Friday, August 23, 2019

Prediction: Barcelona vs Liverpool

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to gain an early advantage in their Champions League semi-final, Jurgen Klopp’s side will travel to the Nou Camp on Wednesday night.

Barcelona

Starting with the hosts, after picking up a 1-0 win over Levante last weekend, Barcelona have reclaimed their La Liga title with time to spear and a triple-winning season still remains on the cards. Now winning their last four matches across all competitions, including a 3-0 win over Manchester United in the quarter-finals a fortnight ago, the mood in Ernesto Valverde’s camp will be on a high. Looking to end their four-year wait to lift a European crown, one man who has continued to spearhead Barcelona’s stellar campaign both domestically and in Europe is five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi. Once again set reclaim his La Liga Golden Boot and sat 13 goals clear of his closest contender, the Argentinian superstar has 10 Champions League strikes to his name and is averaging a goal every 66 minutes. Now winning their last three European outings on the bounce, Valverde’s side also hold a very commanding record at the Nou Camp. Barca are unbeaten in their last 31 Champions League outings the Catalan giants have conceded just 15 goals in those 31 games, and never more than once in a match.

Team News

The Blaugrana have no major injury concerns and Valverde is likely to have to chose between fielding former Liverpool man Philippe Coutinho or Ousmane Dembele, both of whom are available.

Liverpool

As for the visitors, while Liverpool may have seen Manchester City leapfrog them into pole position in the Premier League title race, Jurgen Klopp’s side are enjoying a very bright end to the season. Sat two points adrift of the Sky Blues, the Reds have won their last 10 matches across all competitions and have scored two or more goals in each of those victories. Picking up a morale-boosting 5-0 win over an already relegated Huddersfield last weekend, the former Borussia Dortmund boss will be looking for his side to carry on their recent European performances outside of Merseyside. Despite enduring a run that saw them lose five consecutive Champions League matches away from Anfield, Liverpool have picked up back-to-back victories over Bayern Munich and Porto. While Barcelona have one attacking talisman enjoying another impressive campaign, Liverpool have their own forward enjoying a purple patch. Despite Mohamed Salah refinding his form, Senegal international Sadio Mane has now bagged four in his last four and has three in his last three Champions League matchups.

Team News

Liverpool have concerns over Roberto Firmino, who missed the Friday night win over Huddersfield, although the club hope to have him back for Wednesday. Fabinho also missed Friday’s game, but could return as well at the Camp Nou.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Liverpool have not lost in four previous away meetings with Barcelona in all competitions (W2 D2).
  • Barcelona have won more Champions League games against English sides (27) than any side has won against clubs from a particular nation in the competition’s history.
  • This is Liverpool’s 11th appearance in the European Cup/Champions League semi-finals – they’ve progressed from eight of their previous 10, failing only in 1964-65 (vs Inter) and 2007-08 (vs Chelsea).
  • Barcelona have only progressed from one of their four European Cup/Champions League semi-finals against English opposition, having been knocked out in 1974-75 by Leeds United, in 2007-08 by Manchester United and in 2011-12 by Chelsea. Their only such progression came in 2008-09 against Chelsea, before beating Manchester United in the final in Rome.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in 31 Champions League home games (W28 D3), the best such run in the competition. The Catalan giants have conceded just 15 goals in those 31 games, and never more than once in a match.

Conclusion

On paper, Wednesday has all the makings of a matchup that should produce an abundance of chances at both ends. With both Liverpool and Barcelona containing a string of attacking options, we’re backing a lively encounter at the Nou Camp in midweek.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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