Liverpool will be aiming to drive home their first leg advantage and qualify for the UEFA Champions League semi-final, when they take on Porto this week.
Liverpool will embark on a trip to Portugal this week, as they gear up to face off against FC Porto in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final at Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday night.
Coming into the game on the back of a 2-0 advantage from the first leg at Anfield, courtesy of goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino, Jurgen Klopp’s men are the overwhelming favourites to make it through to the final four of the competition.
Liverpool’s credentials have been further enhanced, after they beat Chelsea 2-0 in the Premier League this past weekend, which catapulted them back to the top of the table. The Reds haven’t lost a single game since an FA Cup defeat to Wolves back in January and will be in a confident mood heading into Wednesday’s encounter.
However, facing Porto at home can be a difficult proposition for any side and they are not likely to go down without a fight. The Portuguese heavyweights had their fair share of chances in the first leg last week, highlighting that they can cause plenty of problems to Liverpool.
Post the defeat to Liverpool, Porto produced a solid reaction as they beat Portimonense 3-0 in the Portuguese Primeira Liga this past weekend. Having been profligate in front of goal at Anfield, manager Sergio Conceicao will be hoping that his team show their clinical nature at home and pull off a sensational comeback.
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Forward Vincent Aboubakar is set to miss out for the hosts on Wednesday night. Jesus Manuel Corona came off with an ankle injury against Portimonense and is a doubt for the game against Liverpool. No other injury or suspension concerns for Conceicao to deal with.
Porto should once again set out in a 4-4-2 formation against the Reds, with the legendary Iker Casillas starting in goal. Eder Militao, who will be joining Real Madrid in the summer, will line up on the right-side of the defence, with Alex Telles on the opposite side. At the heart of the Porto backline will be Pepe and Felipe.
Hector Herrera, who scored in the win against Portimonense at the weekend, will line up along with Danilo Pereira in the centre of the park for the home team. The duo are likely to sit deep and shield the defence from Liverpool’s midfield runners and break up play effectively.
Yacine Brahimi, who scored at the weekend, should start again on the left-side of the midfield, while the right flank is likely to be taken up by Otavio. They will be the key source of creativity for Porto in the final third and will be given the freedom to drift in or change positions as and when needed.
Moussa Marega, who was quite wasteful at Anfield in the reverse fixture, will need to step up on Wednesday night. He will be paired up with Tiquinho Soares in Porto’s attack.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Casillas; Militao, Pepe, Felipe, Telles; Otavio, Pereira, Herrera, Brahimi; Marega, Soares
Dejan Lovren will not travel with the rest of the squad due to an illness, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also not available as he continues his recovery. Adam Lallana is back from a muscular problem, while captain Jordan Henderson has shaken off a knock he picked up against Chelsea and will be available for the game.
✈️➡️Estadio do Dragao
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 16, 2019
Alisson Becker is the undisputed choice between the sticks for the Reds, but there are likely to be a couple of changes in defence from the first leg. Andrew Robertson, who was suspended for the reverse fixture, will take up his usual position on the left-side of the backline, with Trent Alexander-Arnold as the right-back.
Joel Matip should start at the heart of the defence, in place of Lovren, who featured in the first leg at Anfield, while Joe Gomez will also be an option. Virgil van Dijk is an ever-present for Liverpool and that is not going to change on Wednesday.
Fabinho has grown into an indispensable figure for Klopp and Liverpool and should hold on to his place at the base of the midfield. Henderson’s ankle issue against Chelsea might prompt Klopp to give his captain a breather and hand Gini Wijnaldum a start, while the third spot in the middle should once again be taken up by Naby Keita.
No changes are expected in attack, where the terrific trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane should all feature from the get go for Liverpool.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
- Porto have lost the first leg of a Champions League/European Cup knockout tie by 2+ goals on six previous occasions, and on all six of those occasions they have been eliminated from the competition.
- Liverpool have never lost a European match against FC Porto in seven previous encounters (W4 D3 L0), keeping three successive clean sheets against them.
- Porto suffered their heaviest ever home defeat in European competition against Liverpool in last season’s Champions League, with the Reds winning 5-0 in a last 16 tie.
- Since the start of last season, Liverpool have won three of their four away Champions League knockout games, only losing to Roma in last season’s semi-final (4-2).
- Liverpool have progressed from all nine of their previous two-legged European ties under manager Jurgen Klopp (four in the 2015-16 Europa League, one 2017-18 Champions League play-off and four Champions League knockout stage ties since the start of last season).
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Time and again this season, the Senegalese superstar has shown how important he is for this Liverpool side. Mane, so far this season, has netted 21 times from 42 matches across all competitions, while setting up 4 more. The 27-year-old was on target in Liverpool’s massive win over Chelsea at the weekend as well.
Mane has fond memories from his last visit to Estadio do Dragao, as the Senegal international plundered three goals in Liverpool’s thumping 5-0 win over Porto in their Champions League Round of 16 first leg contest in the last season. He will once again be integral to the Reds’ success on Wednesday night.
Porto 1-2 Liverpool
Porto enter the game knowing that they have a huge mountain to climb, as they will first need to erase the two-goal deficit from the first leg, while also making sure that their opponents don’t go on to score. Liverpool, on the other hand, will be aware that an away goal will put them in a much stronger position to make it through to the next round.
Sergio Conceicao’s side can draw confidence from the fact that they are the only team remaining in this season’s Champions League to have won all of their home matches so far. Moreover, they have managed to keep five clean sheets in their last seven matches at home in all competitions, although they did concede against quality opposition like Benfica and AS Roma.
Liverpool may have won just once on the road in Europe this season, but are on a 16-game unbeaten run across all competitions (W11 D5) that has gone on for three months and have won all of their last seven matches. Porto will put up a strong fight, but it will be hard for them to stop Jurgen Klopp’s side on Wednesday. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the Premier League leaders.