Liverpool face one of their most exciting European assignments in years on Wednesday, travelling to Barcelona for Champions League semi-final first leg.
Barcelona vs. Liverpool
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 – 8pm (BST)
Champions League Semi-Final, First Leg
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
It’s now 10 wins in a row for this fantastic Reds side, who continue to refuse to let Man City out of their sights.
While City’s own brilliance is becoming rather painful, what this Liverpool team is achieving should not be downplayed.
The seemingly endless focus on the Premier League title race makes way for a potential European classic this week, with Barcelona standing between Jurgen Klopp‘s side and a place in back-to-back Champions League finals.
Liverpool will still be hurting after last season’s defeat to Real Madrid and many are tipping them to go all the way next month.
They will have to overcome the latest imposing Barcelona outfit, however – one who clinched a fourth Liga title in five years at the weekend.
Led by the incomparable Lionel Messi, who is arguably enjoying the best form of his career, Ernesto Valverde’s men will pose a major threat to the Reds’ chances.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is one of the best goalkeepers in world football; Gerard Pique remains a colossus at the back; Jordi Alba’s driving runs are a constant weapon and Sergio Busquets’ understated artistry is still vital.
Then there’s the small matter of former Liverpool favourites Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, both of whom are capable of winning matches single-handedly.
While Barca’s class is undeniable, they will be also fearful of what Klopp’s men could do to them, with few teams in Europe more devastating going forward these days, as well as so assured at the back.
The tie could be decided by the finest of margins, and if Liverpool can get a positive result on Wednesday, or at least not lose convincingly, they will believe the Anfield atmosphere can drag them over the finish line.
Roberto Firmino has been Klopp’s only real injury concern ahead of the game, but the Brazilian is available after overcoming a muscle issue.
His influence leading the line is going to be so vital to Liverpool’s chances, making his recovery a huge positive.
Fabinho is also back after missing the 5-0 win over Huddersfield with a head injury suffered at Cardiff the previous weekend.
In theory, as many as eight players pick themselves for the Reds, starting with Alisson in goal, who could face one of his busiest nights of the season.
It is in midfield where Klopp has his only real selection headache.
James Milner is also someone Klopp will often turn to in the biggest matches, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he started, either.
Barcelona have no new injury problems, meaning their starting lineup could be: Ter Stegen, Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Arthur, Coutinho, Messi, Suarez.
Ousmane Dembele is the other candidate to start, in place of Coutinho.
Last 5 Meetings with Barcelona (All Competitions)
Lost 1-0 (h) – March 2007 (Gudjohnsen)
Won 2-1 (a) – February 2007 (Deco; Bellamy, Riise)
Drew 0-0 (a) – March 2002
Lost 3-1 (h) – November 2001 (Owen; Kluivert, Rochemback, Overmars)
Won 1-0 (h) – April 2001 (McAllister pen)
Address: C. d’Arístides Maillol, 12, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Did You Know?
Since Klopp became Liverpool manager, he has not lost a single two-legged European tie – a total of nine unbeaten.
This time around, Bayern Munich and Porto have felt the wrath of Klopp’s superb side and the manager will be hoping he can make it a perfect 10 unbeaten against Barca.
Three finals may have been lost during that period, but it is still a magnificent record.
Barcelona – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 1-0 vs. Levante
Won 2-0 vs. Alaves
Won 2-1 vs. Real Sociedad
Won 3-0 vs. Man United
Drew 0-0 vs. Huesca
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 5-0 vs. Huddersfield
Won 2-0 vs. Cardiff
Won 4-1 vs. Porto
Won 2-0 vs. Chelsea
Won 2-0 vs. Porto
Live Blog & TV Info
Barcelona vs. Liverpool is live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm (BST), with kickoff at 8pm.
Ben Twelves is in charge of This is Anfield’s matchday live blog from 7.15pm, on what promises to be a special night in Catalonia.