Champions League Semifinals - FC Barcelona vs. Liverpool FC

By  Jonathan Willis

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Champions League Semifinals

Two European titans will square off for a spot in the Champions League Final on Wednesday when FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC begin their two leg clash. Barcelona have been dominant for nearly two decades, and they have continually been among the kings of Europe. Meanwhile, Liverpool have been largely up and down since their glory days in the 1970s and 1980s, and they are just now hitting their peak once more. Liverpool nearly won the Champions League Final last year, and they were outplaying Real Madrid until Mo Salah separated his shoulder after a questionable Sergio Ramos tackle.

Champions League Semifinals Betting Odds at

FC Barcelona -131
Liverpool FC +319
Draw +293
Over/Under 3

Odds Analysis

To make another deep run in the Champions League, Liverpool had to survive some harrowing tests. They were placed in the group of death, and somehow they overcame losing all three of their road games to beat out Napoli for a berth in the knockout rounds. They were done no favors at that point either, being drawn against Bayern Munich in the Round of 16. After a scoreless draw in the first leg at Anfield, they needed a result on the road and grabbed one with a 3-1 win in Bavaria. After that victory, Liverpool were finally given a favorable draw and cruised past Porto in the quarterfinals.

Barcelona had a much easier path to the Champions League semifinals. After some devastating exits in previous years, they barely appeared tested at any step of the way. They didn’t drop a match in a group that included Internazionale and Tottenham Hotspur, winning the group with a 4-2-0 record. From there, they crushed Lyon in the second leg in the Round of 16 before meeting Manchester United in the quarterfinals. The Red Devils fought valiantly in the first leg despite losing 1-0, and the Blaugrana showed their class with a 3-0 blowout in the second leg that wasn’t that close.

Key Injuries

Neither team has too many injuries to report. Barcelona are only set to be without Rafinha, and he has been out for the last few months after tearing his MCL at the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have two reserves and an occasional starter injured. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has yet to play this season and is doubtful, while Adam Lallana plays sparingly and is listed as questionable. Fabinho is considered questionable, but Jurgen Klopp might not start him even if he is fully healthy.

Matchup to Watch

The big question here is whether or not Liverpool can find a way to stop Lionel Messi. Messi has been on a tear this year, and he has ripped both La Liga and the Champions League apart. Domestically, he has an absurd 33 goals in 31 matches, and he has essentially locked up the Golden Boot already as the next closest person is teammate Luis Suarez with 21 goals. Messi also has 10 goals and three assists in eight Champions League games, as he and Suarez have continually picked apart opposing back lines.

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk will be key to slowing down Messi, as well as midfielders Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita. It’s hard to imagine anyone shutting down a devastating combination like Messi and Suarez though.

Free Soccer Betting Pick

I love Jurgen Klopp, and I think he will eventually lead Liverpool to a Champions League title, but not this time. Barcelona are too strong in too many areas, and they have the ultimate difference maker in Lionel Messi playing at an insanely high level. I see Barcelona winning this match by multiple goals and forcing Liverpool into a bad spot in the second leg.

Champions League Prediction: FC Barcelona 2, Liverpool FC 0

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