Barcelona v Liverpool
Live on BT Sport 2
Hosts eyeing trophy treble
If you had to pick a way to prepare for your biggest match of the season, your answer might go something like this: win, at half speed, to wrap up the league title with a few games to spare, meaning you can rest players freely from here on in. That's exactly what Barcelona did at the weekend, with the only real downside being the fact that celebrations were probably far more tame than they otherwise might have been.
With the Copa del Rey final still to come, a historic treble beckons. But the priority this season has always been the Champions League: Lionel Messi stated as such in the summer, and there has been a desire behind the scenes to reassert some authority on the greatest stage of all, after years of Real Madrid dominance. Now, they are just three games away.
This is their toughest task yet, and not all is perfect. Ousmane Dembélé is yet to hit top gear after injury, while Philippe Coutinho has flattered to deceive all season. But the defence has tightened up, to the tune of six clean sheets in seven, proving there's more than one way to skin a cat. Plus there's always You Know Who at the sharp end of the attack.
Liverpool in the groove
Liverpool's situation is rather different: they're fighting tooth and nail for a long-awaited domestic title. There are potential knock-on effects as far as fitness goes - the games are coming thick and fast, and their squad isn't the biggest - but you could also argue that they are very much in the zone, psychologically. Success breeds success, and their superb run of 10 consecutive wins means belief will not be lacking.
The contrast with their fraught group stage and their efforts in the knockout stages could not be more stark. They made short work of Bayern Munich and cruised past Porto to set up this tie, and it's hard to imagine a Jürgen Klopp side being overwhelmed at the prospect of playing at Camp Nou, for all its mystique. Liverpool will be up for this, and well aware that an away goal would be hugely valuable.
Their chances of scoring one would be dented by the absence of Roberto Firmino, who missed the win over Huddersfield with a muscle problem. Klopp was keen to play down the seriousness of the injury, but will also be wary of rushing the forward back, so there may be a start for Divock Origi, whose physical presence and pace might earn him the nod over Daniel Sturridge.
Reds can cause problems
Disregarding Super Cup games, Barcelona have lost just one of their last 82 competitive outings at Camp Nou. The word 'imposing' springs to mind, and it is perhaps little surprise that they are rated as 1.9520/21 favourites here.
Yet we like Liverpool's chances of making life difficult for their hosts. Barcelona's improved record at the back has come against some fairly middling opposition (Man United, Huesca, Alavés, Levante), and there are few teams in Spain that are willing to really go at them like Liverpool can.
There will probably be some caution on Klopp's mind, but even if he unleashes the full rock-and-roll fever for a short spell, the Reds can cause problems - particularly down Mo Salah's flank, where Jordi Alba leaves gaps and Clément Lenglet can be outpaced. Liverpool +0.5 looks a tempting option at 2.0521/20.
Goals on the cards?
Our best angle, however, is to look at the goal markets. After a dry spell a couple of months ago (three 0-0 draws in four games), Liverpool have really found their attacking rhythm, with Salah and Sadio Mané both in imperious form. And while their defence, marshalled by Virgil van Dijk, is also a major point of strength, Barcelona haven't failed to score at home since February 2018.
Both teams to score is 1.664/6, but we can supplement that with an over 2.5 goals pick using the Same Game Multi function in the Sportsbook and the 1.9210/11 looks a good price.
Messi can weave magic
Messi's minutes have been managed by Ernesto Valverde over the last few weeks, so he will be raring to go here. Barcelona's talisman already has 46 goals to his name this term, and is 1.845/6 to make it 47.