Liverpool fell to a hugely disappointing 3-0 defeat at the Nou Camp, leaving a huge task for the Champions League semi-final second leg at Anfield.
Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool
Champions League Semi-Final First Leg, Nou Camp
May 1, 2019
Goals: Suarez 26′, Messi 75′, 82′
Alisson – 6 (out of 10)
He might have expected to be peppered with more shots than he actually faced in the end, but the ones which counted he could do little about, in truth.
Conceded three goals without doing a whole lot wrong, and was on the wrong side of a piece of sheer genius for the third as Lionel Messi produced one of his finest free-kicks from distance, right in the top corner.
Joe Gomez – 5
Started for the first time in almost five months since breaking his leg against Burnley in early December, in place of Trent Alexander-Arnold to provide a more naturally defensive option at right-back.
Didn’t disgrace himself by any means, but looked a touch off the pace and got caught on his heels in the buildup to the opening goal by the long diagonal pass.
Not able to provide anywhere near the same attacking quality as Trent, as expected.
Joel Matip – 7 (Man of the Match)
A very busy evening for Matip, who found himself called into action on numerous occasions, and in general he responded well to the task at hand.
It would be harsh to criticise him for Barcelona’s three goals, as he made countless vital tackles and interceptions, and generally dealt well with Luis Suarez.
Positionally he was excellent, stepping out to win the ball aggressively on several occasions and drive forward into midfield.
Virgil Van Dijk – 6
The newly crowned PFA Player of the Year wasn’t quite at his usual imperious best here, particularly in the first half, where he was a little slow to react in a few moments.
A couple of lovely trademark cross-field passes, and again he wasn’t individually at fault for any of the goals, and made a key interception in the box from Arturo Vidal in the second half with Suarez lurking.
It’s not often you concede three and none of your main defenders have a particularly poor game, but Van Dijk will be disappointed with his performance nonetheless, such are the standards he sets for himself.
Andy Robertson – 7
One of Liverpool’s most effective attacking threats linking up superbly with Sadio Mane down the left in the first half, Robertson’s pace and direct running caused Barcelona problems at times.
Made a crucial, perfectly timed challenge to thwart Messi in the box in the first half and another on Suarez while chasing back on the counter-attack in stoppage time at the end, to prevent Barcelona getting a fourth which would have completely ended the tie.
One of Liverpool’s better performers on a really frustrating night.
Fabinho – 6
This was a really difficult evening for the Brazilian who had the unenviable task of trying to shackle Messi when he dropped into the spaces between Liverpool’s midfield and back line.
At times, though, Messi had him on a piece of string and went past him like he wasn’t there.
Conceded the free-kick which led to the third goal, in spectacular fashion from the Argentinian.
Naby Keita – 6
A real shame for Keita, who looked bright in the opening exchanges but lasted only 25 minutes as he had to be withdrawn after picking up what looked like a groin injury following a foul by Ivan Rakitic.
Touch wood it’s nothing serious and he’s back in action soon—he’s been in superb form of late, and Liverpool will need him in their remaining games this season.
James Milner – 5
Much trusted by Klopp for his experience in big games, Milner put himself about as he always does, covering an enormous amount of ground, but couldn’t quite make the difference in the final third when his team needed it.
Got himself into promising positions on the edge of the box on two occasions in the second half, but fired both shots straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen as the German goalkeeper was able to make comfortable saves.
The lack of ruthless cutting edge proved hugely costly for Liverpool in the end.
Mohamed Salah – 6
On a night defined by moments of quality in the final third, while Barcelona were clinical in taking the chances that came their way Liverpool were not, and Salah was unable to punish them when he had the opportunity to do so.
The Egyptian clearly had the beating of Clement Lenglet for pace, but his final ball was lacking throughout.
Forced Ter Stegen into a smart stop with a low, driven shot from the edge of the box, but produced what could well be a very costly miss as he hit the post late on from close range with the goal gaping.
Sadio Mane – 6
Probably Liverpool’s best attacker in the first half, Mane was more than a touch unfortunate not to win his side a penalty early on as Gerard Pique appeared to bundle him over in the box without getting any of the ball.
As with Salah, his usual razor-sharp finishing deserted him on this occasion, as he spurned an excellent chance from close range after latching onto Jordan Henderson‘s superb pass in the first half, firing over inside the box.
Kept trying to make things happen, but it didn’t quite click for him, and he was quiet in much of the second half.
Gini Wijnaldum – 5
Klopp sprang a huge surprise in deploying Wijnaldum in Roberto Firmino‘s vacant No. 9 role, but it was an experiment which didn’t pay off as he never looked comfortable and struggled to get himself into the game.
His endeavour can never be faulted, but it seemed like a strange decision, as Wijnaldum neither possessed the speed or natural attacking instinct to cause Barcelona’s defence any real problems.
Eventually withdrawn for Firmino, but it was a change which came too late to affect the game for Liverpool.
Jordan Henderson (on for Keita, 24′) – 6
Unfortunate not to start, Henderson replaced the injured Keita midway through the first half and supplied a magnificent pass to create a prime opportunity for Mane, which he could not convert.
Started the second half very well, but as the game wore on he and the rest of the midfield increasingly started to cede spaces in behind, which Barcelona ruthlessly exploited.
Roberto Firmino (on for Wijnaldum, 79′) – N/A
Not risked from the start due to a muscular injury, Firmino’s presence was clearly missed throughout, and perhaps ought to have come on earlier.
Had a shot cleared off the line late in the same move as Salah hit the post.
Divock Origi (on for Milner, 85′) – N/A
One final throw of the dice from Klopp as he desperately chased an away goal late on, but the Belgian had little time to make a telling impact.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold, Shaqiri
Jurgen Klopp – 5
The manager’s team selection certainly raised a few eyebrows, with Gomez thrown into such a big occasion despite his lack of minutes lately, in place of Trent at right-back.
The tactical surprise of deploying Wijnaldum in the false nine role did not pay dividends, as Liverpool looked an attacker light in the final third, despite dominating the ball high up the pitch for large periods of the game.
A change looked obvious, but Klopp waited until 79 minutes until introducing Firmino—perhaps due to his fitness status—but there were other options, such as Origi and Shaqiri, who might have made a difference had they had more time on the pitch.
The Keita injury certainly didn’t help, and Liverpool lost some guile and creativity on the ball once he went off.
The manner in which Liverpool allowed the game to get away from them despite controlling much of the second half will have enormously frustrated Klopp, and it leaves them with a huge mountain to climb at Anfield next week.