Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Champions League
semi-final first leg between Barcelona
at Camp Nou.
These two sides have lifted the famous trophy five times apiece since its inauguration in 1992-93, but the Reds have not gone all the way since 2005 and Barca are competing in the semis for the first time in four years.
The home side wrapped up an eighth La Liga crown in 11 seasons last weekend and are still on course for a famous treble, while their opponents are locked in a tense Premier League title race with Manchester City, sitting one point off the summit with two games to go.
The first of the semi-finals took place on Tuesday evening, and it is Ajax who hold a big advantage ahead of their second leg with Tottenham Hotspur thanks to a 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Donny van de Beek scored the only goal of the match to give the Dutch visitors what was a deserved victory. There is still a long way to go in that tie, of course, and this second semi is expected to be just as tight.
LIVERPOOL TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Mane, Wijnaldum
SUBS: Mignolet, Lovren, Firmino, Henderson, Shaqiri, Origi, Alexander-Arnold
There is some big team news from Liverpool's perspective as Joe Gomez is brought in for his first start since early December, taking over from Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, while Roberto Firmino misses out on a place in the starting lineup.
Firmino missed the Huddersfield Town match with a small groin tear and, despite returning to training on the eve of this match, he is not fit enough to feature from the off.
Rather than retain Daniel Sturridge through the middle of his attack, however, Jurgen Klopp
has decided to change things around.
It looks as though Georginio Wijnaldum will join Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the frontline - though it could easily be a 4-4-2 formation of sorts which could see the Reds control the midfield battle.
James Milner, Fabinho and Naby Keita are given the nod in midfield, meaning that Jordan Henderson - surprisingly - has to settle for a place on the bench.
Joel Matip also returns in defence alongside Virgil van Dijk, the PFA Player of the Year, taking over from Dejan Lovren.
Matip is one of four new faces from the Huddersfield win five days ago, along with Gomez, Milner and Fabinho, who has been struggling with a minor head injury.
Klopp has made some surprise selection decisions tonight, not all of them enforced. Elsewhere, there is no Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench.
BARCELONA TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets Vidal; Messi, Suarez, Coutinho
SUBS: Cillessen, Nelson Semedo, Arthur, Dembele, Malcom, Umtiti, Alena
Like opposite number Klopp, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde
also had some big selection calls to make tonight. The first of those was at right-back, where Sergi Roberto gets the nod over Nelson Semedo, while on the left of the midfield three Arturo Vidal is preferred to Arthur, which could be down to his physical presence.
The other big call is up top, where ex-Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho gets the nod over the benched Ousmane Dembele.
Aged 29 years and 210 days on average, Barcelona's starting XI is the oldest they have ever fielded for a Champions League match. That is a staggering statistic, and it says a lot that Valverde has decided to go with Vidal over Arthur in midfield.
Barca's starting lineup is otherwise as expected, spearheaded by arguably the greatest player that has ever lived in Lionel Messi - he has scored 24 goals in 32 Champions League meetings with English sides.
There is another former Liverpool player in Barca's ranks - one-time fan favourite Luis Suarez
, who scored 82 goals in 133 matches for them.
Suarez was always going to get the nod through the middle today, but Valverde could easily have selected Dembele over Coutinho out on the left.
Elsewhere, Sergio Busquets is restored in central midfield after sitting out the weekend win over Levante, while Ivan Rakitic completes the midfield three.
Liverpool are without injured striker Roberto Firmino tonight, with the Brazil international - so pivotal to the Reds' 4-3-3 formation - only fit enough for a place on the bench.
Joe Gomez comes in at right-back in a surprise recall, leaving Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench in one of four changes. As for Barcelona, Philippe Coutinho and Arturo Vidal are preferred to Ousmane Dembele and Arthur.
Liverpool have never lost in four previous away meetings with Barcelona in all competitions (W2 D2) - against no other side do they have a better unbeaten away record in all European competition (also four vs. Porto).
The Reds are the only English side to win away at Barca in European competition, beating them 1-0 in the 1975-76 UEFA Cup and 2-1 in the 2006-07 Champions League.
