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Updated: 7 hours 12 min ago

Team news: Confirmed Liverpool line-up v Barcelona

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 18:41

Joe Gomez starts as Liverpool make four changes for this evening’s Champions League clash with FC Barcelona at Camp Nou.

The defender is handed a place in Jürgen Klopp’s XI for the semi-final, first-leg encounter for the first time since December.

Elsewhere, Joel Matip returns in defence, while James Milner and Fabinho are restored in midfield.

Roberto Firmino is on the bench following a recent muscle injury.

Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita, Mane, Salah.

Subs: Mignolet, Lovren, Firmino, Henderson, Shaqiri, Origi, Alexander-Arnold.

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Ryan Kent receives double Scottish Player of the Year nomination

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 15:41

Ryan Kent has been nominated for two accolades as part of this year's PFA Scotland Player of the Year Awards.

The winger's excellent form on loan at Rangers has been recognised with nominations for both the Premiership Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.

The 22-year-old - who moved to Ibrox in July in a season-long switch - has made 40 appearances in all competitions so far this term under the management of Steven Gerrard, scoring six goals.

The winners of the awards will be announced on May 5.

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Liverpool FC statement

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 11:44

Liverpool Football Club is working with Merseyside Police and the authorities in Spain, who are endeavouring to identify those involved in the incident.

Such behaviour is clearly totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

It would be inappropriate to comment further while the situation is ongoing other than to confirm the club will follow due process in any and all cases of this nature.

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LFC Foundation visits military veterans programme in Boston

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 10:26

LFC Foundation joined the Red Sox Foundation to visit a military veterans programme in Boston, USA, this week.

Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital programme, is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of service for veterans, service members and their families. 

The centre provides life-saving clinical care and support for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, co-occuring substance use disorder, family relationship challenges and other issues associated with military service. 

LFC Foundation staff met with clinicians at the centre to learn more about their programme and discuss LFC Foundation's own military veterans initiative.

Ten tickets for LFC’s pre-season game at Boston's Fenway Park stadium were also donated to the centre for patients to use.  

The Reds will take on Sevilla FC at the home of the Boston Red Sox on Sunday July 21 as part of their 2019-20 pre-season preparations.

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Missing Men: Barcelona 2007

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 10:17

Liverpool beat Barcelona 2-1 the last time the two clubs met at Camp Nou in the knockout stages of the Champions League, but can you remember the starting XI from that February evening in 2007?

Defending European champions Barca took the lead after just 14 minutes of the last-16 first-leg tie when Deco headed in Gianluca Zambrotta's cross. But as the hosts threatened to take control, the Reds showed the mettle that would eventually take them all the way to the final in Athens.

Manager Rafael Benitez boldly opted to go with a 4-4-2 formation against a side that contained the attacking talents of Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Xavi Hernandez and, from the bench, Andres Iniesta.

And, just before the break, his approach paid dividends as one of his two strikers struck an equaliser - Craig Bellamy connected with Steve Finnan's cross to squeeze a header through the arms of Victor Valdes.

Meanwhile, in defence, Benitez had decided to give Spanish right-back Alvaro Arbeloa his full Liverpool debut out of position at left-back. The Liverpool manager theorised his countryman could use his stronger right foot to deal with Messi as he cut inside from Barca's right flank.

It proved another masterstroke from the Reds boss as some sterling defensive work by the No.2 helped keep the game tied at 1-1 as time ticked away at Camp Nou.

Then, with 15 minutes to go, the decisive blow was struck. A blocked shot fell to Bellamy in the box, he looked goalward but instead passed to Riise, who fired it into the roof of the net from 14 yards to secure a famous win.

Bellamy was the star of the show on the night, but who else made up the first XI? Can you fill in the Missing Men below?

Click the Next button below to reveal the Missing Men...

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Barcelona v Liverpool: Live build-up to Champions League semi-final

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 09:33

Team news

So, what we do we know ahead of kick-off?

Roberto Firmino travelled with the 23-man Liverpool squad that set off for Barcelona yesterday, having missed the win over Huddersfield Town due to a slight muscle tear. Klopp intends to make a decision on the No.9's availability later today.

Fabinho also made the journey and is fully fit, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster are with the team in Spain, too.

Lionel Messi, who clinched the La Liga title for Barcelona on Saturday with a goal as a substitute, is ready to face Liverpool after being rested recently.

"Messi has been rested but we've had three league games within seven days, we've had the games with Manchester United and it's been a very heavy workload," said coach Ernesto Valverde.

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New Liverpool FC home kit - last chance to pre-order

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 09:30

Don't miss out on guaranteed delivery of the new 2019-20 Liverpool FC home kit on Thursday May 9, with pre-orders for launch still available.

