UCL: Barca v Liverpool Preview
Barcelona and Liverpool each have five European Cups to their name, and are bidding to take a significant step towards a sixth as they meet for the first time in more than a decade – the teams’ third semifinal contest in Uefa club competition.
Barcelona are in the Uefa Champions League semifinals for the first time since winning their fifth European title four seasons ago, although they have won only two of their last five contests at this stage. Liverpool, meanwhile, have reached successive semifinals and will be seeking to extend an unbeaten sequence at the Camp Nou.
While Barcelona have won their last two games at Anfield, Liverpool are unbeaten in away games against Barcelona, recording two wins and two draws on their four previous visits.
This is the teams’ ninth fixture, six of the previous eight having come in a six-year period between 2001 and 2007. There has been little between the sides with three Liverpool wins and two for Barcelona, each team scoring six goals – although the English club have won all three two-legged contests on aggregate.
Liverpool were 2-1 winners over the two games in the clubs’ first tie, in the 1975/76 Uefa Cup semifinals. John Toshack scored the only goal of the first leg at the Camp Nou, and Phil Thompson’s 51st-minute goal at Anfield proved enough for progress despite Carles Rexach levelling on the night a minute later. The Reds went on to win the trophy, defeating Club Brugge in the final.
The clubs’ next meetings, in the 2000/01 Uefa Cup semifinals, also proved tight, Liverpool’s Gary McAllister scoring the only goal of the tie from the penalty spot in the 44th minute of the second leg at Anfield. Once again, Liverpool went on to win the competition that season, beating another Spanish side, Alavés, in the final.
Barcelona came out on top when the teams reconvened later that year in the Uefa Champions League second group stage, Patrick Kluivert, Fábio Rochemback and Marc Overmars overturning Michael Owen’s 27th-minute opener in a 3-1 win at Anfield. The game at the Camp Nou finished scoreless, both sides progressing to the quarterfinals, where Liverpool were eliminated by Bayer Leverkusen; Barcelona lost to Real Madrid in the last four.
Barça were also victorious on their most recent visit to Anfield, Eidur Gudjohnsen scoring the only goal in the 2006/07 Uefa Champions League round of 16 – but that was insufficient to repair the damage of a 2-1 first-leg defeat at the Camp Nou. Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise got the Liverpool goals after Deco had given the home side an early lead.
• Barcelona’s overall record in European Cup semifinals is W7 L8:
1959/60 L 2-6 Real Madrid (1-3 a, 1-3 h)
1960/61 W 1-0 replay Hamburg (1-0 h, 1-2 a)
1974/75 L 2-3 v Leeds United (1-2 a, 1-1 h)
1985/86 W 3-3, 5-4 penalties v IFK Göteborg (0-3 a, 3-0 h)
1993/94 W 3-0 Porto (3-0 h)
1999/2000 L 3-5 Valencia (1-4 a, 2-1 h)
2001/02 L 1-3 Real Madrid (0-2 h, 1-1 a)
2005/06 W 1-0 AC Milan (1-0 a, 0-0 h)
2007/08 L 0-1 Manchester United (0-0 h, 0-1 a)
2008/09 W 1-1 Chelsea, away goals (0-0 h, 1-1 a)
2009/10 L 2-3 Internazionale Milano (1-3 a, 1-0 h)
2010/11 W 3-1 Real Madrid (2-0 a, 1-1 h)
2011/12 L 2-3 Chelsea (0-1 a, 2-2 h)
2012/13 L 0-7 Bayern München (0-4 a, 0-3 h)
2014/15 W 5-3 Bayern München (3-0 h, 2-3 a)
*Barcelona advanced directly to the 1991/92 final as group winners.
Three of Barcelona’s eight semifinal defeats have therefore come against English opponents, with only one victory.
This is Barcelona’s 12th Uefa Champions League semifinal – fewer only than Real Madrid (13).
Barcelona have won 15 of their 25 two-legged ties with English clubs, including the last five. The 2012 semifinal defeat by Chelsea is the only reverse in their last nine contests, all in the Uefa Champions League knockout phase.
This is Barcelona’s fifth game against English opponents this season; they were 4-0 aggregate winners against Manchester United in the quarterfinals (1-0 away, 3-0 home) having taken four points off Tottenham Hotspur in the group stage (4-2 away, 1-1 home).
Those results make it one defeat in their last 15 European games against English clubs for Barça, who have won 11 of those fixtures.
Their overall home record against English clubs is W21 D11 L2, the two defeats both inflicted by Liverpool. They have been victorious in eight of the last ten at the Camp Nou (D2).
A 3-0 reverse at Roma in last season’s quarterfinal second leg – a defeat that ended their campaign on away goals, a third-successive last-eight elimination – is Barcelona’s sole loss in their last 21 Uefa Champions League fixtures (W13 D7). They beat Lyon 5-1 at home in the second leg of this season’s round of 16 and by the same aggregate scoreline.
