Barcelona travel to Anfield on Tuesday, knowing that only a mammoth collapse would prevent them from reaching their first final in the UEFA Champions League since 2015.
The Spanish giants are in complete control of the tie courtesy of their flattering 3-0 triumph in the first leg at Camp Nou last week, but lovers of the game rember how the club squandered a three-goal first-leg lead versus AS Roma of Italy in last season’s quarter-finals.
Barca should be fresh after they made a full 11 changes at the weekend, although their 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo did end an unbeaten streak which stretched back to January.
However, The Catalans are mulling over some injury and suspension news for Barcelona ahead of their trip to Merseyside on Tuesday.
Ousmane Dembele lasted only six minutes of the weekend defeat to Celta before limping off with what Valverde later confirmed was a hamstring tear, which could keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.
Rafinha has interestingly been named in Barcelona’s travelling squad for this match, despite still being sidelined with a ligament injury which will keep him out until next season.
Fortunately, though, Barcelona have no players suspended for this high-voltage match, ahead of which they rested several key players for last weekend’s La Liga fixture against Celta de Vigo.
Celta Vigo beat a much-changed Barcelona 2-0 at Estadio de Balaidos to take a big step towards securing LaLiga survial.
With the title long secure, Barcelona manager, Ernesto Valverde opted to change the whole starting XI from the Champions League’s match against Liverpool, resting key players for next week’s second leg.
Dembele, though, lasted less than 10 minutes before he was forced off with what looked like a hamstring problem, while defender Jean-Clair Todibo also went off during the second half, but Valverde hoped the problem was not serious.
Maxi Gomez broke the deadlock in the 67th minute before Iago Aspas wrapped things up with a late penalty, given for handball following a Video Assistant Referee referral.
Celta Vigo move five points clear of the relegation zone to 14th place, while Barca slipped to a first LaLiga defeat since November.
Valverde admitted afterwards that the loss of Dembele to a hamstring problem early in the 2-0 defeat at Celta Vigo will be a “major blow” to their end-of-season ambitions.
With the LaLiga title already secure, Valverde opted to rest several key men at Estadio de Balaidos ahead of next week’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool.
While the defeat, a first in the league since November, will not in itself be a major issue on the campaign, losing another attacking option could be.
Velverde spoke after the club’s medics confirmed that Dembele had suffered a muscular injury in his right hamstring and was set for further tests to establish the full extent of the problem.
“He is an important player for us and it is a major blow with the big games we have coming up. I didn’t replace him with Philippe Coutinho as I didn’t want to run any more risks,” Valverde submitted.