Barcelona are competing in their first Champions League semi-final since winning the competition in 2015, having crashed out at the quarter-final stage three years running.
The Catalan giants have been dominant in a domestic sense during that period, but their lack of European success has been a let down, even more so as Real Madrid have enjoyed a clean sweep of trophies up until this season.
Valverde's men secured back-to-back titles by beating Levante 1-0 last weekend, getting the job done with time to spare thanks to Messi's goal from the bench.
It is now five titles in the last seven seasons for Barca, with Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid winning one apiece during that run. Going further back they have finished top of the La Liga standings in eight of the last 11 campaigns.
Add four successive Copas del Rey to the equation and it is fair to say that Barca are the most dominant force in Spanish football.
In fact, it could be a fifth Copa del Rey on the spin as they face Valencia in the final later this month, leaving them on course for a famous treble, something they have only achieved twice before.
Despite all that, Valverde is still barely given any credit from the outside.
Valverde knows that it is the Champions League that really counts, and he has set about ending the club's recent hoodoo in the competition by guiding them into the semi-finals.
Unlike last-four opponents Liverpool, Barcelona can fully focus on these two legs as they have sorted the title with time so spare.
Saturday's trip to Celta Vigo is now a dead-rubber, as are their matches against Getafe and Eibar over the next fortnight.
Barcelona have been knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Roma over the last three seasons, but having made it this far they are now considered the favourites to lift the famous trophy for a sixth time.
However, they have only progressed from one of their four previous European Cup semi-finals against English opposition, losing to Leeds United in 2007-08, Manchester United in 2007-08 and Chelsea in 2011-12.
Their solitary victory came against Chelsea in 2009-09, before going on to beat Man United in the Rome final.
The Spanish champions are unbeaten in 31 home Champions League matches - the best-ever run in the competition - and have conceded just 15 goals across those games, never more than once in a single match. Still, from Liverpool's perspective a score draw tonight would be a great outcome.
Barca have already beaten some big opposition to make it this far, finishing top of a group that contained Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven, before knocking out Lyon and Man United.
Barca scored eight goals across the two home legs of their knockout-round ties, but they had the advantage of playing home in the second leg.
On this occasion, it may be a cagier affair as neither side will want to give anything away heading into next week's return match on Merseyside. The question is, which side would a goalless draw favour tonight, if any?
Lionel Messi has scored 24 goals in 32 Champions League appearances against English opposition, but he has failed to net in his two previous encounters with Liverpool.
Barcelona are one goal away from a landmark 500 in the competition - only bitter rivals Real Madrid (551) have scored more.
DID YOU KNOW?
Barcelona have won more Champions League games against English sides (27) than any team has won against clubs from a particular nation in the competition's history.
The Catalan giants' most recent triumphs against Premier League opposition was in the last round when beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford and 3-0 at Camp Nou.
Liverpool have won five Champions League titles but none since 2005 when famously beating AC Milan on penalties after trailing 3-0 at half time.
The Reds had not really made too much impact on the Champions League over the last decade prior to last season when putting together a magical run that took them all the way to the final, overcoming Porto, Roma and Manchester City in the knockouts before losing 3-1 to Madrid in the final.
This time around, Klopp's men came through a tough group that also included Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli. If not for a tight win over the Italian side on the final matchday, secured thanks to Alisson's late save, they would not have made it past the first hurdle.
Since then, though, they have defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 over two legs and Porto 6-1 to set up this mouthwatering clash in Catalonia.
The Reds drew 0-0 with Bayern on home soil and many questioned whether they had it in them to go to the Allianz Stadium and win. They proved their doubters wrong, though, not for the first time, but coming away with a 3-1 win in the second leg.
Porto was a different type of test, one that they passed with flying colours by essentially getting the job done inside the opening quarter of the first leg. No matter the opposition, the Merseyside outfit tend to get the job done these days.
Liverpool are through to the semi-finals for the 11th time, progressing from eight of their previous 10. Only in 1964-65 and 2007-08, against Inter Milan and Chelsea respectively, have they fallen short at this penultimate hurdle.
