Messi delivered magic for Barcelona but Liverpool had no plan for Alba; Ajax present beats...

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Michael Cox

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Barcelona take a commanding 3-0 lead into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Liverpool after a dominant performance at home. Donny van der Beek scored the lone goal as Ajax topped Spurs 1-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. The ESPN FC panel don't have a bad word to say about Liverpool's performance but are in awe of the way Lionel Messi almost single-handedly beat them back. Steve Nicol, Craig Burley and Alejandro Moreno talk Coutinho's struggles at Barcelona as the former Liverpool man was subjected to jeers by his own fans on Wednesday. Gab Marcotti was more impressed with Ajax's maturity and ability to manage a 1-0 result away from home than with their attacking prowess. The FC's crew agree that an off-the-pace midfield was a bigger worry for Tottenham than missing key players in their loss to Ajax. The Exploding Heads introduce UEFA's newest product, Vlarsses, clear and obvious greatness at the low cost of your enjoyment. The week's two Champions League semifinal first legs were very different matches, but both offered plenty of tactical intrigue. Here's a key tactical talking point from each. Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool: Left-backs make inroads On one hand, this home win was all about Lionel Messi. But in a tactical sense, Liverpool managed to deny him space effectively: He found himself in the right position for a fortunate rebound in front of an open goal, and then curled in yet another majestic free kick. On...

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