Former Liverpool player warns reds players on messy Messi ahead of UEFA clash

The UEFA duel pitting Barcelona and EPL title contenders, Liverpool who sit on the top of the Premier League is seen by many as the final before the finals.

It brings together sides that have shared players, Coutinho and Suarez are former Liverpool with the former having left for Spain just last season though he is yet to impress.

Former Liverpool player and Klopp idol Luis Garcia fears Lionel Messi is set to unleash his genius and most-dreaded part of him on Liverpool.

Garcia, the Spanish forward who was a Champions League winner with the Reds 14 years ago, believes Barcelona ’s brilliant Argentine is on a one-man ­mission to be once again crowned the king of European football which spells bad news for ­Liverpool.

Garcia has pinpointed Messi as the man who can make a decisive ­difference when Liverpool meet Barca in their two-legged semi-final.

He reckons the 31-year-old has been inspired by arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo leading Real Madrid to three successive Champions League triumphs.

And, while the Catalan giants have cruised it in the Spanish league this ­season, it is European glory that is ­driving Messi on.

Garcia said: “Messi said, at the start of the season, that his aim is to win the Champions League again. “And that message has been ­repeated by the other Barcelona players throughout the year.

“Barcelona have dominated La Liga for the last few years and have been so consistent, but Madrid have won the last three Champions Leagues and that will have hurt them.

“I think Liverpool have got the worst draw possible but so have ­Barcelona. “I would say Liverpool are better defensively than ­Barcelona and Barcelona have a better midfield than Liverpool.

“Up front, both clubs have some unbelievable players Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho on one side and Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane on the other.

“I think the difference between the two teams could be Messi. He is the one player who can do things that no other player in the whole world is capable of. If he isn’t scoring goals, then he is ­creating them. He just finds a way to win games like no other player.

“After Messi? I would say it is an even game and impossible to call – the flip of a coin.”

Garcia will be forever ­remembered at Anfield for the role he played in ­Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in 2005. His controversial goal to defeat Chelsea in the semi-final sent Rafa Benitez’s men through to face AC Milan.

The Miracle of Istanbul when the Reds hit back from a 3-0 half-time ­deficit to win on penalties and lift the European Cup for the fifth time secured him a permanent place in the club’s glorious history.

Now aged 40, Garcia is ­impressed by the way Klopp has built a team that is challenging for both ­Premier League and ­Champions League success.

The Spaniard knows from his own experience how ­Liverpool’s fans crave to see a 29-year wait for the title ended.

The Reds have had a record-breaking season, but still, need ­ Manchester City to slip up in one of their final three games to be crowned champions. Garcia said: “I understand the pressure. I felt it. We all felt it, the players and the fans.

“I would look across the dressing room at Steven Gerrard and Jamie ­Carragher and I could see they were suffering most because they were from Liverpool.

“The team I played in added to the history of the club. We won the ­Champions League in 2005 and we were back in the final two years later. “But we couldn’t find the ­consistency to win the title.

“We didn’t have a big squad, so we couldn’t rotate the team, and there was always a big gap to first place. When we won the Champions League, we weren’t the best team in Europe.

“In one-off games, we were able to raise our performances and we had a manager in Rafa who knew how to set the team up tactically.”

Garcia added: “What I like about ­Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool is that there is a great balance to the team.

“They are fantastic going forward, creating chances and scoring goals, and yet defensively they give away so little.

“Buying Virgil van Dijk and ­Alisson was so important. “But we have also seen the ­development of players like Andy ­Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.

“Fabinho has really settled in well over the last few months and, of course, having a forward line of Salah, Mane and Firmino can win any game.“I think Jurgen Klopp is doing a great job.

“Not just building the team, but also in the way he has managed the squad to put the team in with a chance of ­winning the Premier League and the Champions League.

“It is amazing that Liverpool have won so many points and could still lose the title to Manchester City.”

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