Our event of the day is the first leg of the Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Liverpool at the Nou Camp. Barcelona have the luxury of focusing exclusively on the Champions League, having secured the La Liga title on Sunday, as they hunt for their sixth title in the tournament. Meanwhile, Liverpool will be eager to secure a sixth European Cup trophy too as they continue to fight with Manchester City for the Premier League title. This clash between European giants is one you will not want to miss. Barcelona, widely considered the best team in Europe, secured their 26th La Liga title on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Levante. They are on a twenty-two game unbeaten streak and have won thirteen of their last fifteen matches. They breezed through the quarter-finals against an ailing Manchester United in the hopes of winning their sixth Champions League title, and their first since the 2014-15 edition of the competition.
Meanwhile, Liverpool, who are unbeaten in nineteen and on a ten-game winning streak, are in a desperate fight for the Premier League. With two games left in the season, Liverpool find themselves one point behind Manchester City, making the league title probably City’s to lose. This potentially leaves the Champions League as Liverpool’s best chance at a trophy this season. In their quarter-final, the Reds out-played an over-matched Porto side, defeating them 6-1 on aggregate. Liverpool’s strength lies in their eager embrace of the modern footballing philosophy - fast-paced offense that presses the defence from the first whistle. The model of football that successful teams like Liverpool follow involves forcing teams into making bad choices by removing the alternatives through precise positioning and strategic player matchups. Barcelona play a similar model of football but the defining factor in tonight’s match will be in the back four. Barcelona’s defence relies on their offense. They specialize in the counter press and holding the opponents in their own half. Liverpool’s defensive style is much more traditional and if they can withstand the brunt of the Barcelona offense, Liverpool can perhaps gain the upper hand. Barcelona have few true defensive players and if Liverpool’s own fast-paced stars such as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané can catch them on the break, this could be Liverpool’s match. However, Barcelona still have a roster worth hundreds of millions of euros, including a rested and hungry Lionel Messi. The two teams have a wealth of history in the competition and to date, Barcelona have never beaten Liverpool at the Nou Camp and will be eager to break that trend and gain the advantage in this semi-final fixture. This is one match you will not want to miss.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the NHL, where the Dallas Stars host the St. Louis Blues at the American Airlines Center for game four of their second-round playoff series. The Stars find themselves down 2-1 after losing games one and three. The last time that Dallas was in the playoffs, they lost in the second round to the Blues. That is not something they will be eager to repeat. Meanwhile, the Blues look to move past the Stars and reach their first conference semifinals in three seasons. Be sure you don’t miss the continuation of this exciting playoff series. Elsewhere, in the NBA, the Denver Nuggets host the Portland Trail Blazers at the Pepsi Center for game two of their second round playoff series. The Nuggets won game one and will look to extend their series lead to two. With two of the dark horses in the playoffs going head to head, this is sure to be a memorable match. On the Ladies European Tour, the Dubai Moonlight Classic begins on the Faldo Course at the Emirates Golf Club. On the WTA Tour, the Prague Open continues at the TK Sparta Praha. The World Snooker Championship continues at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Barcelona; Liverpool
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