Liverpool are on the edge of greatness as we head into the final few games of the season – with a memorable Premier League and Champions League double still well within their reach.
The Reds were ahead of schedule last season when they reached the Champions League final, and even then were unlucky that Loris Karius suffered the mother of all stage-frights to gift Real Madrid a 3-1 win.
But if last season’s run to the final was something of a surprise, Liverpool would be very much at home there this season. Jurgen Klopp’s side have strolled to the semi-finals this term, despite also having a high-intensity title race to balance. Just a point behind a Manchester City team that is up there with the great modern sides, Liverpool are undoubtedly one of the very best in Europe themselves.
The challenge now is for Klopp and Liverpool to show they belong at this level, with Barcelona a huge test but not an impossible one. That will no doubt be reflected in some of the odds being offered on the Reds right now, though a little help from betting promo codes can still help you win big.
One of the most important things the LFC manager can do for Wednesday night’s trip to the Nou Camp is be bold, rather than reverting to the cautious midfield of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum that he’s used in a number of big games this season.
Klopp used that trio against Real Madrid last season and, despite Karius playing a big role in the defeat, they never really got a hold of the game against seasoned maestros like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, whose superior use of the ball ultimately worked through that more defensive-minded midfield three anyway, while Liverpool lacked craft to break their opponents down when they got on the ball.
The Merseyside giants will be up against something similar against Barcelona this week, with Ernesto Valverde perhaps most likely to go with Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Arthur, with Arturo Vidal as an option too.
Clearly, Liverpool can’t go all-out attack against this Barca side or they’d be destroyed, but there’s a balance to be struck, and it won’t be found by simply attempting to nullify three such creative midfield players.
Klopp also used the Henderson-Milner-Wijnaldum combination in the defeat to Manchester City this season, while Fabinho was in for Milner for a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
The German tactician also went for those three away to Bayern Munich, but won the game when Fabinho replaced the injured Henderson. Klopp has not tended to risk Naby Keita for these games, but there’s little to justify that cautious thinking.
The Guinea international has really come into form recently after a slow start at Anfield, and is the kind of player you pay big money for in order to play in big games like this. He has the quality to give Busquets and co. a bit more to think about than someone like Henderson ever will, while Fabinho and Wijnaldum can combine the defensive work rate with the quality going forward.
With a front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, you want players who can give them the ball. It’s vital Liverpool play to their strengths here and don’t allow themselves to be over-awed by the occasion as they were against Real Madrid.
You don’t get to 91 points in the Premier League and to a European semi-final without being a good side. Barcelona have as much to fear from them as the other way round – it’s time for Liverpool to show it.