In Review

Champions League: Liverpool vs. Barcelona preview, team news, starting XIs, predictions, betting odds, TV

Without Firmino and Salah Liverpool will need another ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ to reach the final

Liverpool vs. Barcelona (0-3 on aggregate)

  • What: Uefa Champions League semi-final second leg 
  • When: Tuesday 7 May   
  • Where: Anfield, Liverpool   
  • Kick-off time: 8pm (UK time) 
  • TV channel and live stream: BT Sport 2 
  • Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey) 

If Liverpool are to reach the 2019 Uefa Champions League final they are going to have to record a victory even more memorable than the “Miracle of Istanbul”.

In the 2005 final in the Turkish capital the Merseyside club found themselves 3-0 down at half-time against AC Milan before hitting back to draw 3-3 then winning 3-2 on penalties.

On Tuesday night they have an equally big mountain to climb when they take on Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final tie.

Despite a good performance at the Camp Nou by Liverpool goals from Lionel Messi (two) and Luis Suarez gave the Catalans a 3-0 victory in the first leg.

Jurgen Klopp’s side will now somehow have to overturn that deficit and do it without two of their star attackers. It was confirmed on Monday that Mohamed Salah (concussion) and Roberto Firmino (groin) have both been ruled out of the return leg at Anfield.  

Salah was taken off with a head injury in the 3-2 win against Newcastle on Saturday and Klopp said: “It’s not good enough from a medical point of view. He is desperate to play but we cannot do it. It’s a concussion. That means he would not even be allowed to play.”

Barcelona meanwhile have already wrapped up the La Liga title in Spain and they rested the majority of their first team in the 2-0 loss against Celta Viga.

Klopp added: “We have to make a lot of decisions. [Tuesday] night is the third game in six days. Barcelona changed 11 positions at the weekend. We will see what the outcome is.”

Even with Liverpool needing to win by four clear goals in 90 minutes to go through - and without Salah and Firmino - Klopp insisted that his team will give it a real go against Messi and Co.

They will also take hope from the fact that Italian side AS Roma knocked out Barcelona in last year’s quarter-finals after losing by three goals (4-1) in the first leg in Spain. 

“The character of the boys… two of the world’s best strikers are not available and we have to score four goals to go through in 90 minutes,” said the German.

“As long as we have 11 players on the pitch we will try for 90 minutes to celebrate the Champions League campaign to give it a proper finish.”

What the managers had to say

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool

“We try to win the game. That makes sense. The situation is not what you want to have. You can’t play against Barcelona and tell the world, ‘watch this’. If at a specific moment they give us an opportunity to go to the next round we try to do it. Together with our supporters it’s been a long season. There’s a little chance to make it longer but these are the last two home games of an incredible season. We should celebrate it with a good performance on the pitch and in the stands.”

Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona

“Liverpool are a team that can make any opponent suffer. And of course last year we had a three-goal advantage in the quarter-finals. And we were knocked out. We have no reason to be complacent. The [first leg] result is good, I have no doubt about that, but the tie is still open.”

Team news and possible starting XIs

Liverpool injury news and suspensions

Already without Salah and Firmino Liverpool boss Klopp was given even more worries on Monday when defender Virgil van Dijk and midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missed training.

However, Metro reports that Van Dijk could still start on Tuesday night. According to a Liverpool spokesman the Dutchman missed the open training because he was instead undertaking an individual, tailored session.

Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge will compete for the attacking roles left vacant by Salah and Firmino. Teenage striker Rhian Brewster is also an option.

Klopp said of Brewster: “He’s ready. There is a big chance. It’s nearly sure. It’s guaranteed. The situations are always like this. In an ideal world, in a season you always have much more players than you can involve in a squad. When you’re on the bench, you are an option to play.”

Midfielders Naby Keita (groin) and Adam Lallana (muscular) are also out.  

Barcelona injury news and suspensions

Former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho could start on his return to Anfield after Ousmane Dembele was injured at the weekend. Rafinha (knee) is the only other player missing for the Spanish champions.

Possible starting XIs

How the teams could line up at Anfield, according to Uefa.com

  • Liverpool possible starting XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Mané, Origi 
  • Barcelona possible starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Rakitić, Busquets, Vidal; Suárez, Messi
Barcelona star Lionel Messi scored a sensational free-kick against Liverpool

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Score predictions

London Evening Standard: Liverpool 2 Barcelona 2 (2-5 on aggregate)

“Liverpool’s lack of an away goal at Camp Nou coupled with the respective absences of Salah and Firmino means they are left needing a near-miracle to overturn such a significant deficit on Merseyside. AS Roma were handily beaten by the Catalans in last year’s quarter-final first leg, but finding the net in that away drubbing meant they were able to complete a sensational turnaround on home soil. That second leg was the only game prolific Barcelona have lost in their last 22 in the Champions League and it is very difficult to see them being kept off the score-sheet at Anfield. Liverpool will give it their all on Tuesday, but the task just appears too great - especially without two of their leading marksmen.” 

90min: Liverpool 2 Barcelona 1 (2-4 on aggregate)

“If you’re looking for entertainment then this is the match to watch. There’s likely to be an onslaught from the hosts as they look to resurrect this tie, though they will need to be wary of Barcelona counter-attacks. It’s difficult to see either side keeping a clean sheet given the sacrifices the Reds must make in their pursuit of goals. They will push hard, the ghost of Istanbul keeping alive hopes of a remarkable turnaround. However, there is a lethal marksman waiting to kill the contest off. As they commit men forward, the likelihood of a Messi sucker-punch increases. They will fight valiantly, but it may ultimately prove to be in vain.” 

Sports Mole: Liverpool 1 Barcelona 1 (1-4 on aggregate)

“Liverpool are aiming to become only the third team in the history of the European Cup to come from three goals down after the first leg of a semi-final and progress to the final - Panathinaikos in 1971 and Barcelona in 1986 being the others. The Reds know all about what it takes to pull off a famous European comeback, and their opponents have more recently been on the wrong end of a three-goal turnaround, but Barca will be at pretty much full strength and should be able to see the job through to remain on course for a famous treble.”

ESPN: Liverpool 2 Barcelona 1 (2-4 on aggregate)

“Liverpool win 2-1 on the night, but Barcelona advance 4-2 on aggregate. It’s too much of a mountain to climb without two of their world-class front three.” 

Liverpool vs. Barcelona betting odds

As of 7 May, see Oddschecker for the latest prices.

Match betting
  • Liverpool to win: 6/4 
  • Draw: 14/5 
  • Barcelona to win: 15/8
To qualify for the final
  • Liverpool to progress: 18/1 
  • Barcelona to progress: 1/20 
To win the Champions League
  • Barcelona: 4/9 
  • Ajax: 7/2 
  • Tottenham: 10/1   
  • Liverpool: 22/1

When is the Champions League final?

The 2018-19 Champions League final will be played at the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain, on Saturday 1 June (8pm UK time). Barcelona or Liverpool will play Ajax or Tottenham in the final.

Ajax lead 1-0 after their first-leg win in north London last week. The Dutch side host Spurs in the second leg on Wednesday 8 May.  

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