In what is the most highly-anticipated match of the ongoing UEFA Champions League campaign this season, Barcelona will host Liverpool in the first leg of the semi-finals at the Camp Nou stadium on Wednesday. Both the European giants have won the competition on five occasions and will look to increase their tally this season.
Barcelona were recently crowned as champions of La Liga with their victory over Levante and they are also in the finals of the Copa Del Rey tournament. With their run in Champions League, the Lionel-Messi led side are aiming for a treble this season after previously winning the three major trophies in 2015.
Liverpool last lifted the coveted European trophy in 2005 after famously defeating AC Milan. Since then, the Kops have failed to make a mark with any major trophy and they will be striving to change that in the current season. Placed second — one point behind rivals Manchester City — in the League, they are also contending for the England’s Premier League title.
Ahead of the mega-blockbuster fixture, managers of both the sides spoke in the pre-match presser.
“Our intention is to win, but we know the value of stopping them from scoring too. We have to play two good matches. They latch onto mistakes and can overrun you in 15 minutes – we need to stop them doing that. The first 15 minutes of each half are important, that’s when they try to push you, smother you and throw everything they can at you, ” said Barca coach Valverde.
While Reds boss Jurgen Klopp stated that his side will be looking for nothing short of a win, they would not mind settling for a draw.
“A draw would not be the worst result in the world. So many people have come to play Barcelona with a plan and then got a proper knock. We saw the game against Real Sociedad [last weekend], they did well; Levante did well [on Saturday], but Barcelona won. Messi said before the season he wants to bring back this cup and that sounds like a threat to all of us,” Klopp said.
Head to Head
Their previous encounter between concluded in the favour of Liverpool as they progressed on away goals in the first knockout round of 2006-07. The Reds have an edge over Barcelona as they are unbeaten in their previous four encounters at Camp Nou with two wins and two draws. In the two-legged ties as well, Liverpool holds an advantage, having won their three previous fixtures.
Recent Form (all competitions) :
Liverpool – WWWWWW
Possible line-ups –
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitić, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suárez, Coutinho
Out: Rafinha (knee)
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Out: Lallana (muscular)
Doubtful: Firmino (groin)