The New Balance strip, which is dedicated to legendary manager Bob Paisley and features pinstripes on the shirt inspired by the 1982-83 campaign, was revealed in April.

And you can make sure you have the kit on release day, May 9, by pre-ordering right now before the deadlines listed below – and you’ll also receive a £10 LFC Retail voucher to use in June.

Thursday May 2 – 9am

Rest of the world
Russia

Sunday May 5 – 9am

USA
Europe
UK (Click and collect)

Monday May 6 – 9am

Channel Islands
Isle of Man
Isle of Wight
Scottish Highlands & Islands

Tuesday May 7 – 9am

UK (Standard and Collect+)

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The view from Barcelona: 'Klopp is a world-class manager'

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 07:00

Two of the most successful sides in the history of the European Cup meet on Wednesday night as Liverpool travel to Camp Nou to face fellow five-time winners Barcelona.

An eagerly anticipated two-legged Champions League semi-final stands between the pair and a chance to compete for a sixth title in this season's final in Madrid.

Barcelona head into the first leg having beaten Levante 1-0 on Saturday to secure a fourth La Liga title in five years, while Liverpool beat Huddersfield Town 5-0 on Friday night to continue their Premier League title tussle with Manchester City.

The Reds' Catalan opponents are chasing a treble having already booked a place in the final of the Copa del Rey, so what can we expect from Ernesto Valverde's side on Wednesday night?

We caught up with BarcaBlog writer and The Barcelona Podcast co-host Francesc Tomas (@TheBarcelonaPod) to find out...

Barcelona clinched the Spanish league title at the weekend, but where does this current side rank amongst the teams of the recent past?

There's no doubt that the current Barca side are one of the best in history if you just look at the results. However, Barca fans are really demanding and romantic as well, so, it's always going to be a comparison back to the dream team from Johan Cruyff in the 1990s and also Pep Guardiola's fantastic era. And even the MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) era with Luis Enrique in charge.

All those three teams are ahead of the current Barca, because their football was far more spectacular. With Barca fans always having attacking football at the heart of their feelings, I think the current team ranks fourth behind those three.

Do you think the fact Barcelona have already wrapped up La Liga gives them an advantage in Europe?

I think it absolutely gives them an advantage. Barca have more time to prepare between matches, are able to play the 'B team' over the weekend, or players that are not always regulars, and give time to the likes of Arturo Vidal or Samuel Umtiti - players that could potentially make the team against Liverpool. That can only be a positive.

How does Valverde like his team to play?

He's a very conservative coach compared to what we are used to at Barca. This current side are built more from the back forward, rather than having all the weight on the shoulders of Messi and Luis Suarez.

This is a team in which Gerard Pique has grown enormously and the injury to Umtiti has unexpectedly allowed Clement Lenglet to become more effective too and improve building from the back. The full-backs give us a lot of power too and up front we have Messi, who is much more rested and purer in his game.

He understands now that he cannot play every single minute of every match and he has been focusing on the Champions League and he's geared up to lift his fifth European Cup. That has been the focus all season.

This team always plays in the way Messi plays. He is the motor, he is the engine, he is the vision and also the finisher.

How is the tie with Liverpool being portrayed in the Spanish media?

The Spanish media are being cautious and respectful. I don't think we have ever beaten Liverpool at Camp Nou. They are portraying Liverpool as a rival that will absolutely be difficult for Barca to beat, but at the same time, there won't be any fear from a team that has Messi in it. And let's not forget, there is great depth below the starting eleven.

Other than Lionel Messi, who has been Barcelona's star player this season?

Beyond Messi, it's probably Pique. He has grown enormously and the fact that he has retired from international football has helped his preparations. He has been focused solely on making Barcelona the very best team they can be. The team's defensive numbers are as good as they are because they're based on Pique's excellence.

He has been leading in way that Carles Puyol would be proud of and the whole team has been solid at the back.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been very good too, but this is Barca so we don't usually highlight defenders or goalkeepers as star players. However, I think based on the Valverde approach it has to be done.

And who has been the unsung hero?

I would say Luis Suarez. He has come in for some criticism but he has been stellar for Barca since the moment he signed, and definitely this season.

His connection with Messi makes Messi better. I think their understanding is second to none in world football and his numbers in La Liga - 25 goals and 12 assists last season and 21 goals and six assists so far this term - speak for themselves.

We are in the Champions League semi-finals, have already won La Liga and are in the final of the Copa del Rey, and that's definitely down to his contribution.

Which areas do you think the teams will look to exploit in each other?

LFC 4-0 Barca: Mane scores his first Reds goal

As it's always been with Barca, whenever a full-back is pushed forward that is an area to exploit. For example, if Jordi Alba zooms forward down the left wing, which he is going to do all the time, anyone who can capitalise on the gap may have a chance. And on the other side too.

