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This week in Europe

A look into this week’s Champions League and Europa League fixtures.

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Barcelona vs Liverpool

Liverpool and Barcelona was meant to be a clash of titans. It was meant to be a tightly contested tie that would be decided by the thinnest of margins. Now, the tie is essentially over before the opening whistle of match number two. A 3-0 deficit against a Barcelona team that has Lionel Messi, the greatest player to have ever played the game, would be nearly impossible to overcome even with a full-strength and world-class squad. Now, Liverpool will attempt the comeback shorthanded. Liverpool will be without its best player, Mohamed Salah (Concussion) and also without its other star forward Roberto Firmino (Muscle Injury). The already unlikely task has officially become the impossible. It is unfortunate for the casual observer as this was supposed to be a fantastic tie. But hey, Messi did warn us, he said this while addressing the Blaugrana faithful at the beginning of this season: “Although last year was very good for us, and we won La Liga and the Copa del Rey, we still have some unfinished business in the Champions League...”

Newcastle United v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Concussed, Salah leaves the field on a stretcher, ruling him out of the second-leg against Barcelona.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal vs Valencia

Arsenal find themselves in a precarious situation going into the second leg of their tie against Valencia. Their poor Premier League form continued at the weekend with a draw against Brighton. The draw all but ended any hope that Arsenal had of finishing in the top four. Therefore, winning the Europa League would seemingly be the only way for Arsenal to reach Champions League football.

Going into the second leg, they find themselves in a position to, at least, advance to the final. Having won 3-1 at home in the opening fixture of the tie, Arsenal were able to battle back from an early 1-0 deficit and scored three unanswered goals. Valencia on the other hand have all the work to do. The Spanish side were unable to impose their style of hard pressing to counter attacking football on the Gunners. I wholeheartedly expect Valencia to be ultra-aggressive in the second leg especially when considering Arsenal’s terrible away form. If they are able to get on the front foot early and really bring the action they could easily find themselves back in the tie early on in the match.

I expect an exciting match but ultimately, I expect Arsenal to get the first goal which would essentially end the tie.

Chelsea vs Frankfurt

Everything is going right for Chelsea at the moment. Over the weekend, Chelsea were able to secure a place in the top four. This means that all of their focus and attention can now be solely placed on winning the Europa League. In my opinion, considering the new circumstances, I believe that Chelsea are the club best positioned to lift the Europa League trophy.

More specifically, heading into the second leg of this tie they are in a fantastic position. Away from home they were able to get the almighty away goal in a 1-1 draw. Frankfurt will have to produce another magical performance in order to complete this comeback. Unfortunately for the Bundesliga side, they have run into a Chelsea side that simply looks to be peaking.

Chelsea FC v Watford FC - Premier League
Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images