News Live Scores
Barcelona v Liverpool

'Liverpool tougher Messi test than Man Utd' - Klopp better equipped for Barcelona talisman, says Murphy

17:00 GMT+3 28/04/2019
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2018-19
The former Reds midfielder believes the likes of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson will face better against the Argentine than Premier League rivals did

Liverpool are “better equipped to deal with Lionel Messi than Manchester United were”, says Danny Murphy, with the Reds tipped to succeed where arch-rivals failed against Barcelona.

The newly crowned La Liga champions have already disposed of one Premier League opponent in European competition this season.

United were swept aside with the minimum of fuss at the quarter-final stage, with Messi inspiring a 4-0 aggregate success for the Blaugrana.

Jurgen Klopp is now having to piece together a plan for facing the mercurial Argentine, with the first leg of a heavyweight semi-final showdown set to be taken in at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Former Reds midfielder Murphy believes Liverpool boast the players to contain a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, telling the Daily Mail: “I don't want to tempt fate but I think Liverpool are better equipped to deal with Lionel Messi than Manchester United were at the Nou Camp.

“They have to be concerned about Barcelona's wizard, of course, but not obsessively so. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Jurgen Klopp spends as much time working out how to deal with the runs from Jordi Alba at left-back.

“If Alba and Philippe Coutinho are allowed to go two-against-one with Trent Alexander-Arnold isolated, that does spell danger for Liverpool.

“Stopping Messi isn't simple but if you're looking for a midfield three to do the job, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Gino Wijnaldum would be near the top of the list.

“All of them are what I'd call proper midfielders in that they have natural defensive instincts. They sniff out potential trouble ahead of time; which player needs marking, what space needs condensing.

“Paul Pogba has his qualities but I feel he's more reactive than proactive defensively. Messi scored twice when United were beaten 3-0 in Spain and though both of his goals could be put down to individual errors, Barcelona were given space to penetrate in the final third that Liverpool won't allow.

“Even if Klopp can't name his favoured three, he has other options in Naby Keita and James Milner, who have the athleticism and positional sense to deal with threats.

“Even with someone of Messi's genius, the biggest element for a midfield trying to protect their goal is the distances between you. Instead of concentrating on the ability of one opponent, ensure you aren't too spread out when Barcelona have the ball.

“That's why I believe Liverpool should play their normal game. They have an excellent defensive record for a reason and Virgil van Dijk will be constantly chatting to his team-mates, telling them if Messi is coming as a live threat.”

Liverpool head into a meeting with Barca having claimed 10 successive victories across all competitions, with Klopp’s side still in contention for a Premier League and Champions League double.