Barcelona and Liverpool are European football royalty and head into this contest level on 5 European Cups apiece. With the top scorer across all European leagues – Lionel Messi – turning out for the Catalans, and the top two scorers in the Premier League – Salah and Mane – leading the attack for the redmen, 0-0 looks an unlikely result.
Ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Liverpool, Barcelona were able to put their league campaign to bed with a 1-0 victory over Levante; securing their 26th La Liga title in the process thanks to a goal from second-half substitute Lionel Messi.
Winning another La Liga title will not be enough to classify this season as a success for the Catalans. This is, after all, their fourth Spanish title in five years and Messi’s 10th overall. The La Liga title is almost expected. To attain true glory, Barca must succeed in completing a treble: La Liga, Copa del Rey, and a first Champions League title since 2015 (the last time they reached the final). Central to Barcelona’s success will be, as ever, Lionel Messi.
Much like Barcelona, Liverpool are chasing success on two fronts. Unlike Barca, one of those fronts is their domestic league. Any other year, this Liverpool side’s Premier League record (only one loss and already taken over 90 points with two games remaining) would be lauded as one of the best in recent years. Unfortunately for Liverpool, they still train an outstanding Manchester City side.
Have no doubts, Liverpool are the side that Barcelona would least have liked to face in the competition. With away victories in the last two rounds, the reds have proved they can travel abroad and upset the hosts on their own turf. And while Mohamed Salah once again top’s the goalscoring chart in the Premier League, this Liverpool side is built on much firmer foundations than the side that lost last year’s final against Real Madrid. With PFA Player of the Year Virgil Van Dijk marshalling the defence and Brazil no.1 Alisson Becker between the sticks, Liverpool stand a better chance than most at shutting out Messi.
Barcelona head into this massive Champions League semi-final clash at Camp Nou as favourites for victory at 7/8 (1.87). But Liverpool shouldn’t be underestimated given their recent form – 10 victories in a row in all competitions – and will fancy their chances despite odds of 31/10 (4.10) for the win.
Given the European pedigree of both clubs, it’s a little surprising that Barcelona and Liverpool have faced each other on only eight occasions. Liverpool have been the dominant force in these fixtures, winning three (two at Camp Nou) and drawing two of the matches played. Barcelona have never knocked Liverpool out of a European competition, losing the tie courtesy of away goals the last time the sides met – a round of 16 Champions League fixture in 2007.
With their high-intensity football and goal-scoring threat, Liverpool have every chance of taking a second consecutive Champions League victory at the home of Barcelona. But, even with the colossus that is Virgil Van Dijk at the heart of their defence, keeping Lionel Messi at bay for the entire game seems like too tough a task. That’s why we’d back Liverpool to win and both teams to score at 26/5 (6.20).
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