by Jett Ellis-George
Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, is looking forward to the much anticipated semi-final clash against European heavyweights FC Barcelona, as part of the UEFA Champions League this Wednesday (1 May).
This match will take place at Camp Nou, and will be the first time the two clubs have met in over a decade.
Klopp expressed his pride in his team’s performance thus far: “The news that there is a proper football game between Barcelona and Liverpool is great. To be in the semi-finals for the second year running is a big statement.”
Liverpool has an extra day to prepare for the showdown and are recovering from a 5-0 hammering from Huddersfield Town on Friday night.
Although Klopp stated that he was happy with his team’s mindset against Huddersfield, he insisted that their focus was now on Barcelona:
“We are happy with the points we have, and now we are focused on the next game. We have a mindset that works, and we try to create problems for each opponent by working hard.”
In contrast, Barcelona secured their 26th La Liga title on Saturday, with a 1-0 victory against Levante. The newly crowned Spanish champions are confident they will keep up their winning momentum, and will try to avoid any possible slip ups.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was pleased with his side even though he describes the Spanish league as a difficult title to win.
Valverde expects his team to be in high spirits on Wednesday when they welcome Liverpool. Valverde commented on how winning would set his team up for their next game:
“Winning the title tomorrow would boost our moral for the game against Liverpool.”
We can look forward to an enticing tactical battle in the upcoming match. Barcelona will undoubtedly play their football. They will press high, try to keep the ball, and make quick one-two touch combinations in dangerous areas. The debate will be whether Valverde goes with their normal high defensive line, as Liverpool use Mane and Salah’s blistering pace to exploit the space behind a high line.
Expect to see Liverpool accepting Barcelona’s ball dominance, and try cause danger on the counter attack in wide areas. When Liverpool move up the pitch, they often leave a lot of space behind their overlapping full backs. Barcelona should try to take advantage of this. The anticipation surrounds Liverpool’s defence against Lionel Messi, but expect to see two or three players follow his every move.
This game is set to be a great game of football, as well as a game of chess between two masterminds of the sport. Will it be Barcelona’s free romantic football, or Liverpool’s high intensity, fast-flowing determination that will prevail? The answer lies at Camp Nou on Wednesday.