Fit-again Gomez keeping cool over challenge of silencing Lionel Messi

Date published: Thursday 18th April 2019 3:54

Joe Gomez will turn thoughts to keeping Lionel Messi quiet in the build-up to their Champions League semi-final with Barcelona – and not a second before.

Liverpool’s comprehensive win against Porto in Portugal marked the much-welcome return to action of Gomez.

The 21-year-old England international made his first senior appearance since December following a leg fracture when he came on as a second-half substitute.

Liverpool next face a mouthwatering battle against Barca in the semi-finals, with manager Jurgen Klopp already insisting the return to Anfield for Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho will be “anything but welcome”.

Our latest Red Letter blog is already getting giddy at the prospect of Liverpool being just seven games from their greatest season of a generation – but one man who presents a huge hurdle is Messi, a man who this season has maintained his incredible high standards.

Gomez, however, will – if selected – take the challenge of facing Messi in his stride as he said: “We haven’t really thought about it (the Barcelona tie) until now.

“It’ll be a difficult game. They’re one of the best in the world, clearly, and they’ve probably got the best player in the world and many others around him.

“So it’s going to be a difficult game, but that’s what the Champions League is about.

“You don’t get this far to have easy games and we know you have to earn your place in the next round.”

 

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Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Virgil Van Dijk were on target as Liverpool, beaten finalists last season, eased into the final four again.

Klopp’s side have now won eight straight games in their pursuit of a Champions League and Premier League double.

“We had to be prepared for them to come out strong and it was difficult in the first 30 minutes,” Gomez said.

“But we managed to get a goal and then the boys saw it out and it was a good result in the end.

“In our eyes it was 0-0 and we couldn’t come into the game thinking ‘Let’s just see it out and try and not let them score and see it out as a 0-0’.

“We knew we had to treat this as a separate game and play as we do.”

Liverpool will travel to Barcelona for the first leg of the semi-final on May 1, with the return at Anfield six days later.

 

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