Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have been ruled out of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final match against Barcelona later today after manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed that both prized forwards would not be on duty for the return leg.
Salah reportedly concussed during Saturday’s 2-3 Premier League win at Newcastle when colliding with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka at St James’ Park over the weekend while Roberto Firmino remained sidelined with a muscular injury.
Liverpool must overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit when they meet at Anfield in order to reach the Champions League final for the second successive season.
“Both of them are unavailable for tomorrow,” Klopp said at his pre-match news conference at Anfield on Monday.
“Two of the world’s best strikers are not available, and we have to score four goals to go through in 90 minutes.
A dejected Klopp said “It doesn’t make life easier, but as long as we have 11 players on the pitch, we will try. If we can do it, wonderful, and if not, fail in the most beautiful way.”
Salah is expected to feature against Wolverhampton Wanderers in Liverpool’s final Premier League game of the season on Sunday, but Klopp said the clash with Barcelona was too soon for the 26-year-old.
Brazil’s Philippe Coutinho, if he starts in the second leg, will be returning to Anfield where he had stared for five seasons until 2018 when he left the reds and will obviously be ready for a frosty welcome from the fans.
Same treatment awaits teammate Louis Suarez who will also be going back to Liverpool for the first time in a competitive game since he left the club in 2014.
Suarez celebrated his goal against Liverpool at the Camp Nou, although later apologised as he made his way back to the centre-circle.
Suarez and Coutinho were team-mates when Liverpool so nearly won the English Premier League (EPL) under Brendan Rodgers in the 2013/2014 season.
Now they stand on the brink of a potential treble in Spain.
It would be the second of Suarez’ career at FC Barcelona after he also managed it in his first season with the Catalans.
The Uruguayan and the Brazilian were close friends at Liverpool and still have former team-mates, such as Jordan Henderson, in the current Liverpool line-up.
There will be no love lost on Tuesday and that may also extend to the stands where Liverpool supporters might forget their fondness for two former sons, if only for 90 minutes.