Liverpool have a mountain to climb in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final meeting with Barcelona at Anfield on Tuesday night.
La Blaugrana go into the rematch with a healthy three goal advantage after securing a 3-0 victory at Camp Nou last week. A deft finish from Luis Suarez and a Lionel Messi double helped Ernesto Valverde's men take a stranglehold on the tie, with a superb treble still on the cards for the Catalans.
They have already wrapped up a second successive La Liga title, whilst Valencia lie in wait the Copa del Rey final. The Reds could also claim domestic silverware this season, their pulsating 3-2 win over Newcastle United on Saturday keeping them in the hunt to claim a first Premier League trophy.
Check out 90min's preview of the crucial clash below.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Tuesday 7 May|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Anfield|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport 2|
Liverpool top scorer Mohamed Salah was stretchered off with a head injury at St James' Park over the weekend, though there is an outside chance of the Egyptian featuring on Tuesday night. However, both Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita are missing with groin strains.
Adam Lallana completes the list of those unavailable for Jurgen Klopp, the out-of-favour midfielder currently sidelined with a muscular problem. Fortunately for the coach, none of his squad are suspended for a pivotal match in their season.
Barça centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo is ineligible for European action, whilst Ousmane Dembele will miss out after suffering a hamstring tear over the weekend.
Rafinha has been out of action since November after rupturing his anterior cruciate knee ligament and will not return until next term, Valverde having no further casualties to account for.
|Liverpool||Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Shaqiri, Mane, Sturridge.|
|Barcelona||ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Vidal; Messi, Coutinho, Suarez.|
Head to Head Record
This will be the 10th time the two sides have locked horns, the record perfectly balanced at three wins apiece. However, the Mersyesiders have emerged triumphant in just one of the last five match-ups, Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise both scoring in a 2-1 away victory 12 years ago.
Messi was on the pitch that day, yet struggled to impact proceedings as he and his teammates were booted out of the Champions League. Things were rather different last Wednesday, however, with the Argentine magician single-handedly dismantling a stunned Reds outfit.
He brought up 600 goals for the club he joined as a wide-eyed 13-year-old with a freakishly accurate free-kick in the first leg, the crowd brought to its feet by a goal of supreme majesty. That delicious strike compounded Klopp's misery and completed a perfect night for Valverde.
Suarez had broken the deadlock midway through the opening period, nudging Jordi Alba's tantalising cross past the helpless Alisson. Messi then walked the ball in after the break when the Uruguayan's improvised effort rebounded off the crossbar, his sumptuous strike minutes later topping off a marvellous performance.
The Reds kept the pressure on Manchester City at the top of the Premier League courtesy of the three points they collected against Newcastle last time out, Divock Origi popping up late on to nod home a potentially priceless winner.
That result was their eighth victory in a row in domestic competition, with impressive triumphs over Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coming in that run. Salah has rediscovered his scoring touch after hitting six in his last eight matches; it would prove a major blow for Liverpool if he is indeed ruled out.
WE. KEEP. GOING. 👊🔴— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 4, 2019
A 2-0 defeat at Celta Vigo on Saturday will do little to dampen the mood in the Barcelona ranks, that loss being their first since going down 2-0 at Sevilla in January. They remain nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid in the table, another Spanish crown having already been secured thanks to a stumbling 1-0 win over Levante less than a fortnight ago.
Messi has now fired in a sublime 17 goals in just 12 matches, with Klopp's cohort one of a number of sides to kneel before his might. Worse still for the former Borussia Dortmund boss, Barça have a decidedly mean defensive record.
Before the disappointment against Celta, they had conceded just once in eight fixtures; that is a frightening statistic given that Liverpool need plenty of goals to progress to the final.
Here's how the teams got on in their last five games:
|Celta Vigo 2-0 Barcelona (04/5)||Newcastle United 2-3 Liverpool (04/5)|
|Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool (01/5)||Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool (01/5)|
|Barcelona 1-0 Levante (27/4)||Liverpool 5-0 Huddersfield Town (26/4)|
|Alaves 0-2 Barcelona (23/4)||Cardiff City 0-2 Liverpool (21/4)|
|Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad (20/4)||Porto 1-4 Liverpool (17/4)|
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 vein.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Barcelona