Barcelona will host Liverpool at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night in the first leg of what promises to be an incredible Champions League semi final matchup.
The Blaugrana have already knocked one English side out of this year’s tournament, advancing through the quarter-finals by convincingly beating Manchester United 4-0 on aggregate.
Liverpool had no trouble in the previous round of the competition either, dispatching last season’s Portuguese champions, Porto, by an aggregate score of 6-1. The Reds are fighting for their second straight Champions League final appearance.
Here’s the combined XI between two of Europe’s most electrifying teams ahead of their exciting matchup on Wednesday night.
RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold
20-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold has quickly become one of the best right backs in the world over the past two seasons since taking over the regular starting role under Jurgen Klopp. Alexander-Arnold has provided 11 assists for his side this season, an incredible return for a defender.
The England international was recently named to the PFA Team of the Season and will be keen on making it three straight matches with an assist against Barca on Wednesday.
CB – Virgil van Dijk
Arguably the best centre-back in the world at the moment, Van Dijk deservedly won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award this past weekend. The Dutchman has been instrumental in Liverpool keeping up with Manchester City in the Premier League and making it back to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Van Dijk has emerged as a leader of this team throughout the course of this campaign and will need to be at his best to slow down one of the best forward lines in all of football.
CB – Gerard Pique
At 32 years old, Pique is currently having one of his best seasons at the Camp Nou since moving from Manchester United in 2008. After retiring from the Spanish national team, Pique has had more time to focus on club football and it has shown on the pitch.
While the Spaniard has regularly been paired with an out-of-form or injured centre-back and has had to pick up the slack throughout the entire campaign, Pique has stood out as the clear leader of the back four.
LB – Andrew Robertson
It’s hard to leave out Jordi Alba but Andrew Robertson has arguably been the left back in the world this season. Robertson has provided an outstanding 13 assists in all competitions for the Reds this season, and his work ethic on the pitch is second to none.
Liverpool’s entire system relies on the full backs getting up and down the pitch to create mismatches anywhere possible, and Robertson fulfils this role for Klopp perfectly week in and week out.
RCM – Ivan Rakitic
While rumours of his exit from the Camp Nou have circled around all season, Rakitic has continued to be one of Barcelona’s most consistent players. The Croatian midfielder is a creative workhorse for the Blaugrana and will quickly spring his side on the attack if Liverpool are caught too far up the pitch.
The 31-year-old has featured in every Champions League match for Barca this season and will be keen on adding to his five goals and nine assists in all competitions.
CDM – Sergio Busquets
At 30 years old, Sergio Busquets continues to be one of the best in the world. Busquets is one of the best at his position, sitting in front of his back four in order to pull the strings from a deep-lying position.
The Spaniard is never fazed by opposing pressure and this trait may be Barca’s best asset against the Reds’ high-pressing system.
LCM – Fabinho
Fabinho has taken a bit of time to get accustomed to Klopp’s system, but since he’s been healthy he has provided the Reds with an outlet similar to Busquets.
The Brazilian is one of the most versatile players on the pitch, with the ability to put in a tackle and turn around to ping a 70-metre ball directly into the path of Mohamed Salah.
RW – Lionel Messi
While Liverpool boasts the top goalscorer in the Premier League, Barcelona are lucky enough to have the best player on the planet in their squad. Messi continues to amaze viewers whether he is weaving through opposing defences or adding to his remarkable free-kick record.
Messi will be keen on closing the gap between himself and Cristiano Ronaldo by winning his fifth Champions League title.
ST – Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez has proven all of his doubters wrong with another strong season at the Camp Nou. Many supporters were calling for Barca to begin looking for a replacement, but the Uruguayan has stepped up and scored 24 goals and provided 12 assists this season.
Suarez has vowed to celebrate against his former club if he scores in this fixture so all eyes will be on the 32-year-old when he returns to Anfield on 7 May.
LW – Sadio Mane
The 27-year-old Senegal international has been fantastic in big matches for the Reds throughout the campaign. Mane has scored 24 goals this season, including two against Bayern Munich and one against Porto in the previous knockout rounds of the Champions League.
Mane will be crucial for the Reds if they are to move on to their second consecutive Champions League final over Barcelona.