Last season, Porto manager Sérgio Conceição prepared his side for a first leg home date with Liverpool in the Champions League Round of 16. They lost, badly, and with it the tie. In the buildup to this year’s rematch, it’s no surprise it’s been a talking point.
While acknowledging that he certainly didn’t enjoy last season’s lopsided 5-0 first leg loss, Conceição stressed that tonight at Anfield it can’t be about his side seeking out any kind of “revenge” against Liverpool, not if they’re to have a chance to win this tie.
“I don’t like losing,” he noted. “Nobody likes losing in the final stages of the Champions League, particularly the first leg at home. But we don’t need to obsess about that. Negative thoughts are in the past—you don’t measure the value of a teams by one day.”
That result—that one day—was hard on Porto, but they gave a better accounting of themselves in the second leg and have been strong in both the the league and Europe this season, beating Roma to advance and winning four of their last five domestically.
They will be the underdogs here, both tonight and in the draw as a whole. Nobody, least of all Conceição, would argue against that idea. But they will also believe they deserve to be at this stage of the Champions League—and, with that, that they can win.
“I don’t think anyone wanted to draw Liverpool but I think it’s possible to win here,” he added. “We’ve prepared for the game to win—that’s what we’ve worked towards, and we will have to work very hard. There will be different moments in the game.
“We have to be very balanced from an attacking sense, and on other occasions we’ll be defending. The important thing is in these moments we understand what we have to do.”