Liverpool host FC Porto at Anfield as they look to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the second consecutive season.
The Portuguese side will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last season’s meeting in the Round of Sixteen when a 5 – 0 first leg drubbing rendered the second leg meaningless.
Porto’s run to the last eight included an undefeated group stage (W5, D1) which saw them win twice and draw at Schalke. Their total of 15 goals scored was third-highest in the tournament. A miserly defence saw them concede just five.
It took, however, extra time to see off Roma in the last sixteen when the Dragões only led for three minutes of the 210 minutes played. Alex Telles’ 117th-minute penalty saw Porto beat the Italians 4 – 3 on aggregate.
Liverpool, by contrast, stumbled through with three home wins in the group phase. Eight of their nine goals scored came at Anfield with only a James Milner penalty in Paris to show for their efforts.
A goalless draw at home to Bayern Munich saw them heading for the exit until an excellent away performance saw them win 3 – 1 in the Allianz Arena.
Domestically, there is little to choose between the pair. Liverpool sit top of the Premier League having played a game more than Manchester City. Undefeated in twelve (W8, D4), the Reds have yet to lose at Anfield this season (W14, D2) in the Premier League.
Porto suffered one defeat in 21 (W17, D3) and are level at the top of the Primeira Liga with arch-rivals Benfica. The Eagles lead by virtue of a +53-goal difference, 12 better than Porto. Two of Porto’s three defeats this season came at the hands of Benfica.
Both sides will draw encouragement from the other’s respective form. Porto have two clean sheets in their last 10 away games and none so far in the Champions League. Indeed, the Portuguese club conceded twice in their last two away matches.
They have, however, scored in nine of the last 10 with seven of those games seeing over 2.5 goals.
Liverpool managed just four clean sheets in the last 10 at Anfield (W8, D2), conceding three goals in the last two in total. Both Burnley and Southampton took the lead against Jurgen Klopp’s side while Tottenham drew level before Liverpool pulled clear to win the three matches. There is a vulnerability which Porto may exploit even with Vincent Aboubakar absent.
This season’s competition suggests Porto will do just that. Each of their last six games saw over 2.5 goals (W5, L1) with the Portuguese scoring two or more in five of them. Liverpool cannot afford to take them lightly.
Jurgen Klopp admitted in his press conference that he was enjoying this season’s run-in far more than last. He claimed the victory at Southampton which guaranteed Champions League football next season lifted the pressure was off his players.
The Kop would beg to differ; this is the biggest match of the Reds season – until the next one – with the defeat in Kyiv still running raw. The prospect of putting that wrong right is fuelling a strong desire to return to the pinnacle of European football.
Liverpool vs FC Porto Team News
Andrew Robertson is suspended with James Milner in line to cover for the Scot. Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both on the mend following long-term injuries. However, they are some way off a place in the starting line-up.
Not many, if any, changes are expected to the Reds line-up following their 3 – 1 win at Southampton last weekend.
Pepe and Héctor Herrera are both suspended for the visitors. Danilo, Otavio and Eder Militao one booking away from suspension.
Militao is expected to move to the centre of the visitors’ defence with Maxi Pereira or Corona coming in a full-back.
Alex Telles missed the weekend’s win over Boavista with a hip injury but is expected to return for this match.
Liverpool possible XI: Alisson; Milner, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Mane, Firmino, Salah
FC Porto possible XI: Casillas; Pereira, Militao, Torres, Corona; Otavio, Pereira, Torres, Corona; Marega, Soares
Liverpool vs FC Porto Recent Form
FC Porto: WDWWWW