We are finally here: The last match before we go to the Champions League final. The only question is, who will advance to play in Madrid on 1 June 2019? Does Liverpool possess a miracle against Barcelona or will Lionel Messi provide some of his glorious magic again to ensure the team goes through to face Ajax or Tottenham Hotspur? Let’s find out.
What Did We Learn From the First Leg?
A team needs to dominate their opponents for as long as possible. However, when Lionel Messi is involved, there’s not much you can do. The victory from Barcelona wasn’t considered a smash and grab, but they still managed to score three goals during the game. The intensity and movement by Liverpool created plenty of problems for Barcelona, and with better finishes from Liverpool, this could have been a lot closer.
What to Expect from the Second Leg
Ernesto Valverde, the head coach of Barcelona, gave nearly all starting players the day off when they played on Saturday against Celta Vigo, ensuring the star players are well-rested before the match. You can expect Barca to keep possession as much as possible throughout the game to frustrate the Reds. However, the absence of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino is a massive blow to the attacking force of Liverpool. Still, the overall game plan will be simplistic: Create opportunities for goal and try and score from the first minute to advance. Liverpool has nothing to lose now.
What Do the Reds Need To Advance?
Liverpool essentially needs to score a total of 4 goals during the match, or score 3-0 to go into extra time and win on penalties. This is undoubtedly an impossible task for the Reds at the moment. Also, Barcelona has only given up a total of 3 goals in the entire season which makes it even more of a challenge that cannot be done. If Liverpool can establish the press, rattle Barcelona, force long balls, and deny possession, they might have a shot, but it’s highly unlikely.
What Does Barcelona Need To Advance?
If Barcelona scores an away goal, they will be able to advance as Liverpool will then need to score five goals before there’s any trouble for Barcelona. The last time any football team managed to score five goals against Barcelona was in 2003. Barcelona needs to pick their sports, keep possession, forcing the Reds to foul, and patiently wait for an opportunity to score goals.
Battle to Watch
Virgil van Dijk vs Luis Suarez. The Reds need to score loads of goals during the match, suggesting that they’ll press hard and high for Virgil to find an open field. This will create loads of one-on-one situations with Barcelona’s Luis Suarez. This is one battle that will be well worth watching as Virgil will try everything to get past Suarez, while Suarez will do everything in his power to get the ball away from Virgil.