Reds ready for Barca test

Neither Trent Alexander-Arnold nor Andrew Robertson have Lionel Messi’s star power, but the buccaneering Liverpool defenders could play just as vital a role as the Barcelona captain in their mouthwatering Champions League football semi-final.

Virgil van Dijk has hogged the spotlight among Liverpool’s defenders with a superb campaign that earned the Dutch centre-back the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.

Ahead of tonight’s first leg against Messi’s Barca, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have emerged as essential contributors to Liverpool’s bid for Champions League glory. With 24 assists between them in all competitions, England right-back Alexander-Arnold and Scotland left-back Robertson are pivotal figures in Jurgen Klopp’s game-plan.

Robertson’s 11 assists have equalled the English Premier League record for a defender and Alexander-Arnold is not far behind, with nine, making Liverpool’s full-backs are as much wingers as defenders.

It has become the most demanding, tactically significant position in the Liverpool team.

Without Robertson (25) doing the job of two players with his lung-bursting runs up and down the flanks, Senegal winger Sadio Mane would not have the freedom to move infield, from where he has scored 24 goals this term.

Mohamed Salah’s licence to roam from the wing is only possible because there is less need to track back defensively while Alexander-Arnold (20) tirelessly covers every blade of grass on the right.

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