As it happened: Messi masterclass downs Liverpool

As it happened: Messi masterclass downs Liverpool

Follow live text commentary of Barcelona vs Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League semi-final first-leg at the Nou Camp. Kick off is set for 20:00 BST.

joshuakerr97
Joshua Kerr
Goodbye!
Well, that's all from us. Thanks for joining in and following along. You can catch all the fallout on the Vavel Liverpool section as the Reds will have to, quickly, switch their focus back to the Premier League title race. 
Messi's genius
Messi may have been quiet for a large part of the second-half but the world's best player will always make his mark.

His 600th Barcelona goal was absolutely brilliant and one that everyone should watch at some point or another. 

As one Liverpool pundit eloquently put it a few weeks ago, you little dancer. 

Full Time
And that's full-time. Barcelona will take a three-goal advantage to Anfield next week. They could have had more but Liverpool could have, quite easily, snatched an away goal or two. 

Mo Salah will have his chance played over and over but Klopp's side will have their chance to answer serve on their own turf. 

95' - Barcelona could have had a fourth but Dembele scuffs the breakaway chance. An absolutely frantic end to the game.
Alena on, Roberto off.
93' - And it's a second, delayed, changed for the hosts as Sergi Roberto is replaced by Carlos Alena. A substitution drawn up right from La Masia.
Suarez replaced by Dembele
93' - Substitution for the hosts. Luis Suarez departs as Ousmane Dembele takes his place.  
92' - It's a stunning break from Barcelona as they have three-on-one with Messi directing traffic. He opts to play in Suarez but his effort fizzles away. 
91' - Tensions have flared once again as Vidal pips the ball off Mane's feet inside the Barca area and the visitors appeal for a penalty. 
Yellow Card: Alba
85' - It's a yellow card for Jordi Alba. 
83' - Oh it's frantic and Liverpool should have an away goal! Confusion in the Barca backline lets Firmino curl a low effort that is cleared off the goal line but Salah, with an open goal, rattles the post and watches on bemused as the hosts clear. 
GOAL! 3-0, Messi
81' - GOAL, Messi! That is special. Absolutely special. It's 600 up for the Argentine as he buries a free-kick with pin-point precision into the top corner - giving Alisson absolutely no chance. 
81' - Yellow cards are handed out to Fabinho and Luis Suarez but Barca come away with a free-kick in a dangerous position. 
Firmino enters the fray
78' - Jurgen Klopp has responded, bringing on Roberto Firmino in place of Wijnaldum. 
77' - That goal appears to have lifted both Barca and Messi himself. The forward is getting on the ball with his trademark swagger and taking on anyone who dares try and stop him. The hosts may just have another goal in them here.
2-0, Messi!
74' - GOAL! You can't keep Lionel Messi quiet for too long. It wasn't a moment of genius or brilliance but they all count the same. Messi controls a rebound from Suarez's goalbound effort to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. 
71' - Liverpool's pressure isn't letting up and it's causing all kinds of trouble for the hosts as they try and play their way out from the back. 
69' - Liverpool's pacy attack has Barca at sixes and sevens in defence but Jordan Henderson's pacy dink from just outside the area takes a huge deflection and spins into the arms of Ter Stegen. 
67' - Joel Matip sniffs out a dangerous looking Suarez run after a delightful lofted ball from Messi. 
66' - Liverpool work a number of crosses in and out the Barcelona area but are failing to find that killer blow. 
63' - Welcome to the second-half, Lionel Messi. The Argentine genius carves open the Liverpool backline by waiting and playing in Vidal. However, the midfielder opts to try a ball across the six-yard box instead of shooting - during the ire of his captain. 
Semedo replaces Coutinho