However, whoever is keen enough, dynamic enough and intrepid enough to get into the gap will still have to face Lenglet and Pique. But I think that's probably the best way to catch us out... but don't tell anyone.

Which Liverpool player do Barcelona fear the most?

I don't think Barca fear any player in any team. Obviously, we know Virgil van Dijk has been a rock at the back, improving the solidity of the defence and making the team surer and more confident of the backline when they go forward.

They know that regardless of whether they lose the ball, whether they don't finish a move with a shot and so on, there is a world-class central defender behind them.

What have you made of Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool this season?

I don't think there are any lovers of football who don't appreciate what Jürgen Klopp has done - not only with Liverpool, but also Borussia Dortmund.

His players leave their souls on the pitch and Liverpool have several players up front who are incredibly speedy, which is something that could hurt Barca.

Being where they are in the Premier League with just two games to go is incredible - especially as Pep Guardiola is coaching Manchester City. Klopp is a world-class manager.

How do you expect Barcelona to line up?

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From Bilbao to Madrid: LFC's five best wins in Spain

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 05:00

Ahead of Liverpool's trip to Camp Nou on Wednesday night to take on Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League, we recall five great nights in Spain for the Reds...

Beating Cruyff and Barca at Camp Nou - March 30, 1976

Liverpool were paired with Barcelona in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup in 1976, and the Catalan giants were overwhelming favourites to reach the final as they paraded the great Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens. With 70,000 packed into Camp Nou, the home supporters fell silent on 13 minutes when John Toshack pounced to net a vital goal. The Reds produced a vintage European away display as they came away with a win and, more importantly, a clean sheet. After a 1-1 draw in the second leg at Anfield, Bob Paisley's charges had made the final.

Yossi stuns Real Madrid at the Bernabeu - February 25, 2009

Before his arrival at Anfield, Rafael Benitez had taken Valencia to the La Liga title twice at the expense of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and he was at it again with the Reds back in his homeland. In previous seasons Benitez had guided his team to wins at Camp Nou and the San Siro - and the hat-trick duly arrived at the other great footballing cathedral that is the Santiago Bernabeu. With the score goalless in Madrid, Fabio Aurelio curled in a free-kick which was met by a wonderful header from Yossi Benayoun, and Kopites were once again in dreamland with a priceless 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Champions League knockout tie.

Rush sinks Bilbao in Spain - November 2, 1983

En route to winning the European Cup and securing the treble in 1984, Joe Fagan's side faced a tricky second-round clash with Athletic Bilbao. After a goalless draw in the first leg at Anfield, the Spanish outfit were deemed favourites to beat the mighty Reds on their home turf, the San Mames Stadium. With the self-proclaimed 'Butcher of Bilbao' Andoni Goikoetxea in their ranks, they were a formidable outfit. However, with Graeme Souness running the show in midfield, the 'Butcher' was nullified. It took one goal to send the Reds through and it was a real collector's item for Ian Rush. By his own admission, headed goals were not a speciality for the prolific Welshman, but that notion briefly went out of the window when Rush powered home a wonderful 66th-minute header to seal a 1-0 win.

Bellamy inspires Reds to another win at Camp Nou - February 21, 2007

Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise inspired another Liverpool win over Barcelona at Camp Nou in 2007. Despite going a goal down to a 14th-minute effort from Deco in the Champions League knockout phase, the Reds responded when Bellamy levelled the score just before the break. The Welsh star then turned provider for Riise to drill home a superb winner and, although Barcelona claimed a 1-0 result at Anfield in the second leg, the Reds went through on away goals.

Igor inspires crucial CL win in Deportivo - November 3, 2004

During the road to Istanbul, the Reds produced a brilliant display to beat Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor. Benitez's Reds gave their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout phase a massive boost with a crucial 1-0 win. Going into the game the manager had suffered a blow with the news that playmaker Xabi Alonso was ruled out through injury, but he put faith in Igor Biscan and the Croatia international didn't disappoint. Biscan was an inspirational figure as Jorge Andrade's own goal after 13 minutes was enough to secure Benitez a winning return to Spain.

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Stats: Sadio Mane can make LFC history in Barcelona

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 23:59

Sadio Mane will help set a new club record if he finds the net in Liverpool's Champions League semi-final first leg at Barcelona on Wednesday night.

The Senegalese forward has scored 24 times this season and another at Camp Nou would see him join Mohamed Salah in reaching the 25-goal threshold.

It would be the first time ever that two Liverpool players have scored 25 or more goals in successive campaigns, following Salah (44) and Roberto Firmino (27) last term. 

Mane has scored at least once in every Champions League knockout tie from the group stages onwards since joining the Reds in 2016 - netting nine goals in 10 games. He also scored in last season's final in Kiev.

