Football News

Jurgen Klopp backs his ‘Porto specialist’ to guide Liverpool through Champions League tie

By Danny Lavelle

Published: 12:43, 17 March 2019

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his assistant manager Pep Lijnders will be key to getting them through to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

After an emphatic victory over Bayern Munich, Klopp’s men drew Portuguese outfit Porto in the quarter-finals – a repeat of last season’s round-of-16 tie.

Do Liverpool have the advantage over Porto? Five things to know…

  1. Liverpool are unbeaten against Porto, having won three and drawn three of the six games they’ve played.
  2. The Reds are clear favourites in this tie after hammering the Portuguese champions last season in the round-of-16.
  3. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino all scored in a 5-0 first-leg romping, before Porto managed a goalless draw at Anfield.
  4. Klopp is also confident because his assistant, Pep Lijnders, has inside information on the Portuguese outfit.
  5. The two sides will square off on April 9 at Anfield, before the return leg on April 17.

Klopp is aware of the challenge ahead of the Reds, but is not sweating too much as he backs assistant Lijnders to get his side ready for the clash.

“What can I say? It’s Porto and we’ve played there already and we know how good we had to be last year,” the Liverpool boss told Liverpool’s official website.

“The result in the end was a strange one; it was very good for us, of course, but it was a strange one. In the second leg, we saw the character of Porto and the quality they have.

“I could not be further away from thinking it’s the best draw because it isn’t – it is just the draw, it’s the opponent we have to prepare for and that’s all we will be thinking about from when we start preparing for the game.

“We have a specialist for Porto in our own team in Pep Lijnders being there in the past – and he always speaks with so much respect for that club. We will have plenty of information and that’s what you need before a game, but you still have to play it. Now we know it, let’s prepare.”

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Even if the German coach won’t admit it, the Reds have one of the more easier fixtures in the quarterfinals. Premier League rivals Manchester City have a tough game against Tottenham Hotspur, while Manchester United have a mountain to climb against Barcelona.

The Reds beat the Portuguese giants in last year’s round of 16, winning 5-0 on aggregate, all of those goals being earned away from home.

Porto determined to not make same mistakes this time

Porto manager Sergio Conceicao is conscious of the mistakes that allowed Liverpool to roll over them in the first leg of their round-of-16 clash last season.

The Portuguese champions gave themselves a mountain to climb in the second leg after conceding five unanswered goals at home, and Conceicao is determined not to make the same mistake this time around.

“We have to understand what we didn’t do well last year,” Conceicao told reporters.

“[The Liverpool] is a team that knows very well and that we identify their dynamics very well.

“It’ll be two good games. The important thing at this point is to value our presence among the eight best teams in Europe. “