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1- Valverde opts for Vidal
Ernesto Valverde decided to go with a midfield made up of Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal, even though many had predicted that the latter would be starting on the bench.
Liverpool were always going to a tough, fast-moving and physical contest, and Vidal was the answer with a tireless 95 minutes on the field, winning 50-50 balls, supporting his team-mates and making his presence felt in so many positive ways. Great thinking, Valverde.
2- You shall not pass!
Some pundits are saying that 3-0 may not be an accurate reflection of what happened on the pitch. Liverpool plugged away time and again, especially early in the second half, and Ter Stegen made three key saves when a goal would have changed the script completely.
Gerard Piqué and Clément Lenglet cleared the ball from danger on countless occasions, and although Mo Salah’s speed was a constant headache, they managed to keep him from causing any serious damage, and the same goes for Sadio Mané.
Many will wonder how on earth Liverpool failed to get on the scoresheet tonight, but the credit has to go to the men who made sure they didn’t. ‘Dodgy at the back’ they were saying in the English press. Hmmm…
From Luis Suárez and Leo Messi all the way back to the defence and keeper, Barça kept it tight and no matter how much Liverpudlian balrog kept charging, the Barça wizards kept the danger at bay.
3- Messi again!
And just when Barça looked like they had lost all control of the game, out came the wildcard that has saved the day on so many occasions before. Lionel Messi. Liverpool couldn’t find a way to do it… But the greatest player in the world could.
The first goal came from a team move started by his run, although to finish it all he had to do was walk Suárez’s rebound into the net. But what a second! A free kick from around 35 yards out, only a man like Messi can find the top corner from a place like that. A ‘wonder-strike’ said Jurgen Klopp after the game, and that’s exactly what it was.
Impossible for Alisson. 3-0. Two more goals to take his all-time tally for Barça up to 600. The crowning glory of a night to remember at Camp Nou!
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