A word of caution, though - the Reds have not won three consecutive away games in the Champions League, which they can achieve today, since a run of five between September 1983 and September 1984.
Klopp's men have won 10 games in a row overall and are unbeaten in 19 matches since losing back-to-back matches at the turn of the year.
It has to be remembered that Liverpool are without one of their key men tonight, though, as Firmino has been named on the bench.
Only club legend Steven Gerrard (21) has scored more goals in the competition for the Reds than Mane, Salah and Firmino, who are tied on 14 each.
It is down to Salah and Mane to lead the line in Firmino's absence, possibly joined in attack by one of Wijnaldum or Keita - that will become clearer in around 10 minutes' time.
With five matches of their season to go, this campaign could still end trophyless for Liverpool or potentially with a double being won, making it the most famous year in their history.
The picture will become a lot clearer over the next fortnight as they face Newcastle United (a) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) in their final two Premier League matches, sandwiched by this double-header against Barcelona.
Is one competition being prioritised over the other? Possibly, judging by tonight's team selection.
Liverpool struggled away from home in the group phase, losing on their travels to Napoli, Red Star Belgrade and Paris Saint-Germain, but they beat Bayern Munich and Porto in the knockout rounds.
The Reds are unbeaten in their last nine away matches overall and have won five in a row. Not since May 2006 have they managed to win six on the bounce on their travels.
Remember, though, Klopp's men do not necessarily have to win today. Even a defeat could be a positive if they score!
Both sets of players are now out on the field of play at Camp Nou and we are moments away from kickoff. Liverpool's tactics have baffled us all - will it be 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, a midfield diamond?
Barcelona's set up is far easier to decipher, as they stick with their tried and tested 4-3-3. This really should be a fascinating encounter.
As a neutral, fingers crossed for some goals between these two heavyweight clubs!
Liverpool get us up and running at Camp Nou! It looks as though it will indeed be a midfield diamond for Liverpool, with Wijnaldum at the tip of it.
Seven of Barcelona's starters today also started the 2015 final against Juventus.
Salah wriggles away from Alba and gets a shot away in the box which is blocked. Barca take an age to clear the ball but clear it they do.
This has been a positive start to the match from the visitors, though you may remember Man United also started on top here last month before being comfortably beaten.
Messi tries to get on the end of Coutinho's pass but Wijnaldum reads it well and gets to the ball before the Argentinian maestro.
From the next attack, Rakitic plays a quick one-two and should probably shoot from six yards, opting instead to cut it back and seeing the ball blocked by Matip for a corner.
Mane gets the wrong side of Pique and is sent to the ground by his opponent. There was definitely contact but Mane did look to lose control of the ball.
Referee Bjorn Kuipers puts his whistle to his mouth but does not blow. He is not even asked to review the decision by the VAR officials - strange.
There is a nice flow to the game in the opening 10 minutes. Barcelona have got in behind once already but Liverpool have had the most dangerous moment, with Mane being sent tumbling by Pique in the box.
It may not have been a penalty, but it was a very strong shout at the very least.
This is the 13th meeting between the sides and their first in more than a decade since Liverpool won 2-1 here to progress through on away goals in a last-16 tie in 2007.
Liverpool are seeing a lot more of the ball than expected, with Barca perhaps wary of the counter-attacking threat.
Salah skips away from Lenglet but the attack breaks down on the edge of the box. Possession is turned over and a cross is sent into the middle, but it has too much on it for Salah to attack.
Klopp will be very happy with the way his side have started this match.
Liverpool have had 57% of the ball in the opening 15 minutes - not many teams boast those sort of stats at Camp Nou.
Messi has not really been involved in the match, though Alba did get behind a few moments ago and nearly cut the ball back for the Argentinian forward, only for Robertson to intercept the pass.
In amongst all that, Messi had a penalty shout turned down. He flicked the ball on to Van Dijk's hand from a yard - no chance was the experienced official going to point to the spot.
Barcelona are starting to grow into the match. Messi carries the ball forward and the loose ball drops into the path of Coutinho, whose trademark curler does not have enough bend on it to force Alisson into anything other than a routine save.
