Liverpool vs Barcelona
| Tuesday May 7th |
Champions League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
For the second year running, Liverpool are in a Champions League semi-final, but barring a series of extremely unlikely events, the Reds won’t be replicating their final run from last year. What looked like a near-insurmountable task after falling to a harsh 3-0 defeat at the Camp Nou has been exacerbated by the confirmed absence of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Barcelona — already having wrapped up the Spanish league title with three rounds to go — rested their entire starting XI at the weekend, with Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué left out of the squad altogether, as the blaugranes B-team lost to a resurgent Celta Vigo, spearheaded by former Red Iago Aspas. Ousmane Dembélé limped off with an injury and won’t make the trip to Anfield, but Barca are otherwise fully stocked and well-rested ahead of the return leg.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mané, Sturridge, Origi
As noted, two of the vaunted front three will be missing tomorrow, with Firmino unable to shake the muscle injury that kept him out of the starting line-up in the first leg, and saw him miss the Newcastle trip altogether, while Salah’s concussion-like symptoms have not abated sufficiently for the Egyptian to ble cleared for action.
As such, starts for Daniel Sturridge and late-goal specialist Divock Origi appear likely. Naby Keïta’s season is over after the Guinean tore a groin muscle in the first leg, and a surprise start for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be on the cards, with the Reds otherwise lacking ball progressers in midfield.
At the back, Joël Matip should be reinstated along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool requiring all the offensive firepower they can muster if they are to spark any hope of a comeback.
The probability of a three-goal turnaround is low, particularly with the team missing two of its most potent threats, but as they showed at the weekend, Jürgen Klopp’s side is not one to roll over and go away quietly, so at the very least, we can expect them to give it a proper go tomorrow night.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “There’s hope and it’s football. We are far from giving up, but we are not in a situation where we say, ‘It will happen, 100 per cent’. But it’s football and that’s why we give it a try and because of the boys and the character of the boys.”
Ernesto Valverde: “”
The Officials (TUR)
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır
Assistant referees: Bahattin Duran, Tarik Ongun
Fourth official: Artur Dias (POR)
Video Assistant Referees: Felix Zwayer, Sascha Stegemann (GER)
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.