Liverpool host Porto in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night as attention turns away from their Premier League title challenge.
The Reds climbed back to the top of the Premier League table on Friday night with a 3-1 victory over Southampton, extending their unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions.
However, Jurgen Klopp will be seeking a much-improved performance from the one against Southampton, where Liverpool struggled to assert their dominance over the South Coast side until the final 10 minutes.
In Porto, they face a familiar foe, having dispatched the Portuguese giants 5-0 at least season’s last-16 stage. Still, the Dragons are joint-top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga and have lost just one of their last 10 games across all competitions, including their comeback against Roma in the previous round.
Moussa Marega is the Champions League’s joint-second-highest goalscorer so far this season with six goals, while young defender Eder Militao will be keen to prove himself against one of Europe’s most formidable sides ahead of his summer move to Real Madrid.
Any complacency from Liverpool could turn out to be quite costly and they will be looking for the kind of assertive performance that took down Bayern Munich in the previous round.
Read on for Liverpool v Porto predictions, stats, TV channel info and team news.
When is Liverpool v Porto?
Competition: Champions League
Date: Tuesday, 9 April
Kick-off: 8PM GMT
Where can I watch live?
UK residents can watch Liverpool v Porto on BT Sport 3, channel 417 for Sky customers and channel 529 for Virgin Media users.
Are Liverpool lucky?
Liverpool scored in the final 10 minutes for a third successive Premier League game during Friday night’s 3-1 win over Southampton, while they have profited from a number of goalkeeping errors in recent months: Jordan Pickford’s Merseyside derby howler and Hugo Lloris’ spill at Anfield are the most memorable.
That has seen some rival fans and pundits label Liverpool as ‘lucky’, although Klopp has been quick to dismiss this and feels his team are earning their luck through hard work.
“If you won the games, it looks like it was always lucky or whatever because we score late goals,” he told reporters.
“I would say that against Tottenham, of course, because that kind of goal we will not sore a lot of times but even that was a routine from the training ground.
“It was completely different at Southampton. We have late goals but we scored the goals because we played a lot better in the second half.”
The horrific record Porto must end to stand a chance vs Liverpool
If last season’s 5-0 thrashing didn’t spell it out enough, Porto are useless against Liverpool.
They’ve met the Merseysiders on six occasions before and to date, have failed to register a single win, losing three and drawing three. Last season’s 0-0 at Anfield shouldn’t even count, though, as they were already 5-0 down from the first leg.
Furthermore, the Dragons have managed just two goals against the Reds, which both came during the 2007/08 group stage. Of course, Porto failed to win either tie, drawing 1-1 at home and falling to a 4-1 defeat at Anfield.
If they’re to stand any chance against last season’s Champions League runners-up, they’re going to have to show far more backbone in defence and develop an adventurous streak going forward.
Can Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain play?
Joe Gomez hasn’t featured for Liverpool since suffering an ankle injury against Burnley in December while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been sidelined since last season’s semi-final against Roma with severe ligament damage.
Both are now back in training but while it is widely acknowledged that Oxlade-Chamberlain’s comeback is still a little further away, many were asking whether Gomez would be included in Tuesday’s squad.
However, Klopp dismissed this, telling reporters: “We want to have Joe around; not because he’s 100 per cent ready but it’s just nice to have him.
“For him it’s better to have more sessions – he needs that, he’s not long enough in training. If we are not struggling player wise then we should not think about Joe for the next one or two weeks.”
During their six previous meetings, Liverpool have enjoyed a wonderful record against Porto, winning three times, avoiding defeat so far and conceding just two goals.
The Reds destroyed their Portuguese counterparts 5-0 away from home during the first leg of their round-of-16 tie in last season’s Champions League, following that up with a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Liverpool wins: 3 Draws: 3 Porto wins: 0
Left-back Andy Robertson was booked in the previous round against Bayern and will be suspended for the first leg. James Milner is the most likely candidate to step in for the Scotland international
Adam Lallana is a doubt with a muscle problem, while Gomez (ankle) and Oxlade-Chamberlain (thigh) are still on the comeback trail. Neither are likely to feature but Gomez is the more likely of the two.
Porto centre-forward Vincent Aboubakar has been out since September with a ruptured cruciate knee ligament, while defender Alex Telles is doubtful with bursitis and would be a huge miss.
Pepe and Hector Herrera are suspended for the first leg but will return for the return leg at Estádio do Dragão after picking up bookings against Roma in the previous round.
Liverpool predicted XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Milner; Keita, Henderson, Fabinho; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
Predicted Porto XI: Casillas; Pereira, Militão, Felipe, Manafá; Otávio, Óliver, Pereira, Brahimi; Marega, Tiquinho.
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How everyone thinks Liverpool will line-up
1. Matip to drop out for Lovren
Despite doing an admirable job alongside Virgil van Dijk in the absence of Gomez and Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip is definitely Liverpool’s fourth-most convincing centre-back and, with Gomez nearing a return and Lovren making cameo appearances from the bench recently, Klopp’s options are looking much better.
The Evening Standard believe Klopp will use Tuesday night as a chance to get some minutes under Lovren’s belt as Liverpool enter a huge sprint toward the end of the season in both the Champions League and Premier League.
The Evening Standard’s predicted Liverpool XI v Porto: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Milner, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Fabinho, Mane, Firmino, Salah.
2. Matip to keep his place, Henderson to return
The Independent reckon Klopp will stick with Matip, while Friday night’s goalscoring hero, Jordan Henderson, could be set for a return to the starting line-up.
Henderson adds a mix of defensive solidarity and long passing range to Liverpool’s midfield and his goal against Southampton suggests an added intelligence when making late runs into the box.
The Independent’s predicted Liverpool XI v Porto: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold; Matip, Van Dijk, Milner; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
3. Keita to keep his place after Southampton strike
Georginio Wijnaldum has been an industrial machine in Liverpool’s midfield this season but with a frantic run-in to come, even he will need a rest.
This could come on Tuesday night and we believe Klopp could be pondering giving Naby Keita another confidence boost after he bagged his first league goal for Liverpool last week.
Squawka’s predicted Liverpool XI v Porto: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Milner; Keita, Henderson, Fabinho; Mane, Firmino, Salah.
Porto are highly likely to pose a tougher test than they did in the first leg of last year’s last-16 tie between these two.
That said, it doesn’t matter whether you collapse early or bunker down and try to grind a result out; Liverpool will eventually break through. We’re expecting a Liverpool win and a clean sheet to leave the Reds in a commanding position. Liverpool 2-0 Porto.