Liverpool have a mountain to climb in their second leg clash with Barcelona - Tom Carnduff takes a look at the betting and fancies James Milner to play his part for the hosts.
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Liverpool v Barcelona
The Reds have a mountain to climb if they are to make a second successive final, with the LaLiga champions running out 3-0 winners in the first leg.
To make matters worse, Liverpool will be without star men Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. An already difficult task has been made a lot harder and it's no surprise to see Barcelona 1/50 to progress to the final.
Lionel Messi stole the show again last week with a wonderful free-kick from distance leaving Alisson helpless. On balance, Jurgen Klopp will feel that his side were a touch unlucky not to grab an away goal.
It could have been more though. Ousmane Dembele wasted an easy chance in the dying minutes of the game, the commentary team stating that could have been the tie over, despite the feeling that it already is with the current aggregate score.
Not only do they have to score four at some point across the evening to win the tie, Liverpool have to somehow try and keep this extremely talented Barcelona attack quiet.
Without an away goal, every Barcelona goal equates to two more needed for Liverpool. On probability, the Reds are going to have to score at least five tonight in what would be one of their most memorable European nights.
They can take some confidence from their performance at Camp Nou last week, although there's just too much to do.
The situation doesn't suit Liverpool. While they have attacking qualities, the longer the tie goes on and the more they push for goals, the more they'll leave themselves exposed at the back.
Barca have speed in attack and can break forward with pace. We're expecting them to score, and you can't rule out a strike late into the game as Liverpool continue to ask questions.
The best bet for this game comes in the stats market. James Milner should line up in his usual midfield position and the price (5/2) available on him having one or more shots on target is worth taking.
He had two, the most of any Liverpool player, in the first leg and he has the ability to hit the target from distance. Those shots came from outside the area and it could be the same here.
Milner is also the man tasked with taking penalties and there's always an increased possibility of one being awarded with VAR involved. It's a best price of 13/2 that he finds the net, but it's better to play the safe option of the shorter price on a shot hitting the target.
In terms of the result, it's a difficult one to call based on the situation and Liverpool missing two star men. With a near fully-fit squad, with Firmino and Salah involved, you'd back the Reds for victory.
The two absentees change the picture though and that's why both clubs are priced at around 8/5 for the win. The Asian Handicap stands at 0 too so the money is split between the two sides.
Instead, with Liverpool needing goals and Barcelona's ability to break forward and score when the opportunity presents itself, it may be worth backing over goals and the 13/8 on more than 3.5 is worthy of consideration.
Score prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Barcelona (Sky Bet odds: 11/1)
Best bet: James Milner 1+ shots on target at 5/2
- Liverpool are looking to become only the third team in the history of the European Cup/Champions League to come from three goals down after the first leg of a semi-final and progress to the final, after Panathinaikos in 1970-71 and Barcelona in 1985-86.
- On only three previous occasions has a team been eliminated from a Champions League knockout tie having won the first leg by three or more goals, with the last occasion being Barcelona against Roma in last season’s quarter-final (4-1 first leg, 0-3 second leg).
- Barcelona have won both of their previous Champions League visits to Anfield against Liverpool, winning 3-1 in November 2001 and 1-0 in March 2007; Barcelona are the only the away side to win more than once at Anfield in the Champions League.
- In all European competition, Liverpool have only lost one of their 18 home semi-finals at Anfield (W14 D3 L1), losing 0-1 to a Billy Bremner goal against Leeds United in the 1970-71 Fairs Cup.
- Barcelona have won two away Champions League games in England this season, winning 4-2 at Spurs and 1-0 at Manchester United – no side has ever won three away games in England in a major European competition in a single season.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 19 home matches in all competitions (W16 D3 L0), only enjoying a longer run once under Jürgen Klopp - a run of 25 between January 2016 and January 2017.
- In the first leg, Liverpool became the 32nd different Champions League opponent Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored against – only former Real Madrid and Schalke striker Raúl has scored against more (33).
- Liverpool haven’t conceded a Champions League goal at Anfield in 367 minutes, since Kylian Mbappé scored for Paris Saint-Germain in September; the Reds haven’t kept five consecutive home clean sheets in the European Cup/Champions League since October 1984.
- Barcelona have won just five of their last 18 away Champions League knockout ties (W5 D4 L9), but four of those five victories have come in England (two vs Man City, one vs Arsenal and Man Utd), with the other against PSG in April 2015.
- Lionel Messi has 12 Champions League goals for Barcelona this season, just two shy of his best ever tally in a single season, scoring 14 in 2011-12; the Argentinian has netted more goals against English teams than any other player in the competition’s history (26), including six this season.
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