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Football

UCL: Barcelona host Liverpool in highly anticipated semifinal first leg

Messi has scored 24 goals against English opposition in the Champions League. (Agency Photos)

Barcelona vs Liverpool

Camp Nou. Barcelona

Wednesday, 01-05-2019 @10pm

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)

Roberto Firmino appears to be winning his race to be fit after a muscle tear, but a late decision will be made. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is available after returning against Huddersfield following a serious knee injury earlier this season. Young striker Rhian Brewster was included in the 23-man travelling party.

Barcelona have a near full-strength side to select from with Rafinha the only player missing with a long-term knee injury. Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho both only played 45 minutes on Saturday to keep their legs fresh for this encounter.

What the Managers are saying

Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona manager

“I’ve rested Lionel Messi more than usual but this has been a month with two Champions League clashes, and twice we had to play three games in a week,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said

“We wanted to clinch the Spanish league title, but at the same time we also wanted to make sure he was prepared for this tie. I think I’ve probably got the balance right.

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager

“I didn’t see Pele live but there are a lot of good players. Lionel Messi is for me the best.

“Yes we miss Coutinho, a lot, because he is a world-class player and I loved working with him. But we had to deal without him and we really did well. When I first heard he wanted to go to Barcelona, I didn’t imagine we could be that good [without him].

Match Facts

Liverpool have not lost in four previous away meetings with Barcelona in all competitions (W2 D2). Liverpool are the only English side to win away at Barcelona in European competition, beating them 1-0 in the 1975-76 UEFA Cup and 2-1 in the 2006-07 Champions League.

Liverpool are the only English team to defeat Barcelona at the Camp Nou. (Photo by Agency)

Barcelona have won more Champions League games against English sides (27) than any side has won against clubs from a particular nation in the competition’s history. This is Liverpool’s 11th appearance in the European Cup/Champions League semi-finals – they’ve progressed from eight of their previous 10, failing only in 1964-65 (vs Inter) and 2007-08 (vs Chelsea). Barcelona have only progressed from one of their four European Cup/Champions League semi-finals against English opposition, having been knocked out in 1974-75 by Leeds United, in 2007-08 by Manchester United and in 2011-12 by Chelsea. Their only such progression came in 2008-09 against Chelsea, before beating Manchester United in the final in Rome. Barcelona are unbeaten in 31 Champions League home games (W28 D3), the best such run in the competition. The Catalan giants have conceded just 15 goals in those 31 games, and never more than once in a match. Lionel Messi has scored 24 goals in just 32 Champions League matches against English opposition, however the Argentine has failed to net in his two previous such appearances versus Liverpool. Only Steven Gerrard (21) has scored more European Cup/Champions League goals for Liverpool than their current trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino (14 each).

The other semifinal first leg

-Tottenham Hotspurs 0-1 Ajax Amsterdam

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