In old mythical tales, the entire earth would shake when two titans faced off in battle. The match tonight already has a mythical status, prior to being played. Two five time Champions League trophy winners are trying to get their sixth at the expense of the other. It is Lionel Messi versus Virgil van Dijk; the world trembles…
If we had to choose, we’d say that Barcelona is favourite in Camp Nou. But it is a close call more than anything. Like B.A. said prior to fighting Rocky when asked what the outcome of their fight would be: ‘pain’. Whatever the outcome of tonight, it is gonna take everything and more. Jurgen Klopp expects a similar experience:
“Will we be perfect? That’s not possible,” said Klopp. “Will we make mistakes? Oh, yes. Will we suffer? Oh, yes, 100%.”
“Will there be moments when we have a chance? Yes, 100%. I hope we will use them – that is what we will try to do.”
These are the words of a lamb going to the slaughterhouse armed to the teeth. Denying the fate that usually apply to many that visit Camp. Accepting their suffering, but not their defeat. All for a greater cause: shutting down this slaughterhouse for the rest of the season.
Virgil van Dijk versus Lionel Messi
Most anticipated will be the encounter between the freshly chosen Premier League player of the year and Barcelona’s vedette. Though Messi roams too freely for a man to man 90 minutes showdown, the two will meet on the pitch more often than not.
This Champions League, every one in two shots on goal by Messi is converted into a goal. Van Dijk will get the order to prevent Messi shooting more than once with these stats. Liverpool also has some stats that will boost their confidence: they didn’t receive any goal from a counter in a Champions League game thus far. The organisation of Liverpool under the lead of Van Dijk is flawless. He will now face the ultimate test: to defend against ‘the undefendable’.
Weirdly enough, the two teams share(d) the same weakness when it comes to Champions League matches. Namely a lack in confidence. Despite their football status, neither of the teams are walking on the pitch in the manner that Real Madrid and to a lesser extent Juventus do. Convinced of their superiority. Ronaldo’s spirit still haunts this tournament, denying Messi his all time record status. He will know that he will have to win this years trophy in order to break the curse. It could be an advantage for Liverpool that seemed to have lost all insecurity that was creeping on the team until recently (we all remember what happend with Karius last season). Instead of arrogant invincibility, they chose to have a rather relaxed attitude, breathing confidence. Klopp is referring to anyone as ‘dude’ and ‘cool’. You would think he is leading a bunch of surfers instead of football players.
Injuries, Suspensions and Competitions
Barcelona has won their 26th title last week while Liverpool is facing New Castle next weekend in the finale against Manchester City for the Premier League. It’s quite a difference in perspective, but other than that both teams are free of injuries and suspensions. There are no excuses. The teams that will walk on the pitch tonight are the best these clubs have to offer!