Liverpool welcome Porto to Anfield for their Champions League quarter-final first-leg clash on Tuesday, on another massive European night for the Reds.
Liverpool vs. Porto
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 – 8pm (BST)
Champions League Quarter-Final, First Leg
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)
Accept one thing: Liverpool will be doing nothing to aid the heart rates of supporters in the coming weeks.
Jurgen Klopp‘s men endured yet another nerve-shredding evening on Friday, with the 3-1 win at Southampton one of their most important results of the campaign.
To recover from a goal down and pick up such a significant win is testament to the team spirit created by Klopp—something unrivalled at Anfield since the 1980s.
The Premier League title race makes way for Champions League quarter-final commitments on Tuesday, as Liverpool look to go one better than last season.
Porto will prove a tough challenge, however, as proved by their victory over last season’s semi-finalists Roma in the last round.
Revenge will be on their minds, too, after the Portuguese heavyweights’ exit at the hands of Liverpool a year ago, and even a slight dip in intensity could prove fatal.
Taking a lead back to Portugal is imperative, ahead of what is likely to be a far more taxing leg compared to the 5-0 triumph in February 2018.
Liverpool will be flying after the win over Southampton, so expect a home win.
Klopp has no major injury concerns after the Saints game, but Andy Robertson is suspended after picking up a yellow card away to Bayern Munich.
Adam Lallana is still likely to be out with a muscle issue.
Rotation may be on the manager’s mind ahead of Sunday’s crucial visit of Chelsea, but a strong side will unquestionably be fielded.
Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk are expected to start, but what will Klopp do at left-back?
James Milner is the favourite to be given the nod in Robertson’s absence, showcasing his versatility, with Alberto Moreno another option.
The midfield selections are set to be very interesting after the Southampton match, after many supporters’ first-choice trio of Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keita all struggled.
Jordan Henderson transformed the game in the second half, along with Milner, and the captain is highly likely to come in, potentially in a more advanced role.
Wijnaldum has looked extremely leggy of late and needs a night off, meaning Fabinho and Keita could retain their places, especially with Milner at left-back.
Porto are without striker Vincent Aboubakar, who is out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury, but key man Alex Telles should be fit after recovering from a hip problem suffered bizarrely while scoring a penalty.
Portuguese veteran Pepe is suspended, as is midfielder Hector Herrera, which acts as a boost to Liverpool.
History of the Fixture
This will be the seventh meeting between Liverpool and Porto, with the two sides not facing each other competitively until the turn of the century.
The first clash came back in the memorable 2000/01 season, which saw the Reds clinch an unprecedented cup treble.
Gerard Houllier’s men overcame Porto in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, winning 2-0 at Anfield after a goalless first leg, thanks to goals from Danny Murphy and Michael Owen.
They met again in the Champions League group stage in 2007/08, drawing 1-1 in Portugal before Liverpool won 4-1 on their way to the knockout stages.
It was Fernando Torres who was the hero in the latter, finding the net twice prior to Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch putting the icing on the cake.
Then came the last-16 clash last season, when Klopp’s men romped to a Sadio Mane-inspired 5-0 victory away and drew 0-0 in something of a dead rubber in the return fixture.
Did You Know?
On three of the last four occasions that Liverpool have reached the Champions League quarter-finals they have progressed to the semis, outlining their pedigree in the knockout rounds.
They defeated PSV Eindhoven back in 2006/07, before eventually losing to AC Milan in the final in Athens, and knocked out Arsenal in the last eight the following year.
It was Chelsea who ended the Reds’ European dream that season, prevailing in the semis after extra-time.
Last season saw Liverpool pick up a famous win over Man City, going through 5-1 on aggregate, only to come up short against Real Madrid in the final.
The only time they have failed to progress from a quarter-final during this period was against Chelsea in 2008/09, when the Blues went through 7-5 on aggregate, following an unforgettable 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 3-1 vs. Southampton
Won 2-1 vs. Tottenham
Won 2-1 vs. Fulham
Won 3-1 vs. Bayern Munich
Won 4-2 vs. Burnley
Porto – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 2-0 vs. Boavista
Drew 1-1 vs. Braga
Won 3-2 vs. Braga
Won 3-0 vs. Maritimo
Won 2-1 vs. Feirense
Speaking to the press on Monday, Klopp admitted he was wary of a backlash from Porto, following last season’s humiliation:
“100 percent I can understand that.
“How I said before, last year when we won 5-0 there I thought ‘OK, we should not come here for a while’, and [the] next year we’re back again.
“We were very clinical that night. Porto were very good in the opening [minutes], caused us a lot of problems, but then we started scoring.
“At home, Porto 2-0 down, maybe they felt the pressure. But they’re more experienced now, changed everything.
“The advantage for us tomorrow night is we play at home, the advantage for Porto is they can use the game last year as motivation.”
TV & Live Blog Info
Liverpool vs. Porto is live on BT Sport from 7.15pm (BST), with kickoff at 8pm.
Ben Twelves is the man to talk you through the action on our matchday live blog, as the Reds look to put themselves in pole position ahead of the trip to Portugal.
He will be live from 7.15pm.