Barcelona vs Liverpool: Three key battles that will decide Champions League semi-final clash
Barcelona have already wrapped up the LaLiga title and a treble is still very much in sights for the Catalan club.
While Liverpool are still on the hunt for the double with the Premier League title still within reach, although increasingly unlikely.
Both sides are littered with incredible talent, with the Blaugrana boasting the world’s best player Lionel Messi and Liverpool one of the world’s best defenders in Virgil van Dijk.
It is a mouthwatering tie for the neutral, but what are the key battles that could decide the outcome?
Ahead of the match – which you can listen to live on talkSPORT, we have identified three clashes that could determine where the tie is won and lost.
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Lionel Messi vs Andrew Robertson
Lionel Messi has once again been sensational this season, netting an incredible 46 goals in all competitions.
He was on the scoresheet again on the weekend as Barca sealed the LaLiga title – his tenth in the famous blue and red striped shirt.
And the Argentine also leads the way for goals in Europe this season (10).
Andy Robertson faces his most daunting challenge yet in a Liverpool shirt to deal with Messi, who plays on the right side of a three-man forward line.
However, Robertson also poses a significant threat to Barcelona with his surging runs forward and brilliant delivery.
He racked up his 12th and 13th assists this season in his side’s victory over Huddersfield last week, becoming just the third defender in Premier League history to create over ten goals from defence.
The Scot also works tirelessly in the side, having run 88km in his nine appearances in the Champions League this season.
Sergio Busquets vs Jordan Henderson
The midfield battle in this match will be essential to the outcome of the tie, and whilst these two players may not directly influence each other, whoever performs better will likely influence the result more.
Busquets tops the passing charts in the competition this season, having completed 783 passes. The three-time winner of the competition has also ran more than any of his team-mates, having covered a huge 101.7km.
Disrupting Busquets’ role in dictating the tempo of the game could be crucial if Liverpool are to be successful at Camp Nou – and Henderson, in his new role, could be the player to put the pressure on him in the middle of the park.
The Englishman has been playing in a more advanced role in recent matches – and he provided a brilliant assist for Sadio Mane against Huddersfield last week.
Jordi Alba vs Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah is now back to his best for the Reds and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
He has five goals in his last six matches and now leads the Premier League scoring charts (21).
He will face up against the pacy Jordi Alba in what will be a fascinating clash.Alba has the most assists in the competition this season (4) and just like Robertson also poses a significant attacking threat from the left.
No player in Ernersto Valverde’s side have made more crosses into the box in the tournament (25).
Source: SportsLatest TS