FC Porto come off to Portugal on Wednesday night with an uphill task as they have a two goal disadvantage to try to overcome against Liverpool in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg.
Estadio do Dragao, Porto, Portugal
Key Stat: Porto have never beaten Liverpool before, losing four times and drawing three times to the Reds.
Expert Verdict: To say this is a major ask of Porto would be a big understatement. The Primeira Liga side have a two goal lead to overturn and they have to do it against a team they have never won against. On top of that, the very same team beat them at this same venue by five a year ago. Circumstances have changed and that means that sort of beating won't be delivered, but there is very little chance of a shock win being on the cards for the hosts. Especially one that would see them go through on aggregate.
Sergio Conceicao continues to miss main striker Vincent Aboubakar, who is out with a knee injury. He played quite a strong team at the weekend, so there was no risking his domestic success for this tie at all. Look for a switch back to a 4-4-2 here as they seek goals and a way back into the tie.
It’s going to be tough, no doubt, but Porto need Tiquinho to step up and provide them a lifeline in this tie. The Brazilian striker has stepped up in Portugal with 13 goals this term but has only found the net once in the Champions League to date. And that needs to be changed soon. Yacine Brahimi is the man that could engineer an opening. The Algerian is lively and smooth on the ball and has picked up two assists so far in the competition to show his quality.
Porto have three wins, a loss, and a draw in their last five matches:
0-3 win at Portimonense
2-0 loss at Liverpool (UCL)
2-0 home win vs Boavista
1-1 draw at Braga (Cup)
2-3 win at Braga
Defenders:Wilson Pereira, Pepe, Militao, Telles
Midfielders:Corona, Herrera, Danilo Pereira, Brahimi
Jurgen Klopp will remain without center back Joe Gomez and center midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for this trip to Portugal, but he otherwise has a strong, deep squad to pick from. He may rotate a little, but he might not feel like he needs to since they head to Cardiff next in the PL.
Sadio Mane kept up his hot streak of scoring on Sunday, heading in Jordan Henderson’s cross to give his side a lead that they would quickly double. He’s scored a bundle of them of late and has enjoyed playing against the hosts in the past. Roberto Firmino will come into this match in great form as well. The Reds’ hard working ‘false’ nine scored and assisted in the first leg and had a major part to play as they held off Chelsea and kept their feet firmly planted in the title race in England.
Liverpool have won each of their last five matches:
2-0 home win vs Chelsea
2-0 home win vs FC Porto (UCL)
1-3 win at Southampton
2-1 home win vs Tottenham
1-2 win at Fulham
Defenders:Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson
Midfielders:Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum
Forwards:Salah, Mane, Origi
In seven previous meetings, FC Porto have failed to muster a win against Liverpool. They have taken three draws, however, so that is something.
Here's a look at the last three results, all of which have come in the last year and change:
Apr 9, 2019: Liverpool 2-0 Porto
Mar 6, 2018: Liverpool 0-0 Porto
Feb 14, 2018: Porto 0-5 Liverpool
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
FC Porto are at 11/4 to win, a draw is at 9/4, and a Liverpool win is at 21/20.
To go through on aggregate, Porto are at 14/1 and Liverpool are at 1/33.
The first leg of this tie was an interesting tactical battle. Jurgen Klopp admitted that he had scouted Porto quite a lot but was shocked that they played three at the back, as they had never done that before. It worked, to some degree, but the Reds still scored twice. The first goal came from Naby Keita after just five minutes. It looked like it could have been a rout, too, when Roberto Firmino scored 21 minutes later. However, they didn’t do much more, and Porto had moments and small chances that they wasted, but nothing truly of note. It’s not all wrapped up yet, but Liverpool have to feel great coming into this one.
Porto enter this match atop the Portuguese Primeira table with 72 points from their opening 29 games. They have only lost three times in the league, showing their usual dominance but are still being pressured from Benfica and share top as it stands. That, however, has just been a piece of their season. They have gotten here to the quarterfinals thanks to a stellar European run. They beat Roma in the Round of 16 to book their place here, following up a fine group win over the likes of Schalke, Galatasaray, and Lokomotiv Moscow. They have won all four home UCL matches this season, and overall, they have lost just three of 22 at home this term.
Liverpool, meanwhile, come into the match in a similar place in their domestic league. They are right in the thick of it with Manchester City, and as a result, they will be a little distracted by the prospect of potentially winning a first PL crown ever. In Europe, they have had an adventurous season. They have looked great at home, but in the group stages, they floundered away from home and lost all three at the hands of Red Star, PSG, and Napoli. However, they did win in Munich against Bayern in dominant fashion, leading you to think that was the ‘real’ Liverpool. In 22 away matches in all competitions, they have five losses and five draws so far.
Ladbrokes have both teams scoring at 8/11.
Mane scoring two or more is at Betfair for 11.0.
Porto threw Liverpool for a small loop with the tactics in the first leg, but they still couldn’t hold the Reds down. It would take a gargantuan effort here, and despite Liverpool’s English aspirations, it’s still far too much to ask of them.