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Champions League preview: Barcelona v. Liverpool

Liverpool Press Conference

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 30: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool speaks during a Liverpool press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match against FC Barcelona. On April 30, 2019 in Barcelona. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

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It’s as simple as that, really. When it comes to Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, the Reds can deal with being behind but have little hope with a zero on the board in terms of away goals.

And we know they aren’t playing for 0-0.

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“We need to be completely free,” says Jurgen Klopp. “I know people say we’ve been better in the past couple of years and that Barcelona aren’t the same Barcelona any more but they are a brilliant team.”

It’s Klopp’s first time managing against the Blaugranas, and that presents the question of whether what he’ll bring to the match will be able to flummox Barca or whether the first time dealing with the Catalan club will leave Klopp without answers.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is prepared for a free-flowing Liverpool attack, saying the key to beating the Reds is dealing with their “15-minute” bursts of pressure and surviving the high press.

From Marca:

“They have a set game that feeds the three attackers; they push forward their defense and they want to steal the ball in your area to throw it fast to the forwards,” he noted. “You have to have an answer to their impetus and you have to know how to overcome the suffocating pressure they implement.”

Maybe the Reds can make Barca see ghosts.

Alisson Becker was the goalkeeper when Roma stunned Barca in last season’s quarterfinal.

Then again, he also allowed four goals at the Camp Nou. And Virgil van Dijk has been there before, and knows it can’t get much worse than the 6-1 loss he suffered with Celtic in 2013.

That’s a long time ago, and both Van Dijk and his supporting cast are far superior to that iteration of the Bhoys.

Klopp and the Reds have had a lot of success in tournament play, making a Europa League and Champions League Final in addition to this season’s semifinal (at a minimum) performance.

“You can’t aim to be legends of the future, you just have to do the work and if someone looks at you like that and thinks ‘legend’ then it happens and it’s all good,” he said.

Follow @NicholasMendola