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Football

UCL: Depleted Liverpool host Barcelona in semi final return leg

Liverpool go into the game with several key injury concerns. (Agency Photos)

Liverpool vs Barcelona

Anfield Stadium, Liverpool

Tuesday, 07-05-2019 @10pm

Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

Concussion means Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been ruled out of the Champions League second leg against Barcelona at Anfield. Leading scorer Salah joins fellow forward Roberto Firmino (muscle tear) on the sidelines meaning Divock Origi, the substitute who scored their late winner at Newcastle on Saturday, is set to start. Midfielders Naby Keita (groin) and Adam Lallana (muscle) will not play again this season.

Ousmane Dembele has not travelled to Anfield after he was injured in Barcelona’s game with Celta Vigo, but aside from the winger and long-term midfield absentee Rafinha, the visitors have a full-strength squad to choose from.

What they are saying

Jürgen Klopp:  “There’s hope and it’s football. We are far from giving up, but we are not in a situation where we say, ‘It will happen, 100 per cent’. But it’s football and that’s why we give it a try and because of the boys and the character of the boys.”

Luis Suarez on return to Anfield: “I think people know the work I did here. I think there will be more applause than whistles. There may be quite a few who are not happy but I think there will be more who are happy and grateful.”

Suarez celebrates wildly after scoring the opener in the first leg.

“Celebrating the goal last week, people who know about football, who love this sport, know about the importance of this. I have all the respect in the world for the Liverpool fans. Because I scored and celebrated with my fans, I say sorry. Obviously, it is clear that if I score a goal against Liverpool I won’t celebrate it in the same way.”

Liverpool are looking to become only the third team in the history of the European Cup/Champions League to come from three goals down after the first leg of a semi-final and progress to the final, after Panathinaikos in 1970-71 and Barcelona in 1985-86. On only three previous occasions has a team been eliminated from a Champions League knockout tie having won the first leg by three or more goals, with the last occasion being Barcelona against Roma in last season’s quarter-final (4-1 first leg, 0-3 second leg). Barcelona have won both of their previous Champions League visits to Anfield against Liverpool, winning 3-1 in November 2001 and 1-0 in March 2007; Barcelona are the only away side to win more than once at Anfield in the Champions League. In all European competition, Liverpool have only lost one of their 18 home semi-finals at Anfield (W14 D3 L1), losing 0-1 to a Billy Bremner goal against Leeds United in the 1970-71 Fairs Cup. Barcelona have won two away Champions League games in England this season, winning 4-2 at Spurs and 1-0 at Manchester United – no side has ever won three away games in England in a major European competition in a single season. Liverpool are unbeaten in 19 home matches in all competitions (W16 D3 L0), only enjoying a longer run once under Jürgen Klopp – a run of 25 between January 2016 and January 2017. In the first leg, Liverpool became the 32nd different Champions League opponent Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored against – only former Real Madrid and Schalke striker Raúl has scored against more (33). Liverpool haven’t conceded a Champions League goal at Anfield in 367 minutes, since Kylian Mbappé scored for Paris Saint-Germain in September; the Reds haven’t kept five consecutive home clean sheets in the European Cup/Champions League since October 1984. Barcelona have won just five of their last 18 away Champions League knockout ties (W5 D4 L9), but four of those five victories have come in England (two vs Man City, one vs Arsenal and Man Utd), with the other against PSG in April 2015. Lionel Messi has 12 Champions League goals for Barcelona this season, just two shy of his best ever tally in a single season, scoring 14 in 2011-12; the Argentinian has netted more goals against English teams than any other player in the competition’s history (26), including six this season.

The other Semi final

-Ajax vs Tottenham (Agg: 1-0), Wednesday 08-05-2019 @10pm

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