Liverpool will travel to Portugal as they get set to lock horns with FC Porto in their second Group B encounter of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League.
The UEFA Champions League returns to action this midweek and trophy-hopefuls Liverpool will be in action on Tuesday night as they look to take a step closer towards qualification to the knockout stages when they take on FC Porto at Estadio do Dragao.
Liverpool have made a steady start to the new season and are currently topping the table in the Premier League despite dropping points in their latest game that ended in a 3-3 against Brentford. As for their Champions League journey, the Reds survived a scare from Serie A giants AC Milan in their first game to pick up a 3-2 win and are sitting on top of Group B. With a tough game against Atletico Madrid next, a win here will be crucial for Jurgen Klopp.
As for FC Porto, they started their Champions League campaign with a goalless draw against Atletico Madrid and are third in Group B, level on points with second-placed Los Rojiblancos who play AC Milan on Tuesday night at San Siro. Domestically, Sergio Conceicao’s men have been fine form, having not lost in any of their seven league games and head into the midweek clash on the back of a 2-1 victory over Gil Vicente.
Liverpool and Porto collided in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in the 2018/19 season, with the Reds prevailing on their way to lifting the trophy. Ahead of their latest meeting on Tuesday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
🗣 "We are facing an opponent who in certain phases of it's game is one of the best teams in the world."
Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao praises their Champions League opposition Liverpool pic.twitter.com/XzK8z4TPqC
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) September 27, 2021
The hosts will be without the services of defender Chancel Mbemba, who is suspended while veteran defender Pepe and Agustin Marchesin are injury doubts for the game. Sergio Conceicao will set his team up in a 4-4-2 formation with Diogo Costa lining up between the sticks in the potential absence of Marchesin.
Jesus Corona, who is attracting interest from top clubs across Europe, is set to feature at right-back again, where his defensive acumen will be put to a stern test against the threat of Sadio Mane. Wendell ought to start on the left where his hands will be full with Mohamed Salah. Ivan Marcano and Fabio Cardoso ought to pair up at the heart of the defence.
Former Liverpool man, Marko Grujic, who made a permanent switch to Porto in the summer, will be tasked with holding down the fort in the middle of the park, with support coming from Mateus Uribe. Nicolas Otavio and Luis Diaz, who is being linked with Barcelona, ought to take up the flanks and look to make the most of any spaces left behind by Liverpool’s attack-minded full-backs.
Mehdi Taremi and Toni Martinez will form the strike partnership and will look to make life difficult for the Liverpool defenders with their aggressive, physical approach.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Costa; Corona, Marcano, Cardoso, Wendell; Otavio, Grujic, Uribe, Diaz; Taremi, Martinez
Liverpool continue to be without the services of Thiago Alcantara and Harvey Elliott, but there was some boost on the eve of the game as Naby Keita returned to training. But Jurgen Klopp will have to make do without key man Trent Alexander-Arnold who has not travelled to Portugal due to a lack of fitness, although Neco Williams has returned to full fitness and will be an option at right-back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold hasn’t travelled with #LFC squad to Porto for Champions League game tomorrow night 🔴
— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) September 27, 2021
However, Klopp is likely to go in with seasoned campaigner James Milner in the lineup ahead of Williams and youngster Connor Bradley for the crucial clash against Porto. On the left side, there is simply no looking past Andrew Robertson while Virgil van Dijk is a certainty at the heart of the defence. Joel Matip, however, could make way for Joe Gomez as the Dutchman’s partner.
Fabinho is an ever-present figure in the middle of the park and that should not change on Liverpool’s trip to Portugal. His aggression and steel in midfield would be key for the Reds to assert control on the proceedings. He will be partnered by captain Jordan Henderson while Curtis Jones, who scored in the draw against Brentford, should occupy the third slot in the centre.
The revered attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane should start against Porto, with Diogo Jota and Divock Origi providing options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Milner, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane
- This will be the fifth time Liverpool have faced FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League since Jurgen Klopp became the club’s manager – they’ve won more games (3), scored more goals (11) and kept more clean sheets (3) against them than any other opponent in the competition under the German.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five away games in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (W4 D1), while they’ve kept a clean sheet in three of their four victories in this run. Their last away defeat in the group stage came back in September 2019, losing 0-2 at Napoli.
- FC Porto have faced Liverpool on eight previous occasions in European competition – six of which have been in the UEFA Champions League – while they are still looking for their first victory against the Reds (D3 L5).
- FC Porto have only scored one goal in their four UEFA Champions League games against Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool (D1 L3), despite attempting 45 shots across these meetings. Liverpool, meanwhile, have netted 11 times from 54 attempts against them in this period.
- Liverpool star Sadio Mane has been directly involved in five goals in four UEFA Champions League appearances against FC Porto, scoring four times and providing one assist.
Player to Watch
Rio Ferdinand on Mo Salah:
“Go and watch Salah and what he does. He dominates and destroys top level players on a regular basis. He makes the game look easy, he makes football look easy.” #awlive [youtube] pic.twitter.com/dwu0VdjHNo
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) September 27, 2021
The 29-year-old prolific Liverpool superstar continues to break record after record. This past weekend, with his strike against Brentford, Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal for Liverpool, reaching the milestone in 151 games. In doing so, he became the fastest player for the club to achieve the landmark.
Having made a fine start to the new season, Salah, even as talks over a new deal continue to drag on, will be hoping to make a decisive impact and put Liverpool in the driving seat in Group B. The Egyptian international is the club’s joint-top scorer away from home in the Champions League, along with Sadio Mane (11) and will be raring to add to that tally on Tuesday night.
FC Porto 1-2 Liverpool
Porto are yet to lose a single game this season across all competitions and will pose a serious threat to Liverpool, who showed signs of vulnerability at the back against Brentford at the weekend. However, the hosts are without their first-choice goalkeeper and the preferred centre-back pairing, which could end up playing into the hands of the Reds.
With the form that Mohamed Salah has shown leading up to the game, The Hard Tackle is predicting the Egyptian to lead Liverpool to a narrow victory at Estadio Do Dragao, stretching the Reds’ lead at the top of Group B.