A champions league win on Catalan soil has only ever been achieved by one English team, Liverpool FC, who unlike most have a formidable record against the Spanish giants, boasting only two defeats in eight competitive games over the last forty years. However, this current team is considered by most as the best team on the planet and few would disagree.
During pre season Barcelona have lived up to the billing, not losing a single game, scoring an impressive nineteen goals in six games and only conceding three. This meeting is at London’s Wembley stadium, where Liverpool fans will finally get a glimpse of the former kop idol Luis Suárez along with Messi and co. Let’s make no mistake, this is some challenge but it’s the perfect rehearsal to get us in stead for next Sunday. With our players looking to impress, can we put a halt to Barcelona’s unstoppable pre season?
Liverpool team first half: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner(c), Wijnaldum, Can, Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino, Mané. Subs: Manninger, Henderson, Grujic, Moreno, Brannagan, Origi, Ings, Matip, Stewart, Wisdom, Markovic, Randall, Alexander-Arnold.
Barcelona team first half: Ter Stegan, Vidal, Mascherano, Mathieu, Cámara, Busquets, Suarez, Turan, Messi, Suárez, Munir. Subs: Bravo, Masip, Iniesta, Douglas, Piqué, Rakitic, Mujica, Samper, Digne, Roberto, Alfaro, Vermaelen.
The first half saw Liverpool set a phenomenal tempo with Mané tearing down the right, a one touch lay off from Lallana, setting up Wijnaldum who couldn’t quite control the chance sending it over the bar. Some good, calm passing in the middle of the park between Can, Wijnaldum and Lallana. Lallana absolutely setting the pace with such a energetic half and after Barcelona just started to edge possession, Lallana’s work paid off intercepting the ball, playing in Firmino on the right who returned the favour, then poked a through ball and Mané’s in! Top right hand corner, great play, great goal 1-0 Liverpool.
Barcalona began to force their way of playing and in the 22nd minute Messi was through on goal, Mignolet rode his luck as Messi hit the post. Milner made a great last ditch tackle after a decent save from Mignolet. The link up of Mané and Clyne was looking promising to say the least. Coutinho and Firmino were mixing it up well, and Coutinho fired a shot just over. On the fortieth minute Suárez was in with a shot from the outside of his foot only to be denied by a excellent save from Mignolet. In the last minute of the half we was at it again, one touch stuff, with pacey counters, Moreno and Firmino linking, setting off yet another speedy run from Mané, unfortunately just offside. Halftime cane, and to be honest, even though Barcelona controlled possession, we looked far superior in attack and within two/ three passes we’d be all over them. So far so good.
Used Liverpool subs: Moreno, Henderson, Origi, Ings, Markovic, Stewart, Grujic.
Used Barcelona subs: Iniesta, Pique, Rakitic, Digne, Mujica, Samper, Alfaro.
An electric start to the second half with Mané at the heart of it again, nicking the ball and giving Origi his first touch out on the right, who fizzed it across goal causing Mascherano to put it in his own goal after being pressurised by Henderson. 2-0, Liverpool fans in dreamland, only seconds later and were in again. This time Stewart strongly snatching back the ball and instantly spotting Origi, who produced a real composed finish, slotting through the keepers legs into the far left corner.
Barcelona surprisingly couldn’t quite break our defence down, Lovren and Klavan offering very clever positioning and reading the game to perfection. Our chances kept coming with Mané constantly trying to use his direct pace on the break, Firmino threatened a goal with a curled chance going wide. Tempo began to slow as Liverpool saw the result out, sitting slightly deeper. Lionel Messi finally getting a shot, only for Lovren to read his movement and block the danger.
As the one sided game neared a end, Grujic put his stamp on the eye catching win, with a incredible looping header that managed to float as if in slow motion over the goalie into the top right corner. Brilliant performance for the reds, speed, accuracy and pressing up top and a solid steel in defence. Who’d of guessed it, four goals and a clean sheet, play the pre season card all you like but I was very impressed, pure high pressure football but with real purpose, everyone knew the plan and it was clear to see. The second highest attendance at Wembley at 89,845, a nice stat for the Liverpool history book. My man of the match has to be Sadio Mané, non stop attack, clever on the ball and frightening pace. Full time 4-0!(rub eyes) yes 4-0!
The result helped after more bad news on Sturridge, set to miss the start of the season with yet another hip injury. Let’s hope it’s minor, but on the bright side we still have goals from all over the pitch without Sturridge and after watching that, maybe we can cope this time round, attacking wise. The Sturridge or Origi debate calms for now, but don’t write off Sturridge just yet.
It’s hard not to get carried away after that!
Written by Ben Webb (benwebblfc)