Liverpool are in the semi-finals of the European Cup.
For the second successive season, Liverpool are playing in the semi-finals of the European Cup. That cannot be overstated. We cannot under appreciate this.
What this team have achieved this season is beyond remarkable and its a season that deserves to be remembered with pride and joy. Of course it might end in ‘failure’ but can the season really be considered a failure at this stage?
Its mad that we could be talking winning the European Cup as some form of consolation prize for not winning the league, of course thats not the case. This is huge, this is Barcelona vs Liverpool, this is mammoth.
Here are some of the details & factors we have had a look into that may be worth your consideration when having a punt on the clash at the Nou Camp, with enhanced odds & LFC-specific specials available on site!
BOTH SIDES IN IMPERIOUS FORM
Although we’ve won 10 on the trot heading into this fixture – including wins over Bayern, Spurs, Porto and Chelsea – Barcelona also arrive in good nick with 10 wins from 12 unbeaten games, most recently downing Levante to secure an eighth La Liga title in 11 years.
What concerns us most is the Catalan’s imperious record at the Camp Nou in Europe, where they’ve won 28 of 31 unbeaten games since 2013/14, while English teams haven’t typically fared well when travelling to Spain in recent times. Although its important to note & revel in the fact that we are the only English team to ever win at the Camp Nou.
Collectively, we’re only W1-D6-L3 away in first-leg knockout matches since 2007/08, and adding group stage and second-leg matches into the mix, it’s just W2-D4-L10 since 2014/15.
However, while Spanish sides have dominated European competitions in recent years, English football is now back on the up and a much closer W1-D4-L3 since the start of last season on these shores.
Much like ourselves, Barcelona get their full-backs forward to support their attacks, pushing ridiculously high up the pitch, though it can often leave them susceptible to balls played out wide on the counter in the space vacated behind.
We benefited from similar methods of attack in the quarter-finals against Porto and with both Mo Salah and Sadio Mane in fine fettle, there’s no question we possess the tools to hurt them in the same manner.
There’s also a weakness for Catalans in defending crosses, meaning there should be opportunities to target their backline from set-pieces or our own full-backs, both of whom can whip in a good ball.
RETURN OF FAB & BOBBY?
Our pace in the final third may well lead to Ernesto Valverde preferring Nelson Semedo to Sergi Roberto at right-back, though it remains a weak area in their team to be exploited as they’ve struggled to replace Dani Alves since he departed in the summer of 2016.
Valverde also has a choice to make up front between Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho, though with the Brazilian struggling since we sold him and the French starlet back from injury, we’d expect Dembele to get the nod.
That’s especially the case as he’s more likely to make runs in behind, something the 32-year-old Luis Suarez doesn’t do so often anymore, while Leo Messi tends to operate in a deeper position these days to dictate the play.
Jurgen Klopp doesn’t have too many selection headaches either.
It would appear that both Roberto Firmino and Fabinho have shaken off knocks and are available from the off, leaving us with plenty of options in midfield.
Jordan Henderson deserves to start after recent performances and with Georginio Wijnaldum being brought off mid-way through the second half against Huddersfield, we’d expect him to feature too.
Klopp has often gone with those two and James Milner in the big games, but given the way Messi has tormented the Englishman in the past when he was at Man City, we’d be surprised if Fabinho isn’t preferred, while Naby Keita has also grown in stature in recent weeks.
Barca may hold a daunting record at the Camp Nou in this tournament, but there are certainly weaknesses there to be punished, while the form of our jet-heeled attackers should see us register a crucial away goal or two.
It’s not as though the Catalans experience problems finding the net on their own patch either though, and both teams to score appears banker material to us.
*Odds are subject to change