in the quarters.Embed from Getty Images
The Portuguese club were brushed aside with a 6-1 aggregate, setting up a mouth-watering clash with Barcelona in the final four. Both sides will be itching to win the tie as the final would be against Tottenham or Ajax, giving an excellent chance for either side to add a sixth European crown.
Barcelona do not have any fresh injuries as the team picks itself. The only decision for Valverde will be to choose between Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele to partner Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in the attack.
Klopp has a few injury concerns heading into the match. Roberto Firmino missed out the Friday night 5-0 win over Huddersfield with a muscle problem. Fabinho missed the game as well after picking up a head injury against Cardiff in the previous match. Both of them along with Adam Lallana will be subjected to late fitness tests, and the Reds will hope the trio make it.
Barcelona vs Liverpool Prediction
Both the teams are in fantastic unbeaten runs with Barcelona yet to lose in their last 22 games while Liverpool are however to taste defeat in their previous 19 games. The Reds are in slightly better form, winning each of their last ten games in all competitions.
The Blaugrana are pretty strong at home, winning each of their last eight home games. Valverde’s side have lost only one game in the UCL since the beginning of last season. Thus, the Catalan side will be looking to force the issue in the first leg itself.
The Reds defense is easily the best in Europe this season, and if there is any team that can hold Messi, it has to be Liverpool’s. Further, the Merseyside club are unbeaten in their last nine away games across all competitions, including winning the last five on the trot.
Barcelona have faced English clubs 21 times at Camp Nou and have lost just twice, with both the defeats coming against Liverpool. Thus, the Reds will believe in themselves to get a result and give themselves maximum opportunity to progress to the final next week at Anfield.
Either way, it is set to be a game of fine margins with Barcelona potentially edging the first leg due to home advantage.
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Barcelona Predicted XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Coutinho, Suarez
Liverpool Predicted XI: Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Firmino
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