Barcelona. The Camp Nou. Lionel Messi. Luis Suarez.
It can easily be argued that this is a daunting task for Liverpool this evening. Jurgen Klopp will have to take his side into the home of a European giant, in every sense of the phrase, and look to get a good enough result to take back to Anfield.
Now, the Reds could easily be sleepwalking right into Barcelona’s clutches if they adopt their usual gameplan, which is extremely effective nine times out of ten – the high-intensity pressing game that Klopp loves could play right into Ernesto Valverde’s hands.
The Spanish champions love having the ball; they have averaged more possession of the ball than any other team in the competition this season. If you press them, they will just pass it around you. Liverpool cannot go gung-ho with their famous gegenpressing tactic, or they will get killed.
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So, something different is needed.
The Catalans found themselves on the end of an embarrassing 7-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich at this stage of the competition back in 2013.
The Bavarians pulled off the perfect game plan across two legs to get themselves into the final, where they eventually won the trophy after seeing off Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side at Wembley with a last-minute winner from Arjen Robben.
Whilst that will have been one of the worst evenings in Klopp’s career, he can take inspiration from 2013’s winners, due to the similarities of that side and his Liverpool team, and their qualities in attack.
Inside the Camp Nou back in 2013, Bayern let Barcelona have the ball, but were ruthless with it when they eventually got possession back.
The Germans always looked to hit the flanks as quickly as possible, where once they got it out wide, Franck Ribery and Robben tore Barcelona to pieces.
What are the similarities between the two sides, you ask? Liverpool’s wide men are of a similar vein to the aforementioned duo in Ribery and Robben. Sadio Mane, a right-footed winger, is a huge danger, who can cause massive problems by cutting in from the right, like Ribery did.
Mohamed Salah, a left-footed wide man playing on right, where he causes havoc when cutting inside. Remind you of anyone? Robben perhaps?
Liverpool wouldn’t be adverse to soaking up Barcelona’s pressure and then looking to quickly ping the ball out to Salah and Mane on the flanks – they rank eighth in the list of long balls played in the Champions League this season, suggesting they do have that in their armoury.
Bayern may have caused Klopp a whole world of misery back in 2013, but their game plan against Barcelona from back then could make his life a lot, lot easier tonight if executed properly.