Liverpool still have reasons to hope ahead of return with Barcelona

Liverpool may be 12/1 to reach the Champions League final after Nou Camp defeat but their bold display and Barcelona’s collapse against Roma last year give hope ahead of Anfield return

  • Liverpool have a mountain to climb following 3-0 first-leg loss to Barcelona
  • But their tactics and approach were absolutely spot on in the Nou Camp
  • Jurgen Klopp’s side enjoyed more possession and created more openings
  • A similar performance at Anfield would surely see them score a few goals
  • Barcelona chucked away a three-goal lead against Roma just last season
  • It offers a glimmer of hope for Liverpool fans ahead of Tuesday night’s return 

After a humbling evening in the Nou Camp, it may appear that Liverpool’s dreams of winning the Champions League this season are over.

They were put to the sword by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and their Barcelona team-mates in Wednesday night’s semi-final first leg, the newly-crowned Spanish champions taking a 3-0 lead in the tie.

Yet the scoreline really didn’t reflect the story of the game and though Liverpool can now be found at 20/1 outsiders to win the Champions League with the bookmakers, surely some hope remains?

It was a chastening night for Liverpool as they lost 3-0 to Barcelona in the semi-final first leg

It was a chastening night for Liverpool as they lost 3-0 to Barcelona in the semi-final first leg

Liverpool were mauled by Lionel Messi, whose two goals took the game away from them

Liverpool were mauled by Lionel Messi, whose two goals took the game away from them

One source of optimism is the way Jurgen Klopp’s side took on Barcelona without a trace of fear or trepidation on Wednesday night.

They were in contention throughout, counter-attacking with confidence and creating chances. Indeed, they achieved the unusual feat of having more possession (52 per cent to 48 per cent) than Barcelona in their own backyard.

Remarkably, they also had more shots than Barcelona (15 to 12) and more passes (547 to 510). The stats certainly did not indicate such a one-sided scoreline and only emphasise the brilliance of Messi in taking the game away from them.

Really, Liverpool should have scored at least once. Mohamed Salah struck the post late on after Roberto Firmino had seen his shot cleared off the line.

It’s pretty much inconceivable that Liverpool won’t score at Anfield if they create a similar number of quality openings.

Liverpool were agonisingly close to an away goal when Mohamed Salah struck the post

Liverpool were agonisingly close to an away goal when Mohamed Salah struck the post

It's inconceivable Liverpool won't score at Anfield if they create a similar number of chances

It’s inconceivable Liverpool won’t score at Anfield if they create a similar number of chances

Their tactics and approach were actually spot on and ultimately only their finishing let them down. Consequently, they are now 12/1 to reach the final.

The question is whether they can score early and create an attacking storm, aided by a famously passionate atmosphere, on Tuesday to claw their way back into contention.

Though trying to come back from a three-goal deficit against Barcelona in a Champions League tie seems impossible, there is a very recent precedent to draw strength from.

Only last season, in the quarter-finals, nobody gave Roma much of a prayer after they lost 4-1 to Barcelona in the Nou Camp.

However, goals by Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas in the return leg, coupled with a resolute defensive performance, completed a sensational turnaround.

Messi and Barcelona surrendered a three-goal first leg advantage against Roma last season

Messi and Barcelona surrendered a three-goal first leg advantage against Roma last season

Kostas Manolas headed what proved to be Roma's winner as they came back from 4-1 behind

Kostas Manolas headed what proved to be Roma’s winner as they came back from 4-1 behind

Second leg odds 

12/1 – Liverpool to reach the Champions League final

16/1 – Liverpool to win second leg 3-0 and force extra time

20/1 – Liverpool to win this season’s Champions League 

Source: Oddschecker 

It proved that Barcelona can be fallible when the flow of momentum is so relentlessly against them.

And, as Liverpool proved in subsequently thrashing Roma 5-2 in the first leg of the semi-final, they are a far better side than the Italians.

Roma’s comeback is just one of two occasions in the history of the Champions League when a side has come back from three goals behind to advance in a two-legged tie.

The other came in the 2003-04 quarter-finals when Deportivo La Coruna lost their first leg 4-1 to AC Milan in the San Siro only to win the return 4-0 in Spain.

Another red hot Anfield atmosphere is required if Liverpool are to make it to the final

Another red hot Anfield atmosphere is required if Liverpool are to make it to the final

And, of course, there is one precedent of a team prevailing from four goals down in a Champions League tie.

That was achieved by Barcelona, who lost 4-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the 2016-17 round of 16, only to win the return leg 6-1 courtesy of an astonishing late show.

So while the odds are stacked against Liverpool, it isn’t as though such miracles haven’t been performed before.


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