Monday, June 17, 2019

Prediction: Liverpool vs Barcelona

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 6 May 2019

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Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 31/20

Bookmaker: 888Sport

Having won the first leg by 3-0, Barcelona travel to England on Tuesday for the rematch against Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal.

Liverpool

The Merseysiders are still involved in the races for two of the biggest trophies – the Premier League as well as the Champions League, and though they seem to be the underdogs in both, the mere fact that there still there compared to where they were just a few years ago is stunning. The job Jurgen Klopp has done since taking over the reigns is indisputably remarkable, despite the fact that they still haven’t won a trophy in that time.

They’ve proven that they can play with the best and play and equal game at that (or more), and many have agreed that the scoreline from the first leg utterly belied what was happening on the pitch throughout the game. Very few teams are capable of coming to Nou Camp and playing an open game against Barcelona, but the Reds did it. They dominated possession, but the lack of focus in front of goal was extremely costly, as is always likely when you’re faced with the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Team News

However, just as was the case at Nou Camp, luck isn’t on Liverpool’s side this time either. Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, two members of their stunning attacking trio, have been ruled out through injury, and it remains to be seen how Klopp will attempt to tackle this problem. Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri are his options and there are more than one ways he can make use of them.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, freshly returned from a year-long absence, had a slight issue during the warm-up at St. James Park. Both he and defender Virgil van Dijk had to train separately on Monday, but their availability to play against Barcelona has been confirmed.

Barcelona

Unlike Liverpool, the Catalans have their own league title in the bag, and they took advantage of the luxury to rest almost the entire team on Saturday at Celta Vigo, consequently losing the game 2-0. They may have been outplayed in the middle of their own park in the first leg, but they won the game comfortably in the end, mostly due to their vast experience in winning big games, their willingness to do anything to win, and probably most of all – the magic of Messi.

Despite constantly being named among the favorites, Barcelona haven’t won the Champions League since 2015 – their arch-rivals Real Madrid won it every time. Last season, they were in a similar situation to this one in the quarterfinals, when they beat AS Roma by 4-1 at Nou Camp only to lose 3-0 at the Stadio Olympico and stun the football world by bowing out. They will certainly be more wary when they visit Anfield.

Team News

Despite their endeavor to rest players against Celta, the season seems to be over for Ousmane Dembele. The forward suffered a hamstring tear that will likely keep him out of action for three or four weeks. It means Philippe Coutinho is extremely likely to start along with Suarez at their ex home, against their former club.

Conclusion

Though Liverpool showed that they can match Barcelona’s quality in the first leg, it’s hard to see them coming back. Had they scored at least once at Nou Camp the tie would certainly be much more open, but as it is, they will have to attack the Catalans from minute one with everything they’ve got, and remains to be seen how much that is without Salah and Firmino.

Given that Liverpool will have to open up from the start, this game promises goals. Either the home side will break through and keeping dealing out punch after punch, or the visitors will once again take advantage of their vast experience and quality and make use of the space Liverpool leave behind to add insult to injury.

Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 31/20

Bookmaker: 888Sport

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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