By: Lawal Jamiu Olakunle
Momentum heating up, pressure being pilled as teams now battle head to head for the final two spots in a decisive fixtures. So who survives the battlefield?
LIVERPOOL VS BARCELONA
Klopp’s side looked the better team for long periods of the game at Camp Nou, but ultimately had to bow down to the magic of Lionel Messi.
Liverpool outperformed Barca in terms of possession, corners earned and attempts on goal but were left to rue not grabbing the lifeline of an away strike.
Liverpool will clutch at the straws of a 13-match unbeaten run in Champions League home games, but Barcelona know they can’t afford to concede four times if just netting once at Anfield.
Barcelona edged ahead on 26 minutes at Anfield when Luis Suarez raced onto Jordi Alba’s excellent pass and steered his shot home in clinical fashion.
The Catalan giants were then content to soak up plenty of pressure before Suarez hit the bar on the break and the rebound fell kindly for Messi to walk the ball into the back of the net.
While the Argentine adding his second by beating Alisson all ends up with a stunning free-kick from fully 30 yards out – his 600th goal for the club.
VERDICT: Nothing is impossible in football they say; but with Messi, some impossibilities remains impossible. See Barcelona in Final.
AJAX VS TOTTENHAM
Having already knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus, Ajax’s bold, young team started out in a fearless manner when facing Spurs away.
Barcelona-bound midfielder Frenkie De Jong and inspirational skipper Matthijs De Ligt justified their lofty reputations with polished performances.
Fleet-footed Morocco star Hakim Ziyech also shone and Van De Beek continued to sparkle as he complemented a composed 15th-minute strike with
David Neres could have all-but put the tie to bed when he hit the post late on, but it is still tough to see a way back for Spurs.
Spurs did improve after Moussa Sissoko’s introduction for the injured Jan Vertonghen gave them more energy in the engine room.
Mauricio Pochettino is adamant this tie is far from over, stating: “I think it is still open…the second half gives us hope for the second leg in Amsterdam.
“Now it is about going there to win the game. We need one result – that is to win. We want to be in the final.”
However, injuries to Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela and Serge Aurier have robbed Tottenham of much-needed drive and that was apparent in London.
VERDICT: The tie is still wide open but with what Ajax has achieved so far, No one will doubt them being in the final.