The first question to be answered tonight – and the biggest one – probably has the easiest answer. There is slim to nil chance, and probably closer to nil, that Barcelona will not make the final of the Champions League tonight. They were always likely to be in the driving seat – indeed the prices for the first-leg suggested that – but a 3-0 first leg lead with no away goal appears to be truly insurmountable.
Last year Barcelona took a three-goal lead into the second leg of their quarter-final against Roma and famously lost 3-0 to the Italians, but they had two things that Liverpool, for all their talent, did not: An away goal and a fully fit side.
It’s a frustrating situation for Liverpool given how well they played last week and had it not been for the excellence of Ter Stergen and two big chances missed, there would be a feeling that this tie is far from over.
Liverpool do have the home record and ability to turn over a deficit – in 25 games at Anfield they’ve won 20, drawn three and lost only in the EFL Cup with a much changed side. Nine of those victories have come by at least three goals, but they general came with their fully fit front three and a team that will be less tired than Klopp’s men must be towards the end of this season.
Jurgen Klopp and his men will give it everything tonight but the loss of Mo Salah to a head injury in a thrilling 3-2 win at Liverpool means that Sadio Mane will be forced to lead the line on his own in this herculean task. The loss of Firmino was bad enough for them but without Salah there’s a huge loss of raw pace and movement and Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique will feel an awful lot more secure than they did last week.
Liverpool v Barcelona
UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg
20:00 BT Sport 2 / BT Sport 4K UHD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
MAY 2018 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Barcelona 3-1 Liverpool
MAR 2007 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Liverpool 0-1 Barcelona
FEB 2007 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Barcelona 1-2 Liverpool
MAR 2002 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Barcelona 0-0 Liverpool
NOV 2001 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Liverpool 1-3 Barcelona
APR 2001 UEFA CUP Liverpool 1-0 Barcelona
APR 2001 UEFA CUP Barcelona 0-0 Liverpool
There’s still a threat in the shape of Wijnaldum, Shaquiri, and Sturridge but it won’t be the same as before and when Liverpool come forward, as they have to, Suarez, Coutinho and Lionel Messi himself, and they ought to get enough chances to score at least the one goal that will settle this as a contest; Indeed, they might even walk away with the win.
But just in case it proves a damp squib with the feeling of it’s all done and dusted I’ll have a saver on 0-0.
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