Liverpool (0) Vs (3) Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Semi Finals 2nd Leg - Tuesday 7th May 20:00 - Match Preview
Liverpool has the chance to make history once again tomorrow night in trying to overcome a 3-0 loss away to Barcelona last week. The club has a rich history in this competition and should they manage to overcome the odds and reach the final this time around it would rank up there as one of the greatest European nights at Anfield ever. It's a big ask but they have mounted comebacks before and Barca did crash out of the competition last year in Rome after taking a seemingly secure lead in the first leg. With Liverpool taking the title race into the final game of the season there has been speculation that key players may be rested after the first leg defeat but Jurgen Klopp has rubbished those claims and insists his team aren't giving up on trying to make the final.
Liverpool will be requiring goals in order to make the final so it is not ideal that Jurgen Klopp will be without two of his three top attackers. Roberto Firmino has been suffering from a muscle injury which has seen him miss a previous couple of league games, he was on the bench in the first leg and came on in the 2nd half but wasn't at his best and has now been ruled out from appearing on Tuesday night. While Mo Salah scored in Liverpool's 2-3 win against Newcastle he suffered a head injury after colliding with the away sides keeper and is ruled out from playing on medical grounds following the concussion.
Trent Alexander Arnold missed out in the first leg with Joe Gomez preferred as right back, he came back into the side on Saturday and provided 2 assists in the win against Newcastle strengthening his claim to start at Anfield. Dejan Lovren looked shaky during the game and so that could leave an opening for Gomez to play at centre back instead alongside Van Dijk, reuniting a partnership that looked extremely solid earlier in the season. In the first leg, Wijnaldum was selected to play in attack and while he did a job pressing the Barca backline it didn't seem like the experiment fully paid off meaning he is likely to be restored to midfield this time out. Without Salah and Firmino in the attack, it remains to be seen whether Klopp will stick to the 4-3-3 formation or try something different. Daniel Sturridge looked good on the ball in the early moments on Saturday but seems to have lost the ability to run beyond defenders now and remains very stationary. Xerdan Shaqiri made an impact when coming off the bench against Newcastle and could be an option to replace Salah on the wing while Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has been fit again for a few weeks now and could have a role to play too.
Following the 3-0 win against Liverpool, Barca went on to lose their game at the weekend 2-0 away to Celta Vigo. Barca has already sealed the La Liga title and so made 11 changes to their lineup which will likely be restored at Anfield on Tuesday. There were a couple of changes I was expecting Barca to make for the 2nd leg with Arthur coming into midfield in place of Vidal and Dembele taking the place of former Liverpool player Philippe Coutinho. However, Dembele suffered an injury in the game against Celta Vigo meaning Coutinho's place may be safe. The Brazilian is likely to get a rather hostile reception when returning to Anfield after forcing his move to Spain with a phantom back injury and then expressing "great sadness" that they tried to keep him.
In the first leg, Liverpool seemed to get the better of Barca until they switched formations to a 4-4-2 and it is possible that is how the Spaniards will set up at Anfield. Former Liverpool hero Luis Suarez who opened the scoring and the magnificent Messi who struck twice are certain to start and seek to add more goals to their glorious records. As well as Dembele Barca will also be without midfielder Rafinha but are otherwise at full strength and will be desperate to avoid a repeat of last season. I expect them to look to keep hold of the ball for long periods of the game especially early on when Liverpool's fans are likely to be really up for it.