Barcelona Find Attack To Be Best Form Of Defence Against Liverpool5 min read
It’s fair to say that the Champions League semi-final first leg between Barcelona and Liverpool certainly lived up to the hype.
In front of the biggest crowd of the season at the Camp Nou, the Catalans took their chances when it mattered and head to Anfield with a 3-0 advantage.
It’s not an insurmountable lead if the Reds get an early goal and Barca play like they did against Roma last season – another European tie in which they held a three-goal lead going into the second leg – but if the Blaugrana can make their attacks count on the night, one away goal should be sufficient to see them into the final.
On Wednesday, Liverpool certainly had a number of clear-cut chances to score a goal, but a mixture of great defence, luck and, unusually wayward finishing from the likes of Mane and Salah contributed to their loss.
Indeed, when Barca sat back and allowed their visitors to dictate, Liverpool looked very, very dangerous indeed.
Mindful of their pace in behind, and how Villarreal had made them look silly when playing a higher line just a few weeks ago, it wasn’t that often that Gerard Pique was marshalling the troops up the pitch.
However, by so doing it allowed Liverpool to press high and sustained, often forcing the Blaugrana into elementary mistakes.
🗣️ 'Liverpool are arguably the better team but they don't have Lionel Messi'
🤯 Lionel Messi stole the show. Again.
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) May 1, 2019
Misplaced passes, mistimed tackles… it happened on more occasions than Ernesto Valverde would surely have liked, and the hosts were a much more threatening proposition when on the front foot themselves.
Working across the full expanse of the Camp Nou pitch, one of the widest in Europe, Barcelona made use of the gaps that routinely opened up when Virgil Van Dijk was moved out of position.
That’s nine goals conceded by his teams when the Dutchman has played at this venue, and he’ll not be overly happy with the way that two of the three goals were conceded given he was static as first Suarez, and then Messi were much more alive to the possibilities.
As long as Barcelona get to work with the same intensity that they showed later in the second half particularly, they can make it another very difficult night for a Liverpool side that could still be challenging for the Premier League title just a few days later.
Allow them a sniff of success in front of goal, however, and they’re more than capable of putting Barca to the sword. Manchester City and Roma in last season’s Champions League knockout stages will attest to that.
The Catalans remain firm favourites to progress, and despite Ernesto Valverde being a cautious coach his side must look to end this tie as a contest in the early stages.