Coutinho then flashes one wide of the target but he was stood in an offside position so it would not have counted.
Messi is STILL complaining about the handball decision. Liverpool had a far bigger shout turned down earlier in the match!
The Reds win a free kick on the edge of the box and Robertson crosses it towards Van Dijk, but a Barcelona players gets to it first.
Keita is down on the ground for the second time in the space of a few minutes and he may well have to be replaced. The midfielder is holding his groin, so Klopp has sent Henderson to warm up.
Keita has made his way off the field and the substitution will be made shortly, but Henderson is not quite ready to come on yet so Liverpool are down to 10 men.
The game has become very stop-start over the last seven or eight minutes - can Barcelona regain some momentum?
Robertson creates some space for himself in a left-sided position in the box but his cross is cleared.
There is another dangerous moment for the Reds moments later as Mane tries to shoot but he cannot find a route through on goal with his attempt.
Keita has finally been replaced by Henderson, giving Liverpool a full complement of players once again.
GOAL! BARCELONA 1-0 LIVERPOOL (LUIS SUAREZ)
Suarez scores his 25th goal of the season, and his first in the Champions League, with a deft little finish from close range.
Alba fed the ball through and ex-Liverpool striker Suarez got the smallest of touches to the pass to take it past Alisson, who ironically is the last keeper he scored against in this competition last season.
Van Dijk and Matip were caught out by that superb pass in behind from Alba. Liverpool cannot afford to drop their heads - they had performed well before that setback and have plenty of time to respond.
Barcelona have scored through the first real chance of the game.
Messi produces some magic down the right but his cross is cut out by Gomez. Barcelona have pushed on since opening the scoring and clearly want a second goal.
Suarez scored his first Champions League goal of the season through his 36th shot. It was also Barcelona's landmark 500th in the competition.
Barca are well on top, with some quick passing down the left carving Liverpool open. The cutback into the middle from Rakitic is cut out by Matip.
Alba is proving the key player, constantly providing a threat down the Barca left.
Liverpool are plugging away themselves, though, and if not for Roberto's header at the back post Mane would have had a simple finish.
The corner is not great, but Ter Stegen elects to punch it rather than catching - not that it matters, as the ball is cleared away by one of his teammates.
Liverpool come forward again and Mane guides Henderson's through-ball over the bar with a first-time shot. The Senegalese, in great form, should have been doing better after doing the hard work by getting in behind.
Barca have had plenty of promising moments in the first half, but Liverpool have also been bright and have created a big opportunity of their own, which Mane could not take a couple of minutes ago.
The home side's tempo has dropped, with the Reds ending the first half - which has flown by - on top.
Salah turns on the edge of the box and his shot is blocked. Milner has a go from similar range and it drifts wide of the target.
A floated ball aimed towards Mane is then plucked out of the air by Ter Stegen. This is a strong end to the half form Klopp's men.
Lenglet pulls back on Salah and becomes the first player to be shown a yellow card.
Liverpool have performed well in this first half. They will likely go into half time a goal behind but Klopp will not be too downbeat.
Milner fouls Messi to concede a free kick, and that challenge has not gone down well with the home supporters. Milner barged into his opponent after the ball had gone but Messi made the most of it.
There is just a minute of normal time to play at the end of the first half. Barca have not offered a great deal over the last 10 minutes, with Liverpool's defenders doing well to keep Messi quiet.
Possession has been split exactly 50-50 down the middle, showing just how tight the game has been.
Coutinho does well to link up play in the final third. Suarez tries to float the ball back into the Brazilian's path but he is off balance and cannot get a shot away.
Three minutes have been added on at the end of the first half because of the stoppage for Keita's injury a little earlier.
Alba does brilliantly to stop Robertson picking out a teammate when released in the box. Liverpool have put together some very good attacking moves, but the end product has often been lacking.
HALF TIME: BARCELONA 1-0 LIVERPOOL
Barcelona take a one-goal lead into half time of this Champions League semi-final tie through Suarez's strike after 26 minutes. The Reds have more than held their own, though, and Klopp will argue that his side do not deserve to be behind at this point.
was without first-choice centre-forward Roberto Firmino and he took the surprise decision to hand fit-again defender Joe Gomez a first start since December at right-back. Barcelona had two ex-Liverpool attackers in their starting ranks, meanwhile, and it was one of those who made the only major impact in the first half.
