In the end, the second leg of Liverpool’s Round of 16 Champions League tie against FC Porto was little more than a formality. The Reds’ opponents came to Anfield to manage the game, accepting that advancement was beyond them and happy to sit back and take home a nil-nil draw rather than attack and face another heavy defeat.
For Liverpool, that wasn’t a problem—given the aggregate score stood at 5-0 in their favour, the onus wasn’t on them to push on and create on Tuesday evening—and in the wake of the draw the players, including star winger Sadio Mané, have quickly turned their attentions to Saturday and Manchester United in league action.
“It will not be easy, but I’ve always said we can beat any team in the world,” Mané told Sky Sports when asked about their next match. “Honestly, they are one of the best teams in England—of course in the world also—but we are as well. It’s the dream for every single player to play this kind of game so everyone is looking forward to it.”
It’s a hard point to argue. Right now, the safe money would be on United and the other three English competitors in the Champions League advancing to the next round, and with potentially five of the eight remaining sides in that competition from England the league does appear to be having a moment of dominance.
And if Liverpool can win on Saturday, they will be most people’s favourites to finish the season second in England behind high-flying presumptive champions Manchester City—a side Liverpool have been in better form than domestically over the past ten games, earning 25 points compared to City’s 23 over the same period.
Liverpool, on form and based on their position in England and Europe right now, are one of the best teams in the world—and fully capable of beating any of the other best teams in the world. On Saturday, they get a chance to set down a marker against another such top team as the season enters its final stretch.