Anfield hosts a Champions League knockout fixture for the first time since 2009 on Tuesday with Porto the opposition. The Portuguese giants have a mountain to climb having been beaten 5-0 by the Reds, in Porto, on Valentine’s Day.
Both sides come into the game on the back of wins in their respective leagues this weekend. The Primeira Liga leaders beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1 this week and are in consistent league form. They are currently top of the Primeira Liga: 5 points ahead of Benfica and 8 above Sporting Lisbon. The demolition job by Liverpool at the Estádio do Dragão came as a surprise to many due to Porto’s fine form which has seen them only conceding on 13 occasions in the league this season.
READ MORE: Five talking points from the 5-0 win
The Reds beat Newcastle comfortably on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Rafa Benitez’s side with goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. LFC’s front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are in great form. Liverpool’s last 17 goals have all been either scored or assisted by the trio.
It is difficult to guess the LFC XI for Tuesday: the Reds having a 5-0 aggregate lead and Manchester United next in the league. Nobody would be shocked to see Klopp make wholesale changes for tomorrow’s game. That said, the Liverpool boss said he will only make “two or three changes” in his presser earlier today, “We respect Porto too much and respect the competition too much to think about real rotation.”
Klopp also confirmed in his presser that both Wijnaldum and Woodburn are still unavailable due to illness. Loris Karius has played every Champions League game this season for LFC and is expected to start. Nathanial Clyne could play some part after returning from his long-term back injury.
Porto are boosted by the return of star striker Vincent Aboubakar who was injured for the first leg. Despite this, Porto have a bit of a crisis and will be without Alex Telles, Moussa Marega and Danilo tomorrow evening: all three have been crucial players for the Portuguese Giants this season.
The Reds have been fantastic in the Champions League this season, currently the competitions top scorers. James Milner leads the assist chart in the competition with 6 assists and Karius has the joint most clean sheets with 4.
Liverpool are unbeaten against Porto having played them previously 5 times. The Reds have won on 3 occasions and there have been 2 draws. The Reds are also unbeaten in the Champions League this season and have only lost once at Anfield in all competitions so far.
A statistic did the rounds after the win in Porto: the two other occasions that Liverpool have won in Portugal, they have gone on to win the Champions League that season. Whilst it’s too early to suggest anything of the sort at the moment, there’s no harm in beginning to dream of a sixth Champions League trophy in Kiev later this season.
READ MORE: Match Analysis from the first leg
Whilst the tie is far from over, I expect Klopp to still take the opposition seriously and give the Portuguese the respect they deserve by putting out a strong side and not making too many changes. No side has ever progressed through to the next round of the Champions League after losing 5-0 in the home leg of a knockout stage tie but Porto won’t go out without a fight. I predict a 3-1 win for the Reds.
The referee for tomorrow’s match is Felix Zwayer. The German has refereed three other Champions League games this season giving 16 yellow cards. He produced a red card when he refereed Benfica vs Manchester United in October, sending off Luisao in second half stoppage time.