Jordi Alba played a fine pass in behind and Luis Suarez made the most of some static defending to flick the ball past Alisson Becker
with a deft touch inside the six-yard box, ending his year-long draught without a goal in this competition. Philippe Coutinho, the other of Barca's ex-Liverpool men, also got a shot on target but Alisson was equal to his compatriot's trademark curler.
Liverpool more than held their own in the opening 45 minutes, however, and were a little unlucky to go into half time a goal behind. After having an early penalty appeal rejected following a slight push from Gerard Pique, Sadio Mane guided a first-time shot over the crossbar after being picked out by Jordan Henderson, who was brought on for injured teammate Naby Keita.
BARCELONA SUBS: Cillessen, Nelson Semedo, Arthur, Dembele, Malcom, Umtiti, Alena
LIVERPOOL SUBS: Mignolet, Lovren, Firmino, Henderson, Shaqiri, Origi, Alexander-Arnold
KICKOFF: Barcelona get the second half underway at Camp Nou. Matip crashes into the back of Suarez seconds into the half and the Uruguayan striker makes the most of it to say the least - not like him at all!
Ter Stegen has his first serious save to make. A loose ball falls to Milner and the midfielder has a clean shot at goal.
It is not in the corner, though, and Ter Stegen was always expected to get across and push it to safety.
Barcelona have been nowhere near their best tonight, which is testament to Liverpool. The Reds have started the second half in a very positive manner, knowing the importance of an away goal.
Mane is given a pass to chase down but Ter Stegen gets to it first.
Valverde's side do not really look as though they want to attack - they may feel a 1-0 win is good enough to take into the second leg as they will be confident of netting at Anfield.
The game is there for the taking from Liverpool's perspective, though - they can easily score tonight if they get the final ball right.
Salah, who has not been able to test Ter Stegen up until this point, creates something out of nothing. The Egyptian forward's shot from range is heading for the bottom corner, requiring a strong hand from Ter Stegen down to his right.
The visitors are closing in on a goal that would completely change the complexion of the tie.
There is another stoppage in play as Lenglet has a facial injury. It was his own teammate, Roberto, who caught him with a hand to the face when defending the Liverpool corner.
Barca have no real rhythm to their play in this second half. Valverde may be tempted to make a change.
Liverpool hit Barca on the counter but Robertson's right-sided cross is cut out. The home side are playing a dangerous game, seemingly sitting back on this one-goal lead.
Semedo is being readied to come on for Roberto in a like-for-like change at right-back.
SAVE! HUGE, HUGE CHANCE FOR LIVERPOOL!
Salah controls the ball with a sublime touch down the right. Wijnaldum dummies the ball once it is cut back and Milner bullets it goalwards, but it is aimed right at Ter Stegen.
The Barca keeper has now produced three big saves in this second half.
Semedo is brought on, but it is not Roberto who he replaces. Coutinho is taken off so Valverde is doubling up down the left-hand side, worried by Liverpool's attacking threat down that flank.
The Reds will see this as an opportunity missed if they do not find a way through.
We know all about Semedo's pace, but not even he is quick enough to keep this overhit pass in play.
Liverpool have momentum on their side and need to make it count, with 25 minutes left to play.
Vidal has a chance to shoot from a rare home attack but elects to square the ball and it is cut out.
Lenglet glances the corner goalwards but it drops a couple of yards wide of the post. Barca have finally managed to grow back into the game over the last few minutes.
Klopp will be hoping that his side's big chance to score a crucial away goal has not gone begging. Time is fast ticking down.
Gomez sends the ball in from deep and Mane flicks it on, but nobody in a Liverpool top was there to gamble at the back post.
This is good pressure from the Reds as they pen their opponents in. Roberto gets across to prevent the dangerous Robertson from getting a cross into the box.
Liverpool are having to work harder since Semedo was introduced out wide. Barcelona are definitely content with a 1-0 win but you still get the impression that Liverpool will score.
