Liverpool host Porto at Anfield on Tuesday night in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
The Reds returned to the Premier League summit this weekend with a hard-fought victory away at Southampton courtesy of two late scores from Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson. The manner of the win will add to the squad's growing belief that they can win the title, as Jürgen Klopp's men had to show resolve to secure the result with time running out at St. Mary's.
That extra confidence will serve them well against a Porto outfit who have not lost in over month and currently sit top of the Primeira Liga. Whilst Liverpool knocked out German giants Bayern Munich in the last round of the competition, the Portuguese side edged out Roma 4-3 on aggregate.
Here's our preview of the midweek clash.
Where to Watch
When Is Kick Off?
||Tuesday 9 April
|What Time Is Kick Off?
|Where Is it Played?
|TV Channel/Live Stream?
||BT Sport 3
Long-term absentees Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez remain sidelined for the match-up, the pair still recovering from a serious knee injury and a broken ankle respectively. However, they are in line to return within the next two weeks, giving Klopp a boost as his side head into a vital few weeks that will define their season.
Midfielder Adam Lallana is also likely to miss the game as he nurses a muscular problem. Andrew Robertson completes the list of those unavailable for the German coach, the left-back being suspended for the first leg after picking up too many bookings earlier in the tournament.
Like their hosts, Porto have four players missing. Centre-forward Vincent Aboubakar has been out since September with a ruptured cruciate knee ligament, whilst defender Alex Telles has bursitis.
The suspended duo of Pepe and Hector Herrera will return for the second leg at Estádio do Dragão following yellow cards against Roma in the last round.
||Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Milner; Henderson, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mané, Firmino.
||Casillas; Pereira, Militão, Felipe, Manafá; Otávio, Óliver, Pereira, Brahimi; Marega, Tiquinho.
Head to Head Record
The two teams met in the Champions League round-of-16 last season, Liverpool trouncing their opponents 5-0 on aggregate. All the goals came in the first leg of the tie, Sadio Mané grabbing a stunning hat-trick in Portugal. Fellow frontmen Salah and Roberto Firmino also got on the score-sheet to complete the rout.
The return fixture represents only the sixth time they have played each other in history, with Porto never having won against the Merseysiders. That 0-0 stalemate was the third occasion on which the scores had finished level, the Reds having secured three victories in their match-ups.
The overall aggregate score is heavily weighted in the Premier League club's favour. They have amassed 12 goals, whilst only conceding two. That record will leave them assured that they can once again dismiss the Portuguese league leaders.
The home team have not lost a competitive fixture since early January when Wolverhampton Wanderers unceremoniously dumped them out of the FA Cup.
Since then their form has helped them remain firmly in the Premier League title race, now finding themselves two points clear at the top following Friday night's 3-1 triumph at the Saints. However, second-place Manchester City do have a game in hand.
They endured a testing period recently, drawing five out of seven fixtures in all competitions as winter gradually came to a close. Nevertheless, they swiftly rediscovered their predatory instincts and have now won five successive matches.
The visitors have also had an enjoyable beginning to spring and have been in fine form, winning five of their last six games. That run includes their thrilling comeback victory against Roma in which they overturned a first leg deficit to narrowly squeeze past the Italians.
Here's how the two got on in their last five matches:
|Southampton 1-3 Liverpool (05/4)
||Porto 2-0 Boavista (05/4)
|Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham (31/3)
||Braga 1-1 Porto (02/4)
|Fulham 1-2 Liverpool (17/3)
||Braga 2-3 Porto (30/3)
|Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool (13/3)
||Porto 3-0 Maritimo (16/3)
|Liverpool 4-2 Burnley (10/3)
||Feirense 1-2 Porto (10/3)
Porto will be no pushovers and will invariably try to frustrate their opponents. However, their squad lacks the quality that permeates Liverpool's. They will struggle to contain the rampant front-three spearheading the Reds attack, with Mané, in particular, looking electric since the turn of the year.
The English side will be buoyed by recent results, as well as by the knowledge that they thrashed their opponents little over a year ago.
A jubilant Liverpool side teeming with talented individuals should have more than enough to overcome Sérgio Conceição's recruits, especially after looking so cohesive in the games leading up to this encounter.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Porto
Source : 90min