Champions League Soccer

The second Champions League semifinal takes place Wednesday as FC Barcelona hosts Liverpool FC at the Camp Nou.

Both teams come in carrying lengthy win streaks in all competitions, which will create a terrific matchup in this first leg.

FC Barcelona (-110)

Barcelona enter the clash Wednesday on a 12-match unbeaten streak, including 10 wins. Their last loss came on March 6 at Girona, but since then, Barcelona has been on a tear. They advanced to the Champions League semifinals by defeating Lyon 5-1 on aggregate in the round of 16 and Manchester United 4-0 on aggregate in the quarterfinals.

Last weekend, Barca wrapped up the La Liga title with a win against Levante, so they will throw everything into winning Champions League and the Copa del Rey. Leading Barca throughout Champions League, naturally, has been the wizardry of Lionel Messi, who leads the competition with 10 goals. He also has 3 assists. Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba added four assists each for La Blaugrana, who seek to book a short trip to Madrid for the Champions League final.

Liverpool FC (+315)

Liverpool has been hot lately, with a 19-match unbeaten streak dating back to January 7. They’ve won their last 10 matches in all competitions. They arrive at the Champions League semifinals with wins over Bayern Munich (3-1 aggregate) in the round of 16 and FC Porto (6-1 aggregate) in the quarterfinals.

The big story for Liverpool in Wednesday’s match is attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino, who underwent a fitness test Tuesday to determine his readiness to start at the Camp Nou following a leg injury. Without him in Liverpool’s 4-3-3 attack, the likes of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah will need to step up. Liverpool is also in a fight for the Premier League title, sitting 1 point behind current leaders Manchester City. Their main stars need to be ready to go the distance from here on out to bring Liverpool its first Champions League trophy since 2005 and its first English league title since 1990.

Analysis

Liverpool will try to restrict Barcelona’s attack in the hopes they can counter quickly and get a crucial away goal. However, Barcelona at home during this time of year is a team that is difficult to beat. While Liverpool will keep it close in the first half, it will be Lionel Messi that rules the day. He’ll grab two goals, including one from a free kick (+700), so taking Barcelona at -110 is the best bet for this semifinal first leg, one that will see Barcelona pulling away late from Liverpool.


Story by Donald Wine II. For more soccer coverage, visit BetAmerica Extra.