For more need-to-know pre-match facts and figures, courtesy of club statistician Ged Rea, read on...

In 18 away games in Spain, Liverpool have won seven, drawn five and lost six, scoring 18 and conceding 18.

The Reds have beaten Barcelona in two European semi-finals (1976 and 2001) and gone on to lift the trophy each time.

Jürgen Klopp has not lost any of his 10 European knockout ties as Liverpool boss. 

In 42 home games against English teams, Barcelona have lost only twice (both to Liverpool) and have won 28 and drawn 12.

This is Liverpool's 19th European semi-final. Of the 10 times they have played the first leg away from home they have progressed eight times - only failing in the 1997 Cup Winners' Cup to Paris Saint-Germain and in the 2010 Europa League to Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool at Camp Nou

The Reds have won three of their four European semi-finals against Spanish opposition.

Barcelona have only scored once in total in four home encounters with Liverpool.

Firmino is the only player to have featured in all 38 of Klopp's European games in charge of the Reds.

The Brazilian now has 16 European goals for Liverpool, with Salah on 15 and Mane on 14.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi has scored 10 goals in eight Champions League appearances this season and is the leading scorer in the competition.

The forward has netted 24 times in 32 matches against English clubs - twice as many as he has scored against any other country's representatives.

Messi has been on the losing side in only one of 31 knockout matches at Camp Nou - against Liverpool in 2007.

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Barcelona v Liverpool: Team news

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 20:25

Jürgen Klopp will wait to make a late decision on whether Roberto Firmino plays against Barcelona, but Liverpool are boosted by the return of Fabinho.

Firmino sat out the 5-0 thrashing of Huddersfield Town on Friday with a minor muscle tear.

The Brazilian forward, however, trained with his teammates at Melwood on Tuesday before flying out to Spain for the Champions League semi-final first leg.

His compatriot also took part in the session after recovering from a clash of heads that kept him out of action in the Reds' last match.

“We all knew from the beginning it would be a race," Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com about Firmino's condition. "We don’t have to make a decision today because there’s no game today, we can wait.

"It looked good so far but until tomorrow I have to make that decision – after lunchtime tomorrow. That’s what I will do."

On Fabinho, the Liverpool manager added: "Every human being needs time and he needed that time, but it was already three or four days ago; if the Huddersfield game would have been a day later he could have played, but it was just impossible for that game. But it’s OK."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has continued to train normally following his substitute appearance against Huddersfield, which marked his return after 12 months on the sidelines through injury.

Rhian Brewster is also part of the Liverpool contingent in Catalunya as he is now fit after a long-term knee issue.

“He is with us, he is our player and we want to have him around," Klopp said of the 19-year-old. "In this case I thought, ‘Come on, it’s Barcelona, let’s give him a first sniff.’”

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Meanwhile, Barcelona's Lionel Messi is fit and fresh for the Camp Nou meeting, having started as a substitute on the weekend.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner came off the bench in the second half of the encounter with Levante to score the goal that clinched the league title for Ernesto Valverde's side with three matches to spare.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Barca boss Valverde said: "Messi has been rested but we've had three league games within seven days, we've had the games with Manchester United and it's been a very heavy workload.

"But at the same time we needed to secure La Liga, so I've probably got my dosage of vocation right."

The Blaugrana continue to be without midfielder Rafinha, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament back in November.

Last time out

Liverpool v Huddersfield (April 26): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita, Salah, Sturridge, Mane.

Barcelona v Levante (April 27): Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Vidal, Rakitic, Arthur, Dembele, Suarez, Coutinho.

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Jürgen Klopp on Barcelona, Lionel Messi and trophy ambitions

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 20:19

Jürgen Klopp explained why Liverpool are relishing the opportunity to showcase their best football when they face FC Barcelona at Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

The Reds meet the Spanish giants in the opening leg of their much-anticipated Champions League semi-final – and on the eve of the tie, the manager spoke to the media inside the stadium.

Klopp fielded questions on how his side will approach the occasion, what a victory would mean, the challenge of taking on Barcelona, and dealing with the demands of two competitions.

Read a summary of his pre-match press conference at Camp Nou below…

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On Roberto Firmino’s fitness…

If Bobby is 100 per cent ready to play then he will maybe play. He is here, he trained today, we have tomorrow another session and then I have to make a decision. That’s it.

On the biggest challenge facing Liverpool at Camp Nou…

What can I say bad about this stadium? But it’s still a stadium where we want to play football and want to play good football – and, in an ideal world, the best football we are able to play. And that’s allowed, that’s why we try it. We play in stadiums like this. We never played here; we were here together watching a game two or three years ago when Barcelona played against Gladbach. In this game they didn’t play for the big stakes anymore – Barcelona were through and Gladbach were out – but it still was impressive. But of course we know that if you are in this part of the world it’s very emotional and the better we are, the more emotional the atmosphere will be. That’s how it is and it should be like that, we accept that.

