Barcelona hosts Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday. It is the battle of the Croatians, as Ivan Rakitić and Dejan Lovren meet, reports Gol.hr on April 30, 2019.
Unlike Tottenham and Ajax, who, contrary to all expectations, advanced to the Champions League semi-final, Barcelona and Liverpool, the more likely clubs in this stage of the competition, are two ‘heavyweight clubs that have won 10 European titles overall.
Interestingly, both Barcelona and Liverpool have five titles, and both clubs have been defeated three times in the final.
Barcelona’s last final was in 2015 when they won the Champions League title, while Liverpool lost to Real Madrid last summer and has been waiting to wear the European crown since 2005.
Regardless of the semi-final outcome, Croatian football has yet another reason to be proud, as one Croatian will be in the Champions League final on June 1st at Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid – Dejan Lovren or Ivan Rakitić.
After an injury, Lovren should finally be ready for the match tonight, but whether he will play in Liverpool’s starting lineup is questionable. Rakitić, one the other hand, is one of Barcelona’s biggest hopes.
Barcelona already claimed the La Liga title on Saturday and can focus all of their attention to the Champions League, while Liverpool continues to run an exhausting battle on the two fronts, the Premier League and the Champions League. Two rounds before the end of the championship, Manchester City is one point ahead of Liverpool. The ‘Reds’, however, are hoping to clinch the Premier League title; one they have been waiting for since 1990.
“The fact that we are in the semifinal of the Champions League, and just before winning the Championship, makes us happy and hungry for new victories. You can always play better and get to these games in a better way, but we will play with a real desire to go to the final,” Rakitić said.
“I believe we have learned something from the previous seasons and we will now try to end this season perfectly,” he added.
“The most important thing now is to prepare well and play our game as usual. Our idea is not to score a single goal, but we cannot think of the return game now. We have to go for the victory but play calm. Liverpool can be dangerous, so we will have to be 100% concentrated,” Rakitić said.
And what will it be like playing against Lovren?
“I have great respect for him. All teams that are led by coach Jurgen Klopp have always been arranged well and he has drawn the best out of the players. I hope we stop them as soon as possible and then impose our own rhythm of the game. I also hope to score as soon as possible. The defense, however, is strong and they do not make it easy to score goals,” concluded Rakitić.
Barcelona and Liverpool will meet at 21:00 tonight.
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