Liverpool head to Porto in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday night, with a first-leg victory of paramount importance on the road.
Porto vs. Liverpool
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 — 7.45pm (GMT)
Estadio do Dragao
Champions League Last 16, First Leg
Referee: Daniele Orsato (Italy)
Since then, they have had to put up with two group-stage exits, as well as failing to qualify for the competition in six of the last eight seasons.
There is a feeling that the good times are returning under Jurgen Klopp, however, and they have a good chance of reaching the last eight.
Getting that all-important away goal is so crucial on Wednesday, and while victory would clearly be outstanding, a score draw to take back to Anfield would be more than adequate.
Defensive resilience will be required against a talented Porto outfit—the Estadio do Dragao is a tough place to visit—but the Reds’ attacking brilliance can really hurt their opponents.
There is something special about Liverpool in the European Cup—the hope is that this is still just the beginning of a remarkable adventure in it this season.
The likes of James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will all be vying for starts, and Klopp is likely to stick with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in attack.
Porto are boosted by the return of both Ivan Marcano and Andre Andre, but top goalscorer Vincent Aboubakar is a doubt.
Every Past Meeting with Porto (All Competitions)
Liverpool 4-1 Porto – November 28, 2007 (Torres x2, Gerrard pen, Crouch; Lopez)
Porto 1-1 Liverpool – September 18, 2007 (Lopez pen; Kuyt)
Liverpool 2-0 Porto – March 15, 2001 (Murphy, Owen)
Porto 0-0 Liverpool – March 8, 2001
Porto are definitely not a team to be taken lightly, and their form this season shows exactly why that is the case.
Managed by former Portugal winger Sergio Conceicao, they top the Primeira Liga by two points with a game in hand, with a 28th league title on the cards.
They have conceded just 10 goals in the league all season, and there is undeniable quality lurking throughout their squad.
Portuguese football expert Jan Hagen told This is Anfield how he expects Porto to line up, singling out certain individuals for special praise.
“My expected Porto lineup against Liverpool would be: Sa; Pereira, Marcano, Reyes, Telles; Corona, Oliveira, Herrera, Brahimi; Aboubakar, Marega,” he said.
“Coneicao has often opted for a 4-3-3 against better opposition this season, but with main man Danilo Pereira out injured there’s great uncertainty related to how Porto will line up against Liverpool.
“He might stick to the 4-3-3 and go for Andre in midfield instead of Jesus Corona, pushing Moussa Marega out wide, but the Porto manager chose a 4-4-2 in a 1-0 win against great rivals Sporting CP last Wednesday.
“Marega and Vincent Aboubakar, both loaned out last season, have given Porto another attacking dimension this season with their pace and power, though.
“Alongside their Algerian team-mate Yacine Brahimi the trio have been outstanding this campaign, posing most of Porto’s attacking threat, often on counter-attacks.
“Also their full-back duo, Alex Telles and Ricardo Pereira, deserve a mention for the season they are having.
“Both are a big part of their attacking game, especially Telles—nine assists in 20 Liga games this season—and his marvellous left foot.”
Liverpool should underestimate them at their peril.
Porto – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 4-0 vs. Chaves
Won 1-0 vs. Sporting Lisbon
Won 3-1 vs. Braga
Drew 0-0 vs. Moreirense
Drew 0-0 vs. Sporting Lisbon
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking at the Estadio do Dragao on Tuesday night, Klopp acknowledged the need for an “outstandingly strong” performance in a dream tie:
“On a good day we are really strong, but we need to be outstandingly strong to get a result tomorrow at Porto,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s quite a job to do, that’s all we are focused on—in a very positive way.
“Last summer we dreamt of this, and now we are here.”
TV & Live Blog Info
The match is part of BT Sport’s Champions League coverage, with BT Sport 2 showing the game from 7pm (GMT). Kickoff is at 7.45pm.
Chris Williams is the man to talk you through the action in Portugal—he will be running our matchday live blog from 7pm.