Champions League: Marvellous Messi…

It’s the Champions League again tonight, with the first leg of the second semifinal between Barcelona and Liverpool at the Nou Camp Stadium.

The Spanish champions are favourites for the tie, boasting the best run at home in the tournament, being unbeaten for 31 games. They also have an impressive record against English sides, winning 27 games.

That said, Liverpool are the only English side to have won at the Nou Camp in European competition, and have done so twice. In fact Liverpool haven’t lost away at Barca on the four occasions they have played.

But facts and figures aside, the focus surrounding this game has been on Lionel Messi. The Argentinian great has made it his mission to win the competition this year, scoring 10 goals in seven games, and he dazzled against Manchester United in the last round.

We think he will be doing his utmost to stamp his authority upon this game, and take the enhanced 13/2 on offer with Paddy Power that he scores from outside the penalty area.

Still, Barcelona are unlikely to have the game go all their own way tonight. After all Liverpool did reach the final last year and won in Munich and Porto in their last two away games in the knockout phase.

The Reds have their own attacking weapons to take advantage of Barcelona’s potential weakness defensively. Liverpool’s fullbacks offer a real threat going forward with their crosses, with Sadio Mane being one the key players to benefit. He scored two headers against Huddersfield on Friday (and should have had a third) and we’ll take a punt he scores one tonight.

Recommendations:

Messi to score from outside the penalty area, 1 pt, at 13/2, Paddy Power

Mane to score a header, 1 pt, at 16/1, SkyBet

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