There’s home advantage for Barcelona tomorrow and we have the home advantage next Tuesday, then we will see who could use the advantage more. We know how difficult it is to play against Barcelona because of the quality they have. It’s not only about Messi but of course it’s about him as well. Can we concentrate on Messi? We should in a lot of moments. But if you do it only, there are 10 world-class players around who decide the game easily then. They have the highest quality team, they are already Spanish champions. Messi said before the season, ‘We want to bring back this cup.’ Now we are here and I can only say we want to go to the final as well – if we can show that tomorrow night that would be cool.

On what it would mean to win the game…

A lot. It’s difficult. So many people came to Barcelona and had to play them, and had an idea and a plan and spoke about, ‘If we do this, if we do that…’ – and got a proper knock. But there were a few who could really cause them problems; we saw the game against Real Sociedad, they did really well. Levante did well a couple of days ago. Of course, the better the opponent is, the better the competition is, the higher the stakes are, the more they are in. Now they are champions since last Saturday and now they can completely focus on the Champions League. We will face them still and I’m really looking forward to it. But it will be a tough job to do.

On whether the Champions League is Liverpool’s best chance to win a trophy this season…

I don’t know. We still have to play against Barcelona, it’s not that it’s a 100 per cent chance. If you go to Vegas and throw 10 dollars somewhere in, I’m not sure how big the chances are. But we have a chance in both competitions and we have to play these games. It’s not lost tomorrow before it’s played and the other games are not lost or won, we have to play them and that’s what we do. In this moment, I don’t need to know which is the bigger chance for us to win. We have to work tomorrow here and not think about what we can do. If we go to the final, we have three weeks to think about what we have to do, three weeks is the time until the final. It’s all good, we are here, we want to play our best football and we will see what we get for it.

On what it’s like to be involved in the race for two trophies…

It’s brilliant. The only thing that would be better is if someone told us we are already champions but that’s quite difficult to reach. In other years it could have been like this but it’s not a problem, we are completely fine. We like the situation, the boys created that situation and now we are here. It’s a wonderful situation, to be honest: flying here, going to Barcelona. It’s not even two years ago that it was a big, big thing for the club to qualify for the Champions League and now we are second time in a row in the semi-finals – that’s big. It’s only positive and everybody sees it like that.

We don’t need a guarantee, to come here and think, ‘It’s only Barcelona, we play that and then we go home and concentrate on Newcastle.’ That would be nice but it’s not possible, the competition is too big and we like that. We don’t play against City at home, we play against Newcastle when we come home and City against Leicester. Nobody has to think about that game tomorrow, we only have to think about this game. It would be a massive mistake if you play against Barcelona with 15 or 20 per cent Newcastle in your mind. It doesn’t work. Then you get a proper knock. We want to avoid that. We want a result tomorrow that gives us a good chance to do it at home. Whatever that result is, we will see.

On whether Barcelona will be the toughest opponent he’s faced as Liverpool manager in Europe…

I’m not sure it’s allowed to say it here, but against Real Madrid it was not easy as well. Because I beat Real Madrid a couple of times, maybe not in Spain but at home with Dortmund, one day I got a table in a full restaurant in Ibiza! First they said it was full when I came in for a table, but then they said, ‘Ah, you’re Jürgen Klopp! You beat Real Madrid, so you get a table!’ So that was very difficult as well; we’ve had a lot of difficult games. Against Bayern [Munich], come on, that’s not easy! I know we always lose respect so quick when they don’t perform constantly on the highest level, but Barcelona is – for all managers in the world – one of the toughest games to play ever. And we have in the league Manchester City and that’s not a walk in the park when you play them, so we have a lot of difficult games to play and this is another one.

You don’t want to avoid difficult games in football, you want to have them because that means you play for something – and that’s what we do. It’s not a problem. Will we be perfect tomorrow night? For sure not, that’s not possible. Will we make mistakes? Yes. Will we suffer? Yes, 100 per cent. Will there be moments when we have a chance? Oh, 100 per cent. [Will we] use them? I hope so, that’s what we try to do. We can be completely free to play that game. I know people make of it that we became better in the last couple of years and – maybe not here – but people say Barcelona are not the Barcelona anymore without Xavi and Iniesta or whatever. It is a brilliant team here and we are [for] the first year or the second year a little bit in contention, but they are here for maybe 20 years. It will be so difficult, but I couldn’t be more excited about having the opportunity to play it. That’s what I hope I can transport to my players – that they feel the same. Let’s play football.