Barcelona won both home games in last season’s knockout rounds, and are unbeaten in 13 knockout games at the Camp Nou (W11 D2), since a 3-0 loss to Bayern München in the 2012/13 semifinal second leg.
Ernesto Valverde’s side have won four of their five home games in this season’s Uefa Champions League, beating PSV Eindhoven 4-0 and Internazionale 2-0 before the 1-1 draw with Tottenham in the group stage.
Barcelona are unbeaten in 31 Uefa Champions League home matches, a run that started in September 2013 (W28 D3); the defeat of Lyon eclipsed the previous competition record of 29 set by Bayern München between March 1998 and April 2002.
Barcelona need one more goal to score 500 in the Uefa Champions League – a milestone reached by just one other club, Real Madrid.
Spanish champions for the 25th time – and third in four years – in 2017/18, Barcelona have been European champions on five occasions, most recently in 2015.
Barcelona are the only reigning domestic champions and the sole autumn group winners to have reached the semifinals. They are also the only undefeated team left in the competition (W7 D3).
• The Reds’ record in European Cup semifinals is W8 L2:
1964/65: L 3-4 Internazionale Milano (3-1 h, 0-3 a)
1976/77: W 6-1 Zürich (3-1 a, 3-0 h)
1977/78: W 4-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach (1-2 a, 3-0 h)
1980/81: W 1-1 Bayern München, away goals (0-0 h, 1-1 a)
1983/84: W 3-1 Dinamo Bucuresti (1-0 h, 2-1 a)
1984/85: W 5-0 Panathinaikos (4-0 h, 1-0 a)
2004/05: W 1-0 Chelsea (0-0 a, 1-0 h)
2006/07: W 1-1 Chelsea, 4-1 on pens (0-1 a, 1-0 h)
2007/08: L 3-4 aet Chelsea (1-1 h, 2-3 a)
2017/18: W 7-6 Roma (5-2 h, 2-4 a)
Victories against Bayern München in the round of 16 (3-1 aggregate) and Porto in the quarterfinals (6-1) this season mean Liverpool have won their last ten two-legged European ties, qualifying included. Their last defeat was on penalties in the 2014/15 Uefa Europa League round of 32 against Besiktas (1-0 home, 0-1 away).
This is Liverpool’s first two-legged tie against a Spanish club since a 3-1 aggregate defeat of Villarreal in the 2015/16 Uefa Europa League semifinals (0-1 away, 3-0 home). That gave the Reds the record W8 D2 in two-legged Uefa knockout ties with Spanish sides; it is three wins out of three in the European Cup.
Liverpool’s last contest against a Liga club came in last season’s Uefa Champions League final, a 3-1 loss against Real Madrid in Kyiv.
That win against Villarreal in the 2015/16 Uefa Europa League semifinal is Liverpool’s only success in their last eight fixtures against Spanish clubs (D2 L5) – a sequence that also includes the 2016 Uefa Europa League final loss to Sevilla.
Liverpool’s last trip to Spain bought a 3-3 draw at Sevilla in the 2017/18 group stage – a match in which they led 3-0 at halftime thanks to goals from Roberto Firmino (2) and Sadio Mané. That made it four games without a win away to Spanish sides (D1 L3), since a 1-0 victory at Real Madrid in the 2008/09 Uefa Champions League round of 16, although their overall record in Spain is W7 D5 L5.
The 3-1 win at Bayern in the round of 16 second leg ended Liverpool’s four-game run of European away defeats; they were 4-1 victors at Porto in the quarterfinal second leg. They lost all three away games in this season’s group stage, at Napoli (0-1), Crvena zvezda (0-2) and Paris Saint-Germain (1-2), and also went down 4-2 at Roma in last season’s semifinal second leg (7-6 agg). Jürgen Klopp’s side were six unbeaten (W4 D2) before losing in Rome.
The Reds have lost five of their last 12 European matches, all those defeats coming outside England, although they are unbeaten in their last five (W4 D1).
Links and Trivia
Luis Suárez (2014) and Philippe Coutinho (2018) both signed for Barcelona from Liverpool.
Suárez scored 69 goals in 110 Premier League matches for the Reds, including 31 in 33 in 2013/14 – his final season at Anfield. He was part of the side that won the English League Cup in 2011/12, and reached the FA Cup final the same season.
Coutinho was a Liverpool player between 2013 and 2018, scoring 41 goals in 152 Premier League appearances. He was in the team that reached the finals of the Uefa Europa League – losing to Sevilla – and the English League Cup in 2015/16.
