Liverpool is still alive in the English Premier League championship race but they don’t have control of their own destiny. They’ll need Brighton & Hove Albion to take points from Manchester City this weekend either via a win or draw. They’ll also need to beat Wolverhampton at Anfield. If Manchester City beats Brighton they’re EPL Champions no matter what Liverpool does.
Before that, however, Liverpool has a tough task in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. Despite playing a very solid game throughout, Barca broke through for three goals and will hold a 3-0 advantage on the aggregate as they play on Tuesday at Anfield. Liverpool really deserved a better result at Camp Nou as they held the advantage in time of possession and shots on goal. Instead, they return home needing to win by four goals or get a 3-0 shutout and hope for the best in extra time and penalties.
Liverpool faces a couple of obstacles to that already difficult task. Barcelona just doesn’t give up a lot of goals. They allowed 4 goals to Real Betis in Spanish Primera Division play in November 2018 and once again to Villarreal in a 4-4 tie in early April. A bigger obstacle is the Liverpool injury situation–two important components of their front line will miss here as Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have both been ruled out.
Working in their favor will be a loud Anfield crowd and the knowledge that they did a decent job tactically in the first leg even if the result didn’t show it. Liverpool moved the ball well and for long stretches seemed to have more energy than Barcelona. They’ll need to bring an even better effort here as all Barca needs to do is to play good possession football and they’re through to the finals. If Barcelona gets an away goal they’ll all but lock up a spot in the finals as well. Liverpool would then have to score at least five goals against Barcelona to advance–no one has done this since 2003.
The difficulty of the challenge for Liverpool is obvious–they need to pressure Barcelona and stay on the attack but at the same time they can’t afford to give up an away goal. It would not be unprecedented for Liverpool to prevail–in fact, that’s what happened last year when Barca played AC Roma in the quarterfinals. Barcelona won the first leg at Camp Nou by three goals only to drop the return leg to 3-0. Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson was in net for Roma in that game and ironically is now on the Liverpool roster.
Of course, there’s a reason that Barcelona is -2500 to advance. The best that Liverpool can realistically hope for is to salvage some measure of pride by winning this contest in front of their home fans. To some extent, you have to sympathize with Liverpool–they lose only 1 game in the Premiership this year and will likely have to settle for second place. They’ll likely also have to watch Barcelona in the Champions League final despite a solid semifinal effort.