Jose Mourinho believes that Liverpool are stronger than they were last season, telling RT that if Barcelona were without Lionel Messi, the Reds would be favourites.

Liverpool made it to the Champions League final last season and could make back to back appearances in UEFA’s showpiece if they overcome Barcelona during their two-legged semi-final tie.

Mourinho told RT: “Tell me a game where Salah, Firmino, Mane all three together they didn’t score. It’s very rare.

Sadio Mane.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

“The reality is that Liverpool last season, they played the final and this season they are in the semi-finals with in my opinion 50% chances of being in the final.

“I think so, they are better [than last season]. I would say Barca without Messi, Liverpool are favourites.”

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Messi is Barcelona’s obvious standout performer and would be a lot weaker without him but Ernesto Valverde still has Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho up front with Ousmane Dembele an option too.

Ernesto Valverde

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona might not be as strong as they were when Pep Guardiola was in charge but they are still a talented group of players that can hurt Liverpool if they aren’t careful.

Virgil van Dijk will look to prove his value tonight as he faces up against Suarez and Messi.

If the Dutchman comes through this evening’s semifinal with flying colours, it will go a long way to cementing his reputation as the best defender in the world.

Virgil van Dijk

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Of course, van Dijk will be less concerned about his own reputation and more focused on ensuring he and his teammates reach the final for the second season in a row.

As one of the best players in the world, the 27-year-old will want to win silverware and the Champions League is his most realistic chance of doing so.

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