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Champions League preview: Barcelona v. Liverpool

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Score.

It’s as simple as that, really. When it comes to Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, the Reds can deal with being behind but have little hope with a zero on the board in terms of away goals.

And we know they aren’t playing for 0-0.

[ MORE UCL: Spurs-Ajax recap | Eriksen reacts ]

“We need to be completely free,” says Jurgen Klopp. “I know people say we’ve been better in the past couple of years and that Barcelona aren’t the same Barcelona any more but they are a brilliant team.”

It’s Klopp’s first time managing against the Blaugranas, and that presents the question of whether what he’ll bring to the match will be able to flummox Barca or whether the first time dealing with the Catalan club will leave Klopp without answers.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is prepared for a free-flowing Liverpool attack, saying the key to beating the Reds is dealing with their “15-minute” bursts of pressure and surviving the high press.

From Marca:

“They have a set game that feeds the three attackers; they push forward their defense and they want to steal the ball in your area to throw it fast to the forwards,” he noted. “You have to have an answer to their impetus and you have to know how to overcome the suffocating pressure they implement.”

Maybe the Reds can make Barca see ghosts.

Alisson Becker was the goalkeeper when Roma stunned Barca in last season’s quarterfinal.

Then again, he also allowed four goals at the Camp Nou. And Virgil Van Dijk has been there before, and knows it can’t get much worse than the 6-1 loss he suffered with Celtic in 2013.

That’s a long time ago, and both Van Dijk and his supporting cast are far superior to that iteration of the Bhoys.

Klopp and the Reds have had a lot of success in tournament play, making a Europa League and Champions League Final in addition to this season’s semifinal (at a minimum) performance.

“You can’t aim to be legends of the future, you just have to do the work and if someone looks at you like that and thinks ‘legend’ then it happens and it’s all good,” he said.

LIVE — USMNT seeks ‘payback’ v. Canada in CONCACAF Nations League

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The USMNT’s CONCACAF Nations League hopes are on the line when it meets Canada in Orlando at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

[ FOLLOW: USMNT on Twitter ]

The Yanks seek to avenge a 2-0 loss to the Canucks in Toronto last month, one that heaped pressure on coach Gregg Berhalter.

If the USMNT fails to win on Friday, a match Canada also needs for its World Cup qualifying hopes, it will bow out of the tournament before the semifinal round.

There’s no place for DeAndre Yedlin in the back line, as Tim Ream‘s been chosen to play right back with a center back pairing of John Brooks and Aaron Long. Sergino Dest starts on the right.

The midfield will have Jackson Yueill lying deep, with Weston McKennie and Sebastian Lletget also getting the call.

Gyasi Zardes starts at center forward with Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola on the wings.

EURO qualifying wrap: Sweden joins Finland in qualifying

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Finland and Sweden have qualified for EURO 2020 after posting big wins on Friday, the former doing it at home to relative minnows Liechtenstein while the latter scored an impressive win away to Romania.

[ WATCH: G. Jesus’ comical penalty miss ]


Romania 0-2 Sweden

Marcus Berg and Robin Quaison scored first half goals as Sweden qualified for its sixth-straight EURO. Both are having decent starts to the club season. The veteran Berg has scored five times for Krasnodar, while the 26-year-old Quaison has scored four times for Mainz this season.

Spain 7-0 Malta

The Spanish had seven different goal scorers beginning with Alvaro Morata and Santi Cazorla providing a 2-0 halftime lead. Spain out shot Malta 25-1, with Pau Torres, Pablo Sarabia, Dani Olmo, and Gerard Moreno also scoring for an experimental squad.

And what if we told you Jesus Navas scored? Cause he did.

Denmark 6-0 Gibraltar

Christian Eriksen scored twice in the final five minutes after Robert Skov’s brace came sandwiched around Christian Gytkjaer and Martin Braithwaite goals. The Danes climbed to the top of Group D, one point better than the Swiss and three better than Republic of Ireland (who it meets on the last match day).

Switzerland 1-0 Georgia

Granit Xhaka went 90 minutes and Cedric Itten scored the game’s lone goal as the Swiss joined the Danes in climbing above Republic of Ireland.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 0-3 Italy

The Azzurri were clinical on Friday, with Francesco Acerbi, Lorenzo Insigne, and Andrea Belotti bagging

Elsewhere
Norway 4-0 Faroe Islands
Finland 3-0 Liechtenstein — RECAP
Armenia 0-1 Greece

WATCH: Gabriel Jesus comically misses penalty; Messi pots winner on Argentina return

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As long as Lionel Messi is on the field, Argentina and Brazil is going to be must-watch no matter the location.

Messi converted a rebound of his own won and saved penalty to score his 69th international goal in Argentina’s 1-0 win in a Saudi Arabia-hosted friendly on Friday.

[ MORE: Finland makes history ]

It was Messi’s first match with Argentina since the summer, when he was banned three months for claiming the 2019 Copa America tournament was fixed for hosts Brazil.

Let’s be real, though: You should be here for this terrible penalty miss from Gabriel Jesus.

The Brazilian also won his penalty, but his miss was a dreadful dribble wide of the frame. It clicked three boxes of terrible: no direction, no conviction, no technique.

Pique: Griezmann growing into Barca role “little by little”

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This summer, there was plenty of talk that Barcelona’s players wanted Neymar in town and quite the opposite regarding Antoine Griezmann.

The Atletico Madrid star was the player purchased by Barcelona.

[ MORE: Finland makes history ]

Griezmann, 28, has four goals and three assists in 15 matches, but the bulk of that outlay came in two matches and he’s without a goal or assist in the UEFA Champions League.

A bit different from his 21 goals and 10 assists in 48 matches last season, at least on the goals end, but the Frenchman is settling into a new club and city.

While it’s not like his new teammates think he’s garbage, they aren’t sugarcoating their opinion of his transition nor downplaying their lofty opinion of Barca.

Here’s Gerard Pique, via AS.com:

“Real Sociedad and Atlético were teams who played for Griezmann. That’s not the case at Barca, because the level is higher and he has to find his place in the side. Little by little he’s finding it. He’s got the quality and talent for it.”

Pique also blew off Barca’s extra rest before the new El Clasico date, and talked about Leo Messi’scontract talks as well as his relationship with Sergio Ramos. It’s all here.