PREVIEW: Barça - Liverpool

PREVIEW: Barça - Liverpool

The newly crowned LaLiga title winners host Liverpool at the Camp Nou in the Champions League semifinals

Fresh from mathematically clinching the 2018/19 LaLiga title with a 1-0 win against Levante last Saturday, FC Barcelona have their focus firmly on the Champions League this week. Wednesday night sees them play the first leg of the semifinals, meeting Premier League title contenders Liverpool at the Camp Nou (9pm CEST).

Job done in LaLiga

Barça have already been able to celebrate their LaLiga title win, and the victory against Levante at the Camp Nou on Matchday 35 meant that they could celebrate the occasion in front of their home fans. It is the first time that the Blaugrana have been crowned champions at their own ground since 2010, when the side coached by Pep Guardiola bested Valladolid.

Liverpool still have work to do if they are to become domestic champions, as the Premier League title race is set to go down to the wire. They are embroiled in a battle with Manchester City, and Jurgen Klopp's team were able to best Huddersfield 5-0 in their most recent fixture.

Precedents

FC Barcelona and Liverpool have crossed paths eight times in European competition: Four times in the Champions League and four times in the UEFA Cup. There have been three wins for the English side, two for Barça, and three draws. The results have always been close, and a 1-3 victory for Barça in 2001 is the largest winning margin in these games. FC Barcelona have never beaten Liverpool at Camp Nou. 

Barça hold 27 wins against English sides in the Champions League.

Messi goals have been key to progress

Whenever Leo Messi has scored in at least one game in a knockout tie, Barça have gone through to the next round. He also has a history of goals in semifinals, having bagged a brace against Bayern Munich in 2015 and scoring one of the best strikes in the history of the competition to help eliminate Real Madrid in 2011. 

Head-to-head records in this season's Champions League

  - Goals conceded: Liverpool: 9, Barça: 5
  - Goals scored: Liverpool: 18, Barça: 23
  - Top goalscorer in the CL: Liverpool: Salah (4), Barça: Messi (10)
  - Records: Liverpool: 6W 3L 1D, Barça 7W 3D 0L

The squad

Ernesto Valverde has chosen the following players for the home game against Liverpool: Ter Stegen, N. Semedo, Piqué, I. Rakitic, Sergio, Coutinho, Arthur, Suárez, Messi, O. Dembélé, Cillessen, Malcom, Lenglet, Jordi Alba, S. Roberto, Vidal, Umtiti and Aleñá.

Rafinha is still on the injury list, while Todibo, Murillo, Prince and Vermaelen are left out. Carles Aleñá will continue to wear the number 26 until the end of this competition.

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