Barcelona vs Liverpool predictions: Three key battles
With the La Liga title done and dusted, the Champions League the last remaining hurdle in the race for Barcelona’s treble and that makes things even more complicated for Liverpool. The Reds are battling Manchester City for the Premier League title, with just one point separating the two sides.
However, that hasn’t affected their Champions League hopes, with Liverpool in the semi-final. Yet the fact that they face Barcelona in the penultimate stage of the Champions League makes it so much tougher and at the same time, it should be a great match to watch.
These are two of Europe’s best footballing sides in the Champions League. They’re tied with five Champions League trophies to their name, with a chance to make it six.
Here are three key battles that could decide the outcome of this game:
Fabinho vs Ivan Rakitic
This season hasn’t seen the best of Ivan Rakitic but the Croatian’s hustle and bustle style of play has always been evident. Forever running with or without the ball, his ability is undeniable and so is his work ethic, which will make Fabinho’s job that much harder.
The Brazilian has become Jurgen Klopp’s anchor in midfield from the moment he arrived and played a big part in both the round of 16 and the quarter-final clashes.
The battle between the two could effectively make or break the game, and the fact that it’s at Camp Nou could make an even bigger difference.
Mohamed Salah vs Jordi Alba
Jordi Alba is amongst the best in his position but the Spaniard has one tiny problem. He loves getting forward and that should give Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah a lot of space. The Egyptian has a lot of speed to burn and he loves doing that time after time.
He will be afforded a lot of space, especially on the counter. Expect Barcelona to dominate possession as usual and that does allow the Liverpool front-three to use their searing pace on the counter.
For Salah, and more importantly Liverpool, the space left by Jordi Alba on the left wing will be a weakness they really need to exploit. That being said, the Spaniard is no slouch himself and does have enough in his locker to stop the Liverpool front-man.
Like Fabinho vs Rakitic, the Alba vs Salah battle is another that might just end up deciding the game for either side.
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Luis Suarez vs Virgil Van Dijk
The return of the prodigal son, the Luis Suarez vs Virgil Van Dijk battle will make an immense difference to the game. The Uruguayan may not be at the peak of his powers anymore but he still remains one of the best and could prove to make a big difference.
His specialisation, other than scoring goals, is pulling defenders out of position. This allows others to run into the space that has been created and that is something that Van Dijk will have to keep an eye out for.
Of course, given that the Dutchman is the PFA Players’ Player of the year and one of the best in the world, few problems should arise for the Catalans. But when you are facing a double team consisting of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, there are always bound to be a few problems.