A few weeks ago, when Liverpool’s defence were accused of “wobbling”, the team conceded six goals in five matches. This patch came after a run of five clean sheets in a row in all competitions, which is perhaps what led to the mistaken belief that Jurgen Klopp’s side were beginning to suffer at the back.
Since beating Southampton 3-1 away from home on April 5th, however, they’ve only allowed one goal in five fixtures, a 69th-minute consolation for Porto’s Eder Militao in the Champions League quarter-final second-leg with the tie already put to bed. That goal was one of just two that Liverpool have conceded in the knockout phase so far. If they get on the scoresheet in Catalonia, there’s every chance they’ll have done it while preventing their opponents doing the same; if they don’t, there’s every chance they’ll force the same fate on Barcelona.
For Barcelona’s part, they’ve tended to keep things tight away from home in Europe after the group stages, drawing 0-0 with Lyon in France and settling for a single goal at Old Trafford in the previous round. They went on to dismantle both those sides in the Nou Camp, which you could take to indicate how they may play this on Wednesday.
However, perhaps the connection here is not the venue but rather the order in which the legs are played – Barcelona’s policy this midweek may be to keep things very tight and do the business on the road next time out. Moreover, given Liverpool were happy enough to keep Bayern goalless at Anfield back in February, there’s every chance they may try to shut up shop and keep this a low-scoring game if possible, with 0-0 or 1-0 seeming like likely results.
For that reason, we’re going to look at BTTS “No”, which is reasonably priced at 5/4, presumably as a result of traders and punters feeling Barca will look for goals at home. But we think things may go in a slightly different direction here. Still, thanks to the nature of the market, even if Lionel Messi and co do let rip, all this market needs to win is for them to keep Liverpool from getting on the scoresheet.
Pick: BTTS No – 5/4
If you’ve read our reasons above for picking the “BTTS No” market, you’ll probably get why we’re going with this one. We’re investing in this match being a low-scoring one, and this market allows for a lot of outcomes that tie in with “BTTS No”.
The results we’re looking for with our two picks so far in mind are 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 2-0, 0-2. Those don’t seem out of the question in any way.
Okay, we generally stay away from the bookings markets in our trebles and accas, but this is Sergio Busquets we’re talking about. Mr Professional Foul has so far racked up 10 yellows in La Liga this season, with a further two in the Champions League, two in the Copa del Rey and one in the Spanish Super Cup. That’s an impressive total of 16.
Many of those were cynical tugs or trips in situations where it looked as if the opponent may have been in a threatening position. Busquets can spot danger, and he has no qualms about fouling in order to snuff it out.
Given Liverpool’s propensity to hit teams hard and fast on the counter – and Busquets’ increasing sluggishness – you’d have to think it’s all set up for Sergio to go in the book for the 17th time in 2018-19.
Odds correct at time of posting.