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Liverpool vs Porto: Champions League quarter-final preview

MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 13: Sadio Mane of Liverpool controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Liverpool at Allianz Arena on March 13, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Liverpool will play Porto in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The Reds were the first English side out of the hat and will play their first leg at home to the Portuguese champions on April 9-10, with the return leg scheduled across April 16-17.

The winners of the tie will face either Barcelona or Manchester United.

How they got there

Jurgen Klopp’s men produced an impressive display in Munich to book their place in the last eight, running out 3-1 winners with the in-form Sadio Mane scoring twice.

It took a special finish from Mane to break through a Bayern defence that had frustrated the five-time winners of the competition in a goalless draw at Anfield, and Klopp saw the result as a big step for his side.

He reflected: “We really are back on the landscape of international top football, and tonight we proved that.”

Liverpool’s progression through the competition thus far has not come without its challenges, eventually outlasting a strong Napoli side to finish runners up in Group C behind Paris St Germain.

The Reds’ three wins and three defeats in the group stage paled in comparison to their scintillating league form in 2018, albeit finding themselves in one of the most competitive groups in the competition.

Conversely, Porto had a much easier time of it in Group D, winning five matches and drawing just once to amass 16 points – the most of any team in the group stages.

The last-16 provided a much fiercer test for Sergio Conceicao’s side, as they overturned a 2-1 deficit from their away leg in Roma following a 3-1 victory at the Estadio do Dragao.

Alex Telles scored a VAR awarded penalty in the final minutes of extra-time to ensure the Portuguese side’s progression.

Talking points and players to watch

Porto’s ability to stave off the attacking threat of Liverpool’s dangerous front three will be crucial to determine who progresses into the semi-finals.

The teams met in the last-16 phase of last year’s competition, with Liverpool running out comfortable 5-0 aggregate winners.

Yet Porto have not been shy in front of goal themselves in Europe this season, with their current tally at 19 goals heading into their trip to Anfield.

Conceicao will be looking to replicate the gritty away performance of the German champions back in February and take a manageable task back to Portugal.

Part of that plan will be keeping Sadio Mane quiet.

Mane has scored 10 goals in his last 10 matches, and has scored three braces in his previous four outings.

The Senegalese forward is in superb form and proved too much for the Bayern defence to handle in the last-16 second leg.

Yet Porto certainly have the capability to fight fire with fire.

Moussa Marega produced a man of the match performance in Porto’s home win over Roma, assisting the opening goal by teeing up Francisco Soares before firing his side’s second goal to take the tie to extra time.

Having terrorised the Roma defence all game, the Liverpool backline will have their struggles keeping tabs on the Malian forward.

Who will progress?

Porto head into the quarter finals as complete outsiders to get their hands on the Champions League trophy for the first time since 2004.

Liverpool, on the other hand, have unrivalled firepower in their attacking personnel that should take them one step closer to revisiting the final of Europe’s premier club competition.

Prediction:

First Leg: 3-1 Liverpool

Second Leg: 1-3 Liverpool

Aggregate: Liverpool to progress 6-2

Robert Clayden
Rob, 24, is a history graduate from the University of Warwick. Following his studies, he spent two years working in the education sector as a director at a tutoring firm, and still continues to work with young people in a sports coaching capacity for squash and cricket. Before undertaking his Sports Journalism Master’s at St Mary’s University, Rob spent the summer of 2018 working for digital golf magazine Golf Today. A competitive sportsman, Rob’s personal strengths and interests lie in racket sports, cricket, golf and American sports, and he joins the plethora of Surrey-based Manchester Utd fans that grace the South-East. Recent visits to Boston and San Francisco have affirmed his love for the sports culture in the US, with a more permanent move out there a long-term aspiration. You will likely find him tweeting propaganda for squash’s inclusion as an Olympic sport at anyone who will listen.
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