Liverpool vs Porto
| Tuesday April 9th |
Champions League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
As the antepenultimate round of the Champions League rolls around, Liverpool sit top of the Premier League — albeit with a one-game advantage on second placed Manchester City — and Reds fans would do well to take a moment to reflect on just how far the club has come since Jürgen Klopp joined the Merseysiders back in 2015. The group stages may not have gone as smoothly as last year, but the Anfield outfit thoroughly outplayed Bayern Munich in the first stages of the knockout rounds, and quietly remain a dark horse for a cheeky double in 2019.
Their next opponents will be thirsting for revenge, however, as Porto were handily dispatched 5-0 on aggregate in the round of 16 last season, with all five goals coming in the first leg at the Estádio do Dragão. Perennial participants in the competition, Sérgio Conceição’s men haven’t made it out of the quarter finals since winning the whole thing in 2004, and the opportunity to overcome that streak while delivering vengeance for last year’s humiliation will provide no small amount of motivation.
The Dragões could be facing an uphill battle, however, and will be missing a number of key players through injuries and suspensions. Mercurial fullback Alex Telles is unlikely to participate due to bursitis, while captain Hector Herrera and notorious loon Pepe will both be forced to sit out the match with suspensions, leaving the Portuguese side’s defensive end fretfully thin.
No such problems at the other end of the pitch however, and Conceição will be hoping his 48-goal frontline of Tiquinho Soares, Moussa Marega and Yacine Brahimi can cause enough havoc to give his side a positive result ahead of the return leg.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Moreno; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Milner; Mané, Firmino, Salah
There is less to worry about on the injury front for Jürgen Klopp, as his Reds are close to full health just in time for the pointy end of the season. Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are back in training, but unlikely to partake in first team action quite yet, while minor knocks to Georginio Wijnaldum and Joël Matip should be overcome in time for kickoff.
Andrew Robertson’s yellow card suspension could offer a challenge, and we’ll either see James Milner deputy at left-back, or a fifth start of the season for Alberto Moreno. The Reds have a five-day rest before hosting Chelsea on Sunday, and who starts in midfield should be subject to tactical considerations rather than managing minutes. Klopp has shown a predilection for Jordan Henderson alongside Milner and Wijnaldum in the big games this season, and the trio did feature in last year’s 5-0 thumping, so there is every chance the manager goes with his least inventive lineup.
Mohamed Salah notched his 50th league goal at the weekend and will be eager to get a scoring run started, while Sadio Mané — now a goal behind the Egyptian on the season — will want to try and keep up with his teammate.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “The advantage for us tomorrow is we play at home, the advantage for Porto is they can use the game last year as motivation. We cannot use that. We know the result last year is more valuable for Porto than for us.”
Sérgio Conceição: “It’s not about revenge. Last year was one game, these two will have different stories. No momentary results can change our approach as a team, and we must embrace the challenge that we face tomorrow.”
The Officials (ESP)
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Assistant referees: Pau Cebrián Devís, Roberto del Palomar
Fourth official: Ovidiu Haţegan (ROU)
Video Assistant Referees: Jesús Gil Manzano, José María Sánchez
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.