60' - It's a shake-up from Valverde as Coutinho departs for Semedo. The Portuguese full-back drops into the backline as Sergi Roberto moves forward to right-wing.
58' - Liverpool probably should be level. Salah cushions Van Dijk's long-ball before rolling a ball across the box. James Milner appears out of nowhere to strike at goal but Ter Stegen keeps his effort out. 
56' - Barcelona are preparing to make a change. It's going to be Nelson Semedo.
53' - An absolute daisy-cutter from Salah forces Ter Stegen into an outstretched, low-stop that allows Liverpool to work another corner. The Reds are just starting to turn the screw. 
50' - Now it's the turn of Clement Llenget to get the better of Mo Salah. The centre-half wins a foul just inside his own half but the resulting long-ball comes to nothing as the hosts turn possession over again. 
48' - Liverpool have got their tails up as they go in search of an away goal. They've barely let Barcelona out of their own half since play got back underway.
47' - Chance for Liverpool. A brilliant run from Wijnaldum on the edge of the Barca area leads to a lay off to James Milner. Milner bends a curled effort towards the far-post but the big outstretched palm of Ter Stegen puts it out of play for a corner. 
46' - Early foul on Suarez just inside the Barca half under pressure from Joel Matip. Still no need for the referee's cards.
Second-half gets started
46' - The second period is underway. Just how long will Jurgen Klopp wait before springing for Roberto Firmino? 
Half-Time!
And there's the half-time whistle. Luis Suarez's first Champions League goal of the season is the only thing that separates the two sides. 
45' - Three minutes of stoppage time has been signalled by the fourth-official and his light-up board. 
45' - Tensions appear to just be boiling over here as Coutinho goes down under pressure from Matip. Suarez gets in the face of Alisson but as the 'keeper pushes back, the referee has to jump in with his whistle to calm everything down. 
42' - Messi gets taken down by Milner just off the pitch and rolls an extra few yards. While Barca players call for a foul, the referee waves away their protests and awards the hosts a throw-in instead. 
Yellow Card: Llenget
39' - Clement Llenget picks up a caution for pulling Mo Salah back. 
37' - Liverpool have just started to apply some pressure of their own thanks to Mane and Milner. There's only a few minutes until half-time but you can feel that there's another goal in this before the break. 
35' - Oh, that is a stunning chance. Sadio Mane gets beyond the Barca backline thanks to a great cross from Salah but he blazes his shot over the bar from about 10-yards out with Ter Stegen pretty much beaten. 
33' - Liverpool have responded well and are now putting the Barca backline under pressure. Mane just gets beaten in the air before he can head an attempt on goal after a deep cross.
31' - Messi switched the play with a superb crossfield pass. Suarez and Alba absolutely tear Joe Gomez on the Liverpool right-hand side apart but Coutinho gets crowded out before he can dig out a shot. 
29' - That goal has lifted the Nou Camp to another level, and the players has responded in kind as Messi and Suarez serve up another chance. Liverpool will need to ride this storm out. 
1-0, Suarez!
26' - Goal! Luis Suarez opens the scoring at the Nou Camp by latching on to a peach of a ball from Jordi Alba. That'll calm some of the growing Catalan nerves. 
Henderson replaces Keita
23' - Keita cannot continue and on comes Jordan Henderson, perhaps earlier than Jurgen Klopp expected to use him. We'll get some extended stoppage time before half-time because of that.  
19' - Naby Keita appears to be in trouble as he grimaces and the referee calls for a break in play. The Liverpool physio is on as Jordan Henderson breaks into a brisk warm-up. 
17' - Pique plays himself into trouble by bringing Mane down, right on the edge of the Barca area. It's a weird angle for a free-kick but the hosts clear the hanging cross easily.
