Barcelona host Liverpool at the Nou Camp on Wednesday evening in the second Champions League semi-final.
Both sides arrive at the game full of confidence after superb seasons in their respective domestic leagues and for many, the winner of this tie will go on to be named champions of Europe.
Barcelona have already secured a second successive La Liga title and with a Copa del Rey final to come later this month, the Spanish giants are closing in on a superb treble. Whilst Liverpool are by no means guaranteed to win any silverware this season, they have improved considerably on last season. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are fighting for a first ever Premier League title and have already accumulated a record points tally.
Boasting excellent European pedigrees, both Barcelona and Liverpool are chasing a sixth Champions League / European Cup win. Only Real Madrid (13) and Milan (7) have won more. But it is Barcelona’s great rivals, Real Madrid, that have dominated recently, winning four of the past five titles, including the last three.
Brazilian forward, Roberto Firmino, remains a slight doubt for Liverpool after missing the recent Premier League win over Huddersfield Town with a thigh injury. Daniel Sturridge lead the line in Firmino’s absence and will be in contention to start should he fail to prove his fitness. Firmino’s compatriot, Fabinho, has been passed fit and could be in line to star in Barcelona.
Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho are both set to face their former club at the Nou Camp and could form a formidable front-line alongside the tournament’s top scorer, Lionel Messi.
Messi has been instrumental in Barcelona’s charge to a first semi-final since winning the competition in 2014/15. In the subsequent three seasons, Barcelona have looked on in frustration as Real Madrid have won successive Champions League titles.
Madrid’s dominance prompted Messi to take to the Nou Camp pitch and make a promise to the Barcelona fans that the club would become Kings of Europe once again this season.
Messi exclaimed that he would help bring “that beautiful cup back to Nou Camp.”
Midfielder, Ivan Rakitic, added, “Leo has been a La Liga champion 10 times in 15 years and, of course, after seeing him lift the cup [the La Liga title] with such happiness, that motivates everyone. If Leo is happy to win every title, it makes us even more eager too. We know we're Barca, we have to give everything and following the best player in history gives us more confidence to do that.”
As mentioned above, both these sides are enjoying a fine season. Barcelona come into the game high in confidence after sealing the La Liga title at the weekend whilst Liverpool’s most recent game was a crushing 5-0 defeat of already-relegated, Huddersfield Town.
Sadio Mane and Mo Salah scored two goals apiece in that win over Huddersfield Town and will hope to add to the four goals they’ve each scored in this season’s Champions League.
Liverpool are in the last four by virtue of a routine win home and away against Portuguese club, Porto. Meanwhile, Barcelona were equally comfortable in their 4-0 aggregate win over Manchester United.
We quite rightly suggested goals would be sparse in the first quarter final between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax but we cannot see there being a similar outcome at the Nou Camp on Wednesday evening. Despite the Liverpool defence being marshalled by PFA Player of the Year, Virgil van Dijk, we can see goals in this one.
The attacking quartet of Messi, Suarez, Mane and Salah would strike fear into any defence and with a place in the final at stake, we at Compare Betting Sites expect goals aplenty in Barcelona. Get on over 2.5 match goals at 5/6 with Smarkets.
Luis Suarez solitary goal proved the difference in the first leg of Barcelona’s quarter-final win over Manchester United and the former Liverpool hitman could come back to haunt his old club. The Uruguayan is 5/1 to score first on Wednesday with SpreadEx.
Strike partner, Lionel Messi, has scored 24 goals in 32 Champions League appearances against English opposition but has failed to score in his previous two games against Liverpool.
Messi is in arguably the best form of his career at the moment and the competition’s top scorer will undoubtedly attract plenty of interest in the goal scoring markets. Here is a list of some potential bets you may want to consider:
Lionel Messi to score at any time - 49/50 (888sport)
Lionel Messi to score first - 3/1 (Unibet)
Lionel Messi to score two or more - 9/2 (William Hill)
Liverpool have a surprisingly good record against Barcelona and have not been beaten in four previous trips to the Nou Camp; winning two and drawing two of four previous matches. However, this Barcelona are currently enjoying a 31-game unbeaten run at home in the Champions League, winning 28.
Barcelona - 20/21 (BetVictor)
Draw - 14/5 (BetVictor)
Liverpool - 17/5 (Unibet)
Barcelona - 8/11 (Betfred)
Liverpool - 6/5 (BetVictor)