• Have also played in England:
Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal 2009–14)
Gerard Piqué (Manchester United 2004–08)
Kevin-Prince Boateng (Tottenham 2007–09, Portsmouth 2009–10)
• Have played in Spain:
Fabinho (Real Madrid 2012/13)
Alberto Moreno (Sevilla 2010–14)
• International teammates:
Philippe Coutinho, Rafinha, Arthur & Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho (Brazil)
Ivan Rakitic & Dejan Lovren (Croatia)
Moussa Wagué & Sadio Mané (Senegal)
Thomas Vermaelen & Simon Mignolet, Divock Origi (Belgium)
Jasper Cillessen & Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands)
Lionel Messi has scored 24 goals in 32 matches against English clubs – more than he has managed against teams from any other country.
Marc-André ter Stegen made his 50th appearance in the Uefa Champions League, group stage to final, in the quarterfinal second leg.
Lionel Messi is top of this season’s Uefa Champions League goal charts with ten goals and is bidding to finish as the leading marksman for the sixth time. He last topped the standings jointly with Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar in 2014/15 but has not been first alone since 2011/12, when he won the prize for the fourth season in a row.
Barcelona are 22 games unbeaten in all competitions (W16 D6); they have won six of their last seven, beating Levante 1-0 on Saturday to secure their 26th Liga title with three games to spare. It is their fourth championship in five seasons and eighth in the last 11.
The 0-0 draw at Huesca on 13 April is the only time they have failed to score in 15 games in all competitions.
Barça have won their last eight fixtures at the Camp Nou, where they have lost once all season, a 4-3 defeat to Real Betis on 11 November. Their record otherwise is W21 D5, with no defeats in the last 18.
Barcelona have kept 12 clean sheets in their last 18 fixtures in all competitions.
Carles Aleña scored his first Liga goal since 2 December in a 2-0 win at Alavés on 23 April. Luis Suárez got the other from the penalty spot, his eighth goal in his last 14 games.
Messi is the Liga’s top scorer with 34 goals, including the title-clinching winner against Levante; he has 29 in his last 27 games for Barcelona and 17 in his last 16. He has 25 goals in 25 club games across all competitions in 2019.
Messi came on as a substitute to score the winner against Levante, his 24th Liga goal as a replacement – a record in the 21st century.
Rafinha was ruled out for up to six months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left leg in the second half of the 1-1 draw with Atlético Madrid on 24 November.
The Blaugrana, who have lifted the Copa del Rey in the last four seasons, have reached a sixth successive final and will play Valencia on 25 May at the Estadio Benito Villamarín in Seville.
Jean-Clair Todibo signed for Barcelona from Toulouse in January but is not in the Uefa Champions League squad; the club also agreed deals for Frenkie de Jong (Ajax) and Emerson (Atlético Mineiro) to join in the summer.
Liverpool are 19 matches unbeaten in all competitions (W14 D5), since a 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Wolves on 7 January.
They have won their last ten games, beating Huddersfield 5-0 at Anfield on Friday.
Sadio Mané has 11 goals in Liverpool’s last 12 matches, including two against Huddersfield.
Mohamed Salah also scored twice on Friday, making him the top scorer in this season’s Premier League with 21 goals, one more than Mané.
Naby Keïta scored after 15 seconds against Huddersfield, Liverpool’s fastest Premier League goal.
Andrew Robertson provided two assists against Huddersfield to give him 11 in this season’s Premier League, equalling the competition record for a defender set by Andy Hinchliffe (1994/95) and Leighton Baines (2010/11).
The Reds had kept five successive clean sheets before the 4-2 win against Burnley at Anfield on 10 March; having not managed one for five games before the quarterfinal first leg with Porto, they have now kept four in the last five.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last nine away games in all competitions (W6 D3), winning the last five. They have been beaten five times away from home this season.
Fabinho was taken off with concussion four minutes after coming on as a substitute in the 2-0 win at Cardiff on 21 April, and sat out the Huddersfield game.
Roberto Firmino missed Friday’s win against Huddersfield with a muscle problem.
Joe Gomez fractured his left leg midway through the first half of the 3-1 win at Burnley on 5 December; he underwent surgery in early February, and returned as a second-half substitute at Porto.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned as a second-half substitute on Friday having not played since suffering a serious knee injury in last season’s Uefa Champions League semifinal first leg against Roma on 24 April. He has also been added to the squad for this season’s knockout rounds.
Adam Lallana, who has not played since 17 March, has been carrying a muscle injury.
Liverpool have four representatives in the Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year 2018/19: Trent Alexander Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Robertson and Mané.
On 28 April Van Dijk was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year; Mané was also included in the six-man shortlist.
On 12 April former Liverpool captain Tommy Smith passed away aged 74. Smith spent 18 years at Anfield, winning four league titles and scoring in the club’s first European Cup final victory in 1977.