Three things to look out for in Liverpool vs Barcelona
Liverpool have a mountain to climb as they host Barcelona in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final at Anfield, tonight.
This will be the second meeting between the two sides in one week. In the last meeting, the Blaugrana got better of their opponents as they thrashed Liverpool 3-0 at Camp Nou.
This win of Barcelona has kept them in an advantageous position and the credit of it goes to Lionel Messi. The Argentine captain scored a brace that left Liverpool on the back foot in the first-leg.
The first goal was lucky as the ball came to Messi’s feet after rattling the crossbar and the winger just tipped it inside the back of the net. The second goal, on the other hand, was a pure beauty. The Argentine forward took a stunning free kick from thirty meters that ended in the left top corner of the goal. This was Messi’s 600th goal for Barcelona in all competitions.
As the two sides prepare to face each other once again, tonight. We have three points that can create a lot of effect in this crucial encounter. Following are the three things to look out for in tonight’s fixture:
3) Counter-attacking gameplay from the Blaugrana
In the first leg, Liverpool who dominated the game in terms of possession, but the game ended in the favor of Barcelona. The prime reason for it being the counter-attacking gameplay from the Blaugrana.
Whenever the Reds roster was charging on Barcelona for a goal. The Blaugrana players were just snatching away the ball from them and giving it to their forward players to create counter-attacking chances.
Liverpool have to score at least four goals and concede none in order to match their last year Champions League record. It is not going to be easy and we are expecting the Reds to play attacking football.
However, it might cost them because Barcelona will once again try to hit their opponents on the counter-attack. The Blaugrana forwards and midfield have a great pace and it will be hard for Liverpool to stop them if any such incident occurs on the pitch.
2) The injury crisis at Liverpool
The current roster of Liverpool is filled with talent and depth, however, there are few players, who have made a lot of difference for the Reds on the pitch. One of them is Mohammed Salah. The Liverpool winger was the highest scorer of the Premier League last season and is leading the Golden Boot race this year as well.
Liverpool are currently one point behind Manchester City with one game left to play in the Premier League title race. It seems like a close fight but the chances of winning the league have almost ended. Because both Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have sustained injuries and there is no news about their return to the pitch.
With Barcelona being three goals ahead and only 90 minutes left in this semi-final. It is going to be hard for the Reds to do the impossible, especially in the absence of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Naby Keita.
These three players have been a key for Liverpool’s success in recent years. The absence of them has left a huge void in the Reds’ front line.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Divock Origi will be replacing the three injured players in the tonight’s fixture. It is not easy to fill in the boots of the injured players, however, these three back up players have to give their best in this nail-biting encounter.
1) Will Messi’s magic continue?
Lionel Messi has been in a sensational form this season. The Argentine captain has scored 48 goals and provided 18 assists in his 45 appearances in all competitions. His 12 out of 48 goals have come in the nine matches of the Champions League. This has made him the highest goal scorer in the ongoing UCL.
The last time Liverpool faced Barcelona. Many people told that Virgil Van Dijk will contain the Argentine and provide him no chance of scoring. However, it was proved wrong as Messi scored a brace and the Liverpool defender looked helpless throughout the game.
With nothing to prove, Messi will once again enter the Anfield with one motive of taking his team to the Champions League final. The Argentine has never scored a goal against Liverpool at Anfield. So, it will be interesting to see whether he finds the back of the net to end his goal drought at the opponent’s home.
We have analysed all the current situations of the two clubs. With Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino ruled out from this fixture due to injury. The chances of Liverpool of going to the second consecutive final of the Champions League have taken a downfall.
Moreover, Lionel Messi is in sensational form and it won't be easy to stop him tonight.
My Prediction: Liverpool 0 - 2 Barcelona