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On whether Lionel Messi is the best footballer in the world…

Messi would be for me – as a player I’ve seen – the No.1. 100 per cent, that’s me. Cristiano Ronaldo is for sure in that as well and all the rest we have to see, I have coached a few really good players, but they didn’t finish their careers and they still have time to develop. My father always said it was Pele, but I didn’t see Pele live – I am too young for that. There are lot of good players around, but that’s my ranking – Leo is, for me, the best.

On whether the winners of this tie will be favourites in the final against either Tottenham or Ajax…

Look, people think a lot and talk even more. We have to play football. Who cannot have respect for Ajax Amsterdam after what they have done in their Champions League campaign? Does anybody think if they go through next week, ‘Thank God it is Ajax Amsterdam!’? Look, they are brilliant, brilliant. Tottenham are such a strong team, they are in the semi-final of the Champions League – I know what kind of characters they are, how they fight. There is no favourite. If Barca go through, maybe they are favourite. If we go through, we are one of two teams in a final and will try everything to win it. It is not decided and it’s not important because there is a date in Madrid and somebody will decide it [then] and we’ll know who it is.

Reds train at Melwood before Camp Nou clash

On whether Liverpool’s European pedigree gives the team extra motivation…

What can we do more apart from winning the final? We’ve played now three times in European competition, with a one-year break. The first year we were part of the Europa League and went to the final and lost it. Sorry. Then a one-year break, the next year Champions League qualification, we went to the final and lost it. Sorry. We cannot do more, we don’t need extra motivation, we are fighting like crazy. In the Europa League season for sure, we came on three wheels into the final after 63 games and stuff like that. Last year, we saw it, was a bit unlucky against a very strong team. We cannot do more. We dream like you dream, we try everything. You cannot as an aim, really, to be a kind of legend in the future, you have to do the work and if somebody looks at you in the future and thinks you’re a legend then it happened and all good. We try all we can; we always did and we always will do. Then we will see what will happen. It is difficult, it is really, really an outstanding achievement to be the second time in a row in the semi-final. And rightly so that now Barcelona are waiting – a tough, tough opponent, but we still want to try to do it. That’s all.

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Sadio Mane on Barca comparisons, Golden Boot and idolising Ronaldinho

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 20:15

Sadio Mane admits it's a big 'compliment' for he and his Liverpool strike partners to be held in the same esteem as Barcelona's attackers.

The continued goalscoring form of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino has earned the trio a reputation as some of the deadliest forwards in the world.

In some quarters, the Reds' frontline has been put in the same bracket as the Barcelona one that contains Luis Suarez and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi.

And the two star-studded attacks will do battle in the semi-finals of the Champions League, with the tie starting on Wednesday night.

Mane previewed the first leg by fielding questions from journalists at a press conference at Camp Nou on Tuesday evening.

Read on to see what the No.10 had to say...

On going head-to-head with Salah for the Premier League Golden Boot award...

To be honest, I think my key form is the squad. You can see that we help each other every single game and we're giving everything we can as a team to get a positive result on the pitch. I think it's very important for Liverpool to have players trying to help the team, scoring goals, giving each other assists. I think that's most important.

On the challenge of Barcelona after facing Real Madrid in the final last season...

I think it was a really, really good experience because it was the first time for each of our players to play a final. Of course we would have loved to win, but we faced one of the best teams in the world and they deserved to win. Let's go and use this experience for tomorrow night and try to get the positive result here.

On playing against former teammate Philippe Coutinho...

Great, great player and I'm a little bit jealous that Barcelona get him. But it's part of football and we are happy for him. I think he really enjoyed playing alongside his teammates and he's giving everything. He's still young and for sure he will improve a lot because I know him - he's a hard worker. Hopefully tomorrow he will still be in the bed when we play!

[embedded content]

On looking up to ex-Barca star Ronaldinho...

Ronaldinho was one of my heroes and I really love watching him play, especially here [at Camp Nou]. I would love to play against him, but tomorrow he is not here. I still love him and he's still my hero forever. [I liked] his skills, smiling for sure. Maybe I'm not smiling on the pitch [and] people think I'm angry, but I'm not! I would love to have his smile but I think we are not similar in this side. That's it.

On whether Barcelona and Liverpool possess the best strikeforces in the world...

Wow, what a compliment. We are one of the best in the world? I'm really happy to hear that. To be honest, for us it's always a compliment and, at the same time, a motivation for us to compare to these kind of players. I think it's going to be another motivation to give everything and to win against those best players in the world.

On playing at Camp Nou...

I think it's a wonderful, wonderful stadium. I've been watching Barcelona since I was young and have been watching La Liga. But we are used to it because Anfield is unique. I think it will be great for us to play in this kind of stadium because every single player would love to play [in] this kind of stadium but without making pressure. I think it's motivation for us to play and get a positive result here.