15' - A shot on target! Coutinho, who scored a hatful for Livepool from similar positions, bends a curled effort from just outside the area but Alisson was able to smother the shot. 
14' - In the aftermath of Barca's complaints, Mo Salah breaks away with a mazy run. Vidal thought about bringing him down but opted against it. However, the Egyptian's run fell flat after reaching the Barca area - crowded out by Pique and Roberto.
13' - Barca carve open the Liverpool backline with Alba and Rakitic down the left-hand side. Andy Robertson just gets in front of Messi's run before he can strike at goal but, as the ball bounces away, the forward appears for handball on Joel Matip. The referee, however, waves away. 
11' - Lionel Messi's ability to drop deep and carve open a defence is well, well known, but he appears to be dropping even deeper than normal so far - finding himself under pressure from Fabinho pretty quickly.
9' - As the TV commentary notes, it's been a pretty open game so far with both sides creating chances. However, there's been a lack of real shooting opportunities just yet. 
7' - James Milner falls victim to a Luis Suarez foul deep in the Liverpool half. Nothing untoward about it as the former Liverpool man apologies. No need for the referee's cards just yet.
Penalty or no Penalty?
4' - Oh, we have some early controversy. Sadio Mané gets around Gerard Pique and goes down. It appears as if the referee was ready to award a penalty but watched on. No VAR used.
3' - We're only a few minutes in but it appears as if Jurgen Klopp's bemusing line-up is starting to show itself as Georginio Wijnaldum partners Mane and Salah up top. Yes, you read that correctly.
Early Barca pressure
1' - Alisson gets an early touch of the ball as Barca quickly work their way forward. A great bit of interplay from Coutinho, Suarez, and Messi in the middle of the led to a diagonal ball towards Vidal but the Brazillian was able to deal with it. 
Kick-off
1' - We're off! The visitors get us underway as Mo Salah knocks back to Joel Matip.
Kick-off is almost here..
We're not far away from kick-off now. That famous anthem rings out around the Camp Nou despite thunderous whistles from some supporters.
Still awaiting the teams
The Barca fans have already displayed their pre-game tifo. They've informed everyone they are ready to "Ready to Color Europe." No, no idea. 
Who is playing where?
We're still half-an-hour away from kick-off but that Liverpool team news seems to have baffled everyone. Will it be three at back? Five central with Milner at right-back? Nobody seems to know. However, we won't have to wait long.
No Firmino or TAA
So, Liverpool will have to make do without two of their main men - Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino. Firmino had, reportedly, been struggling for fitness in the build-up to the game but at least, for the Reds, he will be an option for the bench if need be. 
Confirmed team news
It's an equally strong selection from Ernesto Valverde. Of course, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez start. Nelson Semedo drops out in place of Sergi Roberto. Barcelona: Ter-Stegen, Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Vidal, Coutinho, Suarez and Messi. 
Confirmed team news
The vistors team news is in and Jurgen Klopp has chosen to leave Jordan Henderson out of his starting line-up. Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Milner, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita, Mane, Salah
Countdown to kick-off of Barcelona vs Liverpool
That's all your pre-match build up for now. Join us at around 19:00 BST for confirmed starting XI's before the action gets underway. Connor Bennet will be the man to keep you entertained throughout the evening. See you soon!
Klopp ready to reunite with former club heroes
It will be a first for Klopp when he lines up against Messi in an opposing dugout for the first time in competitive management.

