Liverpool aren’t about to take their opponents FC Porto lightly when the two sides meet in the Champions League Round of 16 on Wednesday night. That was Jürgen Klopp’s message as he spoke to reporters at a pre-match press conference shortly after the team landed in Portugal.
“I respect Porto a lot,” Klopp noted. “They are a mix of football and fight, experience and youth, and well organised. I like it. But to be honest, they’ve not played 20 times against a team like us. We are not too bad either, and we want to show that and use it, and we will see tomorrow night and in two weeks.”
After a strong group stage and with Liverpool level with City as the Premier League’s in form side so far in 2018, some have suggested Liverpool will be the side everyone else remaining in the competition will want to avoid going forward. The Liverpool manager, though, doesn’t want to look past this round.
Porto are undefeated in league play this season with a stingy defence and potent attack, and if Liverpool allow their minds to wander to what might happen after the Round of 16 their opponents are more than capable of knocking them out of the competition before they reach that stage.
“Does that happen a lot in the Champions League?” Klopp said incredulously when asked if he thought his side could seal the tie with a strong performance on Wednesday. “That one game decides it? I’ve not thought about that. We need to get a result here, but you can imagine we believe in Anfield.
“We know it’s a place the crowd can make a difference. But to use that in the second game we need to do the job in the first game. We are looking to get a result to give us a chance in the second game. But it will be hard, we know that.”