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Sadio Mane on Barca comparisons, Golden Boot and idolising Ronaldinho

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 20:15

Sadio Mane admits it's a big 'compliment' for he and his Liverpool strike partners to be held in the same esteem as Barcelona's attackers.

The continued goalscoring form of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have earned the trio a reputation as some of the deadliest forwards in the world.

In some quarters, the Reds' frontline has been put in the same bracket as the Barcelona one that contains Luis Suarez and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi.

And the two star-studded attacks will do battle in the semi-finals of the Champions League, with the tie starting on Wednesday night.

Mane previewed the first leg by fielding questions from journalists at a press conference at Camp Nou on Tuesday evening.

Read on to see what the No.10 had to say...

On going head-to-head with Salah for the Premier League Golden Boot award...

To be honest, I think my key form is the squad. You can see that we help each other every single game and we're giving everything we can as a team to get a positive result on the pitch. I think it's very important for Liverpool to have players trying to help the team, scoring goals, giving each other assists. I think that's most important.

On the challenge of Barcelona after facing Real Madrid in the final last season...

I think it was a really, really good experience because it was the first time for each of our players to play a final. Of course we would have loved to win, but we faced one of the best teams in the world and they deserved to win. Let's go and use this experience for tomorrow night and try to get the positive result here.

On playing against former teammate Philippe Coutinho...

Great, great player and I'm a little bit jealous that Barcelona get him. But it's part of football and we are happy for him. I think he really enjoyed playing alongside his teammates and he's giving everything. He's still young and for sure he will improve a lot because I know him - he's a hard worker. Hopefully tomorrow he will still be in the bed when we play!

[embedded content]

On looking up to ex-Barca star Ronaldinho...

Ronaldinho was one of my heroes and I really love watching him play, especially here [at Camp Nou]. I would love to play against him, but tomorrow he is not here. I still love him and he's still my hero forever. [I liked] his skills, smiling for sure. Maybe I'm not smiling on the pitch [and] people think I'm angry, but I'm not! I would love to have his smile but I think we are not similar in this side. That's it.

On whether Barcelona and Liverpool possess the best strikeforces in the world...

Wow, what a compliment. We are one of the best in the world? I'm really happy to hear that. To be honest, for us it's always a compliment and, at the same time, a motivation for us to compare to these kind of players. I think it's going to be another motivation to give everything and to win against those best players in the world.

On playing at Camp Nou...

I think it's a wonderful, wonderful stadium. I've been watching Barcelona since I was young and have been watching La Liga. But we are used to it because Anfield is unique. I think it will be great for us to play in this kind of stadium because every single player would love to play [in] this kind of stadium but without making pressure. I think it's motivation for us to play and get a positive result here.

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Salah and Henderson nominated for PL Player of the Month

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 18:00

Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson have both been nominated for the Premier League's April Player of the Month award.

The duo are in contention for the accolade after helping Liverpool win all four of their fixtures during the period.

Salah opened the month with a brilliant counter-attacking goal away at Southampton before producing a stunning long-range strike against Chelsea, which is also on the shortlist for Goal of the Month.

The Egyptian then scored twice in the Reds' 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town to take his league tally for the season to 21 and put him top in the Golden Boot standings.

Henderson, meanwhile, has thrived in an advanced midfield role, scoring or assisting in three matches.

The pair are up against six others for the award: Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Shane Long (Southampton), Ayoze Perez (Newcastle United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) and Chris Wood (Burnley).

Click here to cast a vote for Salah and Henderson.

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Klopp nominated for PL Manager of the Month prize

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 17:00

Jürgen Klopp is in contention to retain the Premier League's Manager of the Month award after being nominated for the April accolade.

The boss led Liverpool to consecutive top-flight victories over Southampton, Chelsea, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town throughout the month.

And he has subsequently been included on April's four-man shortlist for the prize he picked up last month, alongside Pep Guardiola, Scott Parker and Nuno Espirito Santo.

Klopp was also named Premier League Manager of the Month in December this season.

Click here to vote for Klopp now.

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Boss on Barca meeting: 'It's a big team and we’re getting closer'

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 16:30

Jürgen Klopp believes his Liverpool side are well 'on the way' to reaching the levels of Barcelona ahead of the Reds' trip to Camp Nou in the Champions League semi-finals.

Participating in the last four of Europe's premier cup competition for the second year in a row, Klopp's side will battle the 2018-19 La Liga champions on Wednesday evening in the first leg.

The Liverpool manager previewed the star-studded encounter in a conversation with Liverpoolfc.com shortly before he and his squad jetted off for Catalunya - and read on below to see what he had to say...

