Football Predictions

Barcelona vs Liverpool predictions, preview & expected XIs

By William Eldridge

Published: 17:19, 30 April 2019

Liverpool travel to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday night as they try and negotiate their way into a second successive final.

The Reds know they will play the second leg with the full support of Anfield behind them but will do well to come away with a positive result against the La Liga champions.

Read on for Barcelona vs Liverpool live stream options, team news, predicted XIs, stats and TV channel info.

When is Barcelona vs Liverpool?

Competition: Champions League

Venue: Nou Camp

Date: Wednesday, 1 May

Kick-off: 20:00 BST

Where can I watch live?

UK residents can watch Liverpool’s game against Barcelona on BT Sport 2, channel 414 on Sky and channel 528 for Virgin Media users. BT Sport subscribers can also watch the game online at sport.bt.com and via their BT Sport app.

Head-to-head

Surprisingly, these two giants have only faced each other eight times in European competition. Barca have the edge in the Champions League – winning two of four ties – but the Reds are undefeated against Barca in four Europa League – formally Uefa Cup – matches.

The previous two fixtures took place in 2007 with both sides winning a game each in the Champions League 1st knockout round, though Liverpool progressed on away goals.

Barcelona wins: 2 Draws: 3 Liverpool wins: 3

Match preview

These two clubs can say that their season has been a success even if this is the final round of fixtures in the Champions League they reach, but neither side will want to settle for that.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have produced some of the most impressive football seen across the globe in the last two seasons, impressively keeping both their Premier League and Champions League ambitions alive at such a late stage in the season.

Cruising past Bayern Munich is nothing to be sneered at, while a convincing job on FC Porto – for the second season running – has set up this tasty encounter.

For Barcelona, they are just a club who don’t know how to not win silverware, having already bagged themselves the La Liga title, miles ahead of rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid who can both only look on in jealousy.

The Catalan side can seal a famous treble if they can get their hands on the Champions League and the Copa del Rey – they face Valencia in the final – but know Liverpool won’t make it easy for them.

Barcelona made Manchester United – who famously took down Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the competition – look like amateurs and they will be looking to do the same against this particular Premier League side.

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How can Klopp set up to stop Messi?

Jurgen Klopp doesn’t need telling that a trip to Barcelona is going to be a slightly tough affair. It isn’t made any easier by the inclusion of football legend Lionel Messi who has yet again produced top performances throughout this campaign.

The 31-year-old has scored 10 Champions League goals in just eight appearances for his side, including four goals in two games against PSV, two goals against fellow Champions League semi-finalists Tottenham Hotspur and another double in Barcelona’s 3-0 defeat of Manchester United, making him the competitions top scorer this season.

The forward has also provided three assists for his teammates who, along with Messi, have scored 23 goals in the Champions League this season – second only to Manchester City (30).

So how do Liverpool stop him? Quite simply, if Messi is playing to his maximum ability, you can’t.

However, the Reds do have players who can keep pace with the Argentina international, with the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson able to cope with the fitness demands marking Messi needs.

Liverpool will need to work as a unit to close the space, limit Messi’s impact on the ball and pray to the footballing gods that Messi isn’t in his usual scintillating form.

Will Coutinho and Suarez come back to haunt Liverpool?

Not only do Liverpool have to contend with the attacking abilities of arguably the greatest player in the world but they will also be coming up against two of their former favourite sons.

In recent years, both Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho have made the switch from Merseyside to the La Liga side, in the pursuit of more titles and personal honours.

Suarez has long-established himself as a truly great Barca striker, netting 22 goals in 31 La Liga games but astonishingly he is yet to score in eight Champions League games this season. Will he end his poor European form by scoring the winner against his old employers?

Coutinho hasn’t exactly broken through as Barcelona’s latest sweetheart since his move to the club in early 2018. He did score a great goal against Manchester United – much to the joy of the Liverpool fans – but his celebration hasn’t helped his cause in Catalonia.

Surely his inconsistent form would be forgotten if he was the main difference for Barcelona in this crucial round of fixtures against the club who allowed him to flourish?

Van Dijk vs Messi – the defining battle?

What a battle this will be.

The newly-crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year vs the greatest Barcelona player of all-time come up against each other in a battle that could determine which way this tie slides.

Messi has the most shots on target (20) in the Champions League this season but with Virgil van Dijk’s help, the Reds have kept four clean sheets in the competition to date.

The Dutch centre-back can also play his part in starting Liverpool attacks, with his passing accuracy currently sitting at an impressive 87.7% throughout their European campaign.

Averaging 4.1 aerial duel wins per match may not help Liverpool due to Barcelona’s preference to keeping the ball on the floor, but Van Dijk has proven that he is more than capable at adapting his game and battling with some of the world’s best forwards.

Team news

Barcelona have no injury concerns or suspensions heading into this fixture, allowing a full squad to pick from.

Talented forward Roberto Firmino is a doubt for Liverpool, with the extent of his injury made unclear. Fabinho and Adam Lallana may also miss out but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in contention.

Predicted Line-ups

1. Coutinho over Dembele

Earlier in the season, Ousmane Dembele edged ahead of Coutinho in the Barcelona pecking order. However, recent injuries have seen the former Liverpool man given the opportunity to start.

It is expected that his performance and goal against Manchester United may keep the Brazilian in the starting line-up for this first leg.

Predicted Barcelona XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Alba, Pique, Lenglet, Roberto; Arthur, Busquets, Rakitic; Coutinho, Suarez, Messi​

2. The return of Firmino

Although a doubt for the match, Klopp has hinted that the striker may be able to return in time to face Barcelona Wednesday night.

Daniel Sturridge – who stepped in last Friday in Liverpool’s 5-0 victory over relegated Huddersfield Town – is expected to drop to the bench.

There could also be a start for Naby Keita, as part of Klopp’s three-man midfield with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson almost guaranteed to play.

Predicted Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Allison; Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Mane, Firmino, Salah

3. Origi is the man

In contrast, the Independent believes that Firmino’s injury will hamper his participation in this week’s clash, meaning Klopp has a decision to make about who joins both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane up front for the Reds.

Rather than utilise Sturridge, it is predicted that Klopp may opt for Divock Origi to provide some much-needed energy into this Liverpool performance.

The Independent have also backed Georginio Wijnaldum to start in midfield alongside Henderson and Fabinho.

Independent‘s predicted Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Origi

Squawka Prediction

What a tough match for Liverpool. Barcelona are in great form and their front three are more than capable of bettering what the Reds can do at the other end. As soon as the first goal hits the back of the net, expect this tie to fly. Barcelona will win this win but Liverpool will grab themselves a vital away goal to help their cause in the return leg at Anfield. Barcelona 3-1 Liverpool