Barcelona, Clubs, Liverpool, Luis Suárez, Story, UEFA Champions League


Sid Lowe joins ESPN FC to discuss Lionel Messi’s performance against Liverpool and explains why it stood out from his other outstanding games for Barcelona.
Barcelona take a commanding 3-0 lead into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool after a dominant performance at home.

LIVERPOOL, England — Luis Suarez said he is expecting a warm welcome at Anfield on Tuesday, and has pledged not celebrate at his former home ground in the same way he did after opening the scoring in Barcelona’s 3-0 win against Liverpool at Camp Nou last week.

Suarez, 32, drew criticism from Liverpool supporters for the way he reacted to opening the scoring at Camp Nou. The Uruguayan had spent three-and-a-half years at the Premier League club before moving to Barca in 2014, scoring 82 goals in 133 appearances.

Barca go into this week’s Champions League semifinal second leg meeting between the two teams in a commanding position thanks to their first-leg win. A goal from Suarez, who hasn’t scored on the road in Europe since 2015, a run spanning 17 games, would leave Liverpool needing to score five to reach the final.

However, he says even if he scores the goal which books Barca a spot in the final in Madrid in June, he will not celebrate out of respect for Liverpool.

“People in football know the importance of scoring a goal in the semifinal of the Champions League,” he said in defence of his Camp Nou celebration. “I have a lot of respect for Liverpool and I apologised [to the Liverpool fans after the celebration].

“I’m grateful to Liverpool and obviously if I score tomorrow I won’t celebrate like I did at Camp Nou, just as I didn’t when I returned to other teams I have played for in my career.”

Suarez believes he will be well-received by the Anfield faithful on Tuesday after helping Liverpool return to the Champions League in 2014 and taking them to the brink of the Premier League title.

“I think because of all the hard work I did here, there will be more applause than whistles,” he added. “The supporters know what I did here. Maybe there will be some people unhappy [with me] but I am grateful to the club.

“It’s really special to be back. Liverpool gave me a lot. They helped me to improve, to become more professional and more mature in many aspects. I improved at Ajax, but more here playing with players with a lot of experience. Captaining Liverpool was a unique moment in my career, I was very proud. If I am playing for Barcelona, with football’s elite, it’s thanks to how Liverpool made me as a player.”

Suarez’s opener at Camp Nou was followed by two Lionel Messi goals to leave Barca on the verge of a first European final in four years. But, even though Liverpool are without the injured Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Suarez is not taking anything for granted.

“We’re aware of the threat Liverpool pose,” he said. “We have to be careful of that. We played one of our best games of the season last week, even though they had some opportunities. Now we have to play better as we will face a really difficult atmosphere in which to play in.

“I was never not up for games here. The fans push you on. You’d play at Anfield against a team in the fifth division, and the atmosphere would motivate you. It would still be full and that would motivate you.”

Barca also have the unwanted precedent of last season. They beat Roma 4-1 in their quarterfinal first leg last season only to lose 3-0 in Italy to make a surprise exit from the competition.

“It hurt a lot,” Suarez admitted. “We don’t want that feeling again. You learn a lot from errors. Last year we were a little bit too relaxed. If you switch off for one minute, or even 30 seconds, they can score a goal and that warms up the fans. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde said his side still has their work ahead of them at Anfield on Tuesday, and must avoid complacency against the Premier League challengers.

“Everything is still to be played for. We know there will be a great atmosphere here. There also was at Old Trafford, at the San Siro,” he said. “But the team has always stepped up in those environments. We will have to be at our best for this game.”

He added: “Obviously every team has their own style and what you want is for the game to be played on your terms. There are times when the opposition attack and press you back. In those situations it can seem like the ball never stops moving.

“But we’re not interested in having the sensation that we’re in control. We have to attack. If we think about having control, it would be a mistake. We have to attack. We have to go out to attack.”

The Blaugrana will be without winger Ousmane Dembele for the match, and Valverde hinted he could be sidelined at least until the Copa del Rey final on May 25.

“We have not spoken about it but I think it will be tough for him to be back in time for the Copa del Rey final,” he said.



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