Champions League Preview: Liverpool v. Barcelona

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In honor of Star Wars day from a couple of days ago, the famous character Yoda’s most well-known phrase came to mind when thinking about Liverpool heading into its second leg with Barcelona.

Do, or do not. There is no try.

Should the Reds advance to a second-consecutive UEFA Champions League final, they’ll have to do the improbable, score four goals and beat Barcelona on Tuesday night in Liverpool.  Barcelona’s 3-0 win last week, concluded with a majestic, out-of-this-world free kick from Lionel Messi, was only the start of the bad run for Liverpool.

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Since then, the team has long stars Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino to injury, and the team’s defense looked shaky despite a 3-2 win at Newcastle.

There’s not much Jurgen Klopp could have done to help Liverpool avoid Messi’s magic, but he’s doing his best to remove any last vestiges of pressure ahead of Tuesday’s semifinal match.

The situation with the 3-0 is obviously not the situation we want to have before the second leg,” Klopp told reporters on Monday at a press conference. “Two of the world’s best strikers are not available for tomorrow and we have to score four goals to go through. It doesn’t make life easier, but as long as we have 11 players on the pitch we will try. You have to be perfect to beat them. It’s possible that this will be the last Champions League game of the campaign, so let’s celebrate it.”

If Liverpool want to be successful, it’s going to need players like Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk and Fabinho to step up even more than they have so far this season, with players such as Andy Robertson, Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum all having the games of their lives just to get back to 3-3. As Liverpool showed in Istanbul, overcoming a 3-0 deficit isn’t impossible. But they’ll have to do it.

Regardless of Tuesday’s result, it’s been an outstanding season for Liverpool. They’ve made up more than 20 points in the Premier League and made the Champions League semifinals yet again. However, it appears they’ve met a juggernaut that not even Ajax or Tottenham may be able to defeat in the Champions League final.

For Barcelona, while Ernesto Valverde’s team will know its in control of the tie, the club also knows that its heading into one of Europe’s most difficult environments. In addition, last year, many of this Barcelona squad collapsed at Roma, missing out on another deep Champions League run.

The Blaugrana will be hoping to avoid that fate this time around. One goal should be enough to see them through.

:”If we think about last week’s result it would be an error,” Valverde said. “We have to play it as if it was a final. It’s going to be difficult because we know their fans will get behind them. They have fast players. Sometimes you are put in situations that are uncomfortable. We want to have the feeling that we’re in control. They’re going to attack us, there’s no doubt about that. But we have to focus on ourselves.”