So Barcelona at Camp Nou, you've taken this team and Borussia Dortmund into some pretty intimidating arenas and came away with results. Do you factor in the psychological impact of going somewhere like that and playing a team like that? Or is that being disrespectful to us in saying that?

Nothing around Barcelona if you speak about them as a football club, team then nothing is disrespectful. It's always like, 'OK, that's not bad!' We go there and in a game like this you have nothing to lose and everything to win. It's a really cool place. Thank God, three years ago, two and a half years ago, we were there in December and made our little Christmas trip with the team. [We] watched the last game of the group stage, Barcelona against Gladbach - it was not the most competitive game maybe, but it was still nice.

Inside Training: Reds train ahead of Barca trip

I heard people saying it's not the Barcelona of [the past], come on, really! Analyse them once, it's a really, really good football team with a lot of quality, confidence of course being champions since a few days, probably cup winner in Spain. So it's a big team, but we are on the way to come closer, that's how it is. How close we are, I have no clue. We will see that. We are all looking forward to it and that's the most important thing.

Looking at the Champions League run this season and in the last campaign, we've often been at Anfield in the first leg and then away second...

Rome was different, Man City was different, Bayern was different. We actually never thought about that. Before the draw everybody is asking, 'Who do you want?'. I don't know. After the draw everybody wants and tells, 'The first [leg] away is good and then the second at home is brilliant'. All the teams we played probably thought that and now they are out and we are in.

It doesn't change the dynamic with the away goals, does it?

Away goals, we should not concede too many! That's how it is and if we can score, we should score. That's actually what we try all the time. But you cannot go into a game and say, 'We have to score, we have to score, we have to score'. That's what you always try to do. We need to be very solid, we need to be really leggy. We have to work a lot; the pitch is big, really bigger, I think five or six metres longer than Anfield - that's a lot in a decisive area.

But you dream of these games when you are a football player. You want to play Barcelona and, in the best way, you want to compete with them. I think we can do that, but we have to show it tomorrow.

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Team flight photos: Reds set off for Barcelona

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 16:06

Liverpool are en route to Barcelona for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final first leg at Camp Nou.

Our photographer is on board the team flight, too, and he snapped the squad and staff embarking their plane at John Lennon Airport...

Photos by John Powell

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Salah's Chelsea screamer up for PL Goal of the Month

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 16:00

Mohamed Salah's stunning long-range drive versus Chelsea has been nominated for the Premier League's Goal of the Month award - and you can help Liverpool's No.11 win by voting now.

The forward found the top corner of the Kop-end net in sensational style to seal the Reds' 2-0 win over his former club on April 14.

Salah is up against Will Hughes, Eden Hazard, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Gonzalo Higuain, Christian Eriksen, Dan Gosling and Ryan Babel for the prize.

Click here to vote now.

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LFC fitness latest: Firmino, Fabinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 15:29

Jürgen Klopp has provided an update on the fitness of Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final first leg against FC Barcelona.

The trio were included in the Reds’ 23-man squad for Wednesday’s meeting at Camp Nou after Firmino and Fabinho missed last week’s 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town and Oxlade-Chamberlain made his return after a year out as a second-half substitute in that game.

Klopp will wait until matchday to decide whether Firmino, who suffered a minor muscle tear in training prior to the Huddersfield clash, will face Barca, but his fellow Brazilian Fabinho is available following the head injury he sustained at Cardiff City on April 21.

Of Firmino’s inclusion in his squad for the trip to Spain, Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “Yes, of course [it’s a huge boost]. 

“We all knew from the beginning it would be a race. We don’t have to make a decision today because there’s no game today, we can wait. It looked good so far but until tomorrow I have to make that decision – after lunchtime tomorrow. That’s what I will do.

“Of course, that’s what you have to do in a situation when it’s a race for one player, you have to prepare all the other things. That’s what we did. We had not too many sessions but we had this afternoon a very important one and tomorrow morning a little one. 

“Then we should be prepared for the game. It’s all good. We have 23 with us to Barcelona, so enough choices for me to make. That’s what I will do.”

On Fabinho, the manager said: “He was not available. Every human being needs time and he needed that time, but it was already three or four days ago; if the Huddersfield game would have been a day later he could have played, but it was just impossible for that game. But it’s OK.

“It’s so important [to have a break]. This is now the most intense period of a long, long season because we now have three games in six days and we need to think about different things. Of course, with the opponents we have it’s difficult. But the boys are all in good shape so we will use as many as possible.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, has trained ‘completely normally’ since his bright cameo versus the Terriers, Klopp reported.

The boss continued: “It’s good. To have him around again is cool. He reacted well but it’s small steps for him.

“The first small step – which was very nice and important – was against Huddersfield so we will see what the next one is for him. [There has been no negative reaction], he trained completely normally.”

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