Porto coach Sergio Conceicao congratulated compatriot Carlos Carvalhal on masterminding Swansea’s recent victory over Liverpool but admits facing the Reds in the Champions League is a different prospect.
Carvalhal’s analogy was that he slowed down Liverpool’s Formula One car in traffic in their 1-0 win at the Liberty Stadium last month.
However, while Conceicao appreciated his fellow Portuguese’s efforts, he is not sure the same tactic can be applied to Europe’s top club competition.
“I take this opportunity to congratulate Carlos Carvalhal for what he is doing in the Premier League, and also to [Wolves head coach] Nuno Espirito Santo for what he is doing in the second tier. They are prestige to Portuguese soccer,” Conceicao said.
“All the Portuguese coaches working in England are doing a great job but it’s a different context and game—this is the Champions League.”
Porto have not beaten Liverpool in four previous meetings although their overall home record against English clubs is won eight, drawn six and lost three with already-qualified Leicester defeated 5-0 in last season’s group stage.
However, their record against Premier League sides in two-legged ties is poor with just three wins in 10 encounters, losing the last four, and they have not beaten English opposition in the knockout stage since Jose Mourinho’s team eliminated Manchester United en route to winning the competition in 2003/04.
They have prolific forwards in Vincent Aboubakar and Moussa Marega, who have 43 goals between them this season.
That, combined with an impressive home record which has seen them not lose in normal time for 30 domestic matches and just once in 19 at the Estadio de Dragao in all competitions, could present a problem for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Porto also have a mean defence with just one goal conceded in the last six games in league and cup.
“As I said, often the key is the defensive consistency of the team. Not conceding goals, we are always closer to winning the game, no doubt,” Conceicao added.
“We will face a very strong team, with a budget of over €200 million, but two historical clubs face each other and the players give me the confidence to think that we can pass this tie.”
Porto had a doubt over key defender Ivan Marcano, who has not featured since January 26, but he undertook light training this week and declared himself fit to play.
“We don’t pay attention to statistics from previous games, our motivation is to progress in this competition,” he said.
“We want to go as far as we can go in this competition.”