BARCELONA – FC Barcelona is set to host Liverpool on Wednesday with hearts set on making its first Champions League final in four years.
The last time Barcelona was in a CL final was back in 2015, when the Spanish La LIga side defeated the Italian club Juventus 3-1 at the Olympiastadion Berlin stadium in the German capital to hoist Barcelona’s fifth CL trophy.
Head coach Ernesto Valverde will have a complete team ready for Liverpool with the exception of Rafinha, who has been out for the least seven months with a ruptured cruciate.
Valverde’s team is better rested than ever ahead of the Liverpool clash. The coach sat his Argentine superstar forward Lionel Messi out for the first half of Saturday’s Levante match, giving the famed team captain a chance to preserve his energy levels.
The only uncertainty for the coach is who to play alongside Messi and Luis Suarez in attack. He has a choice between Philippe Coutinho of Brazil or France striker Ousmane Dembele.
Barcelona has gone undefeated at home in the last 31 matches of the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Liverpool will take part in Wednesday’s game while also engaged in a close fight for the Premier League title.
In order to take the double, Jurgen Klopp’s men must not only overcome Barcelona but must win the rest of their league games and hope PL leader Manchester City slip up along the way.
City’s refusal to lose has left Liverpool with only two games in which that can happen.
The good news for Klopp is that the English side’s forward Roberto Firmino, who did not take part in the game against Huddersfield over the weekend due to a muscular problem, seems to have recovered and is set to play in the CL match against Barcelona.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will take part in the Barcelona clash and both are enjoying a run of good luck, with 21 and 20 goals, respectively, in the Premier League, which makes it likely that one of them will be in possession of the vaunted Premier League’s Golden Boot at the end of the season.
Liverpool’s goalkeeper Alisson Becker is also in good form after the 5-0 win over Huddersfield, which marked his 20th unbeaten match this season – the same number of clean sheets as famed Spain goalie Pepe Reina when he played for Liverpool in the 2005/2006 season.