The German manager refused to hid his plaudits for the Barcelona talisman rating Messi as the best footballer he has seen in his career, telling reporters in his Tuesday press conference: "I didn't see Pele live but there are a lot of good players. Lionel Messi is for me the best."

The Reds boss was then asked to elaborate on his thoughts to being reunited with Philippe Coutinho following the Brazilian's £142 million move to Barcelona back in January 2018 and admits he did not think the side could prosper as they have without him.

"Yes we miss Coutinho, a lot, because he is a world-class player and I loved working with him. But we had to deal without him and we really did well. When I first heard he wanted to go to Barcelona, I didn't imagine we could be that good [without him]."

Valverde ready to unleash Messi
Lionel Messi incredibly won the La Liga title for the 10th time in his 15 seasons with Barcelona on Saturday following the Catalonia giants recent triumph.

He scored the decisive goal that allowed the team to clinch their eighth league title in 11 seasons.

"I've rested Lionel Messi more than usual but this has been a month with two Champions League clashes, and twice we had to play three games in a week," said Valverde.

"We wanted to clinch the Spanish league title, but at the same time we also wanted to make sure he was prepared for this tie. I think I've probably got the balance right."

Match Facts
It wouldn't be a Joshua Kerr live blog without some much-needed stats now, would it?

 

  • Liverpool have not lost in four previous away meetings with Barcelona in all competitions (W2 D2).
  • Liverpool are the only English side to win away at Barcelona in European competition, beating them 1-0 in the 1975-76 UEFA Cup and 2-1 in the 2006-07 Champions League.
  • Barcelona have won more Champions League games against English sides (27) than any side has won against clubs from a particular nation in the competition's history.
  • This is Liverpool's 11th appearance in the European Cup/Champions League semi-finals - they've progressed from eight of their previous 10, failing only in 1964-65 (vs Inter) and 2007-08 (vs Chelsea).
  • Barcelona have only progressed from one of their four European Cup/Champions League semi-finals against English opposition, having been knocked out in 1974-75 by Leeds United, in 2007-08 by Manchester United and in 2011-12 by Chelsea. Their only such progression came in 2008-09 against Chelsea, before beating Manchester United in the final in Rome.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in 31 Champions League home games (W28 D3), the best such run in the competition. The Catalan giants have conceded just 15 goals in those 31 games, and never more than once in a match.
  • Lionel Messi has scored 24 goals in just 32 Champions League matches against English opposition, however the Argentine has failed to net in his two previous such appearances versus Liverpool.
  • Only Steven Gerrard (21) has scored more European Cup/Champions League goals for Liverpool than their current trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino (14 each).
Barcelona Team News
Barcelona have a near full-strength side to select from with Rafinha the only player missing with a long-term knee injury.

Messi and Coutinho both only played 45 minutes on Saturday in a bid to keep both players sharp for Wednesday night.

Liverpool Team News
Roberto Firmino appears to be looking sharp in his race to be fit after a muscle tear, but a late decision still have to be made on whether the Brazilian can feature.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is available after returning against Huddersfield for the first time in over a year following a serious knee injury sustained in the same round of the competition last season.

Academy graduate and young striker Rhian Brewster has also included in the 23-man travelling party.

Key Battle: Van Dijk vs Messi
Attempting to keep the five-time Balon d'Or winner quiet in his own backyard will be the toughest test yet for Liverpool's PFA Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk. 

The Dutchman has been a colossus for the Reds this season with the Merseyside club still remaining in the hunt for an unprecedented double and it's rather poetic that such a semi-final would feature Europe's best defender against quite arguably the game's greatest ever player.

Are Barca too reliant on Messi?
Ernesto Valverde will welcome Liverpool to Spain in pursuit of an historic treble with the Spaniard looking to follow the footsteps of legendary managers Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

Also former Reds pair Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho will be making their first appearances against their former club's.

It's a game impossibly difficult to predict with both juggernauts at the peak of their powers this season. Valverde and his team's demolition job of United was a testament to Barca's strength. 

However, their victories over the Red Devil's may rather have highlighted the Manchester club's inabilities rather than Barcelona's undeniable strengths. Liverpool will not waste the chances that were presented to United and many fans are believing that the team are still too reliant on Lionel Messi.

Inspiring Liverpool
Klopp and co will be hoping to extend their 19 match unbeaten streak on Wednesday night with Liverpool still having their sights set on recording a historic double.

The Reds will be hoping to avenge the heartache of last season when they were beaten in the final of the competition by Barcelona's Spanish rivals Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp has never faced Barcelona competitively in his managerial career and will be desperate to get his hands on his first piece of silverware since his appointment to Anfield back in October 2015.


Last meeting
The last time these two sides met each other in the competition was over 12 years ago in the last-16 of the Champions League when then-current holders Barcelona were sent packing from the competition after Liverpool prevailed on away goals back in March 2007.

The Reds left the Nou Camp with an emphatic 2-1 victory thanks to goals from John Arne Risse and Craig Bellamy before Eiður Guðjohnsen scored the only goal in the reverse fixture at Anfield in a 1-0 win for Barcelona meaning that Liverpool would progress and go on to reach the final.

Two European titans striving for glory
Both these European giants will be hoping to lift a 6th title in the competition following miraculous campaigns from both sets of teams. Barcelona welcome Liverpool having already secured the La Liga crown at the weekend for the fourth time in five years.

Meanwhile, the visitors have kept themselves one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race having already recorded a club-record points tally in the competition (92) with still two games to play.

Welcome!
Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK's live text commentary of yet another mouthwatering Champions League spectacle as five-time holders Barcelona welcome five-time holders Liverpool in the semi-finals of the competition. Kick off is set for 8 pm BST and we'll have all the pre-match build-up courtesy of Joshua Kerr. Connor Bennett will then be here to take you through all of the match action as it happens. Stay tuned. 
VAVEL Logo