Barcelona v Liverpool: Why Roberto Firmino is going to be vital for the Reds

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 02:02 01/05/2019
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While maintaining the pressure on Manchester City in the league, Liverpool shift their attention to Europe as they visit Camp Nou to face Barcelona with the hopes of taking something back to Anfield.

The consistency shown by both clubs has been commendable and the tie promises to be a cracker between equals.

Apart from key-battles on the pitch, Jurgen Klopp and Ernesto Valverde will be putting their wits to the test on the sidelines.

We take a look at the tactics Klopp could turn to in this blockbuster of a fixture.

Click here if you wish to see how Barca will navigate this tie 

FIRMINO TO PLAY A KEY ROLE 

Unlike a traditional No9, Roberto Firmino likes to play deep and provide supporting runs when Mohamed Salah takes the initiative. This feature of his game will be very useful against a team employing a high defensive line.

With the full-backs advancing and Sergio Busquets dropping, Barcelona will shift into a back three. Firmino’s movement can pull Busquets or one of the centre-backs forward, leaving the hosts susceptible to a quick transition on either of the wing.

Both Salah and Sadio Mane are potent on the counter and can exploit the space left by Barcelona’s full-backs. Firmino’s speed means that he can then join the attacks in their final phase to add more bodies in the box.

HENDERSON AND TAA TO PIN DOWN ALBA

Immobilising Jordi Alba has to be a key tactic for Liverpool, both from a defensive and attacking perspective. Jordan Henderson might have to drift wide to help Trent Alexander-Arnold suffocate the Barcelona left-back.

By keeping the Spaniard from getting into dangerous areas and exchanging passes with Lionel Messi, Liverpool will cross out one major threat that has troubled most defences this season.

Of all full-backs in the world, Alba – despite entering his 30’s – is one of the few who is capable of matching Salah’s pace and preventing his advances. With Henderson and Alexander-Arnold suffocating Alba to the touchline, Salah will have the freedom to wreak havoc from the half-space, outpacing Clement Lenglet and having a sight at goal.

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