A cross into the box hits Robertson on the back deflects into the path of Ter Stegen.
Klopp must surely be tempted to turn to his bench to freshen things up slightly.
That game has become very stop-start once again over the last five minutes, which will suit Barcelona more so than Liverpool.
Barca are not committing any bodies forward so it is effectively attack against defence now as we approach the final 15 minutes.
Dembele has been sent to warm up, leading to cheers from the home fans - they want to see some more attacking intent. Liverpool have had three shots on target in this second half; Barcelona have had none.
GOAL! BARCELONA 2-0 LIVERPOOL (LIONEL MESSI)
Messi doubles Barcelona's tally against the run of play to leave Liverpool with a mountain to climb.
The Argentinian forward carried the ball forward and a fortunate deflection took it into Suarez's path. The shot came back off the crossbar and Messi was there to walk it into the net.
As lucky as you like! Barca did not really look interested in scoring a second but they have one.
STAT! Messi has now scored against all six English sides he has faced in the Champions League, becoming only the second player to score against six different sides from the same country in the competition (also Cristiano Ronaldo vs. English sides).
LIVERPOOL SUB! Firmino comes on for Wijnaldum with 11 minutes to go at Camp Nou. Liverpool really could do with an away goal now - a 2-1 loss would actually be considered an OK result by Klopp, you would imagine.
Alba creates some space out wide - nothing new there - and he finds Suarez in the middle. The striker cannot get a shot away so tries to pick out Messi, but Matip defends the danger.
All of a sudden it is the home side who are dominating possession, buoyed by their second goal of the night.
Fabinho blocks Messi's path and is shown a yellow card. Luis Suarez also appeared to have entered the referee's book for something he said to the official.
Messi stands over the free kick from around 30 yards out...
GOAL! BARCELONA 3-0 LIVERPOOL (LIONEL MESSI)
This is truly incredible from Messi. He comes up with the goods once again by sending the 30-yard free kick over the wall and right into the top corner of the net.
Alisson dives across to his right but cannot get a fingertip to the ball. That is surely tie over!
CHANCE! WHAT A MISS!
Mane is through on goal but cannot get a shot away. Firmino can but his shot is blocked on the line.
The rebound falls to Salah six yards from goal but he fails to find a half-empty net, instead picking out the post.
That second goal for Messi was his 600th at club level, matching Ronaldo in that regard. It really is a case of anything you can do, I can do better!
Liverpool should be leaving here with a 1-1 draw; it is now 3-0 and the tie is effectively over.
Alba is booked for his challenge, while Mane is given a telling off for following through on Rakitic.
Liverpool are bombarding the Barcelona box but there is no way through. The Reds had three good chances at 1-0 and failed to take each of those opportunities.
Vidal times his challenge on Gomez to perfection, but Liverpool have a throw-in deep inside the opposition half.
The long throw is cleared, as is Henderson's flick-on. Vidal is helping out defensively as we enter the second of five added-on minutes.
Vidal grabs Mane's hair and the Senegalese forward slaps his opponent in the face - that is a straight red card offence had the officials spotted it. No VAR check?
Barca work a three-on-three counter but Robertson's pace bails them out, diving in on Suarez's to stop the striker from teeing up Messi.
Suarez is replaced by Dembele for the closing stages, while Roberto is replaced by Alena in the last of the hosts' changes.
CHANCE! Barcelona hit their opponents on the counter once again but Dembele shoots straight at Alisson from a one-on-one position. What a huge chance to kill off the tie for good!
FULL TIME: BARCELONA 3-0 LIVERPOOL
Barcelona beat Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash. Former Reds fan favourite Suarez opened the scoring for Barca 26 minutes in and Messi took over with a couple of goals in the space of seven second-half minutes, the second a sublime free kick past Alisson.
The Reds missed three good opportunities before Messi's brace, however, and Salah also hit the post late in the match, giving hope of a magical comeback in the return fixture next week. A Barca goal at Anfield, though, and it really will be game over.
Thanks for joining Sports Mole
's coverage today. Until next time, goodbye!
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