8 May 2019
Severely weakened by the absence of Mohamed Salah, Liverpool will face-off Barcelona at Anfield for the return leg of their Champions League semi-final tie.
The hosts’ chances of breaking into their second successive CL final declined drastically following a 3-0 fiasco at Camp Nou last week. Still, the Reds go into this meeting off the back of a 3-2 PL away win over Newcastle United, which was their 11th victory in the last 12 competitive outings (L1). What’s more, the Merseysiders have gone from strength to strength since a 2-1 home loss to Chelsea in the EFL Cup back in September, racking up an outstanding 19-game unbeaten home run across all competitions (W16, D3). Additionally, all eight of Liverpool’s home triumphs in 2019 have seen them score over 1.5 match goals while five of those wins have been accompanied by a clean sheet. Another encouraging fact for Jurgen Klopp is that his players have managed to preserve a clean slate in all four of their previous CL home fixtures.
Meanwhile, the Catalans seem to be on the verge of securing their first CL final since the 2014-15 campaign, which is fully deserved as they remain the only team that has yet to sustain a loss in the ongoing CL campaign (W8, D3). Notably, La Liga giants have conceded just one goal in five CL knockout-stage games, scoring 12 in the process. Ernesto Valverde’s choice to rest his entire starting lineup saw the Blaugrana suffer a 2-0 LL away loss to Celta Vigo at the weekend, which was the first time since early April that Barcelona allowed over 1.5 match goals. Before that, Marc-Andre ter Stegen has kept seven clean sheets in eight competitive games, including three CL fixtures. Still, Barca have endured mixed fortunes in their past five away clashes across all competitions (W2, D2, L1), with four of those matches featuring under 2.5 goals.
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