Porto may not leave Liverpool without making their mark
Anfield goal not beyond Portuguese giants
Champions League last-16 second leg
BT Sport 3, 7.45pm Tuesday
Anfield has staged countless great European nights down the years but this, courtesy of last month’s masterclass at the Dragao, almost certainly won’t be one of them.
Liverpool’s 5-0 romp at Porto in the first leg of this last-16 tie means Jurgen Klopp’s side can ease into the quarter-finals, and also means the German can already be thinking ahead to Saturday lunchtime’s crunch Premier League dust-up against bitter rivals Manchester United.
Klopp, of course, will insist he’s only got eyes for the Portuguese league leaders and won’t be taking undue risks despite their handsome advantage.
But he can afford to tweak his team if he so wishes and he can certainly afford to be bold with the players he takes off if the game is done and dusted by the hour mark.
Porto probably don’t have the stomach for the fight given the state of the tie – they have had five days to recover since beating Sporting Lisbon 2-1 to strengthen their grip on top spot in the Primeira Liga and that is now the club’s focus.
But coach Sergio Conceicao has brought a strong squad to Merseyside and his team have been in wonderful form over the past three weeks and they are definitely capable, under no pressure and away from the demands of their own fans, of landing a blow before they fly back.
They have scored 15 goals in their four games since that home humbling by the Reds and with main striker Vincent Aboubakar fit to start, Porto can find the net.
Given that we know Liverpool can find the net – they’ve done so 105 times this season already – the 17-20 that both sides score appeals, though the 11-10 that both sides score and there are at least three goals in the game is a slightly riskier proposition also well worth chewing over.
Porto certainly won’t want to endure another night of embarrassment though they are hard to like as an outright bet even at fancy odds. They have lost their last five matches away at Premier League opposition, the most recent at Leicester last term.
They are far less likely to be carved open by Mo Salah and chums, with Felipe reunited alongside Ivan Marcano, though you’d imagine Liverpool’s intense pressure will be rewarded at some point.
The Reds scored 12 goals at home in three Group E matches in the autumn and have lost only one of 21 at Anfield this season, an FA Cup tie against West Brom.
Salah has scored in each of his last seven games and is such a hot property that he’s odds-on in anytime scorer betting.
At the other end Liverpool have kept four clean sheets in six, which contrasts impressively with no clean sheets in six prior to that. Virgil van Dijk’s presence is clearly being felt.
Porto barely tested them defensively in the first game, creating only a handful of half-decent chances.
It’s 23-20 that Liverpool score in both halves, which they’ve done in each of their last three, though there’s an argument to be made for Porto scoring in the second half at 7-5, especially if Klopp takes a couple of key men off with Saturday in mind. Porto have scored second-half goals in seven of their last eight.
Over 0.5 Porto second-half goals
1pt 7-5 Betfair
Emre Can is available after being banned for the first leg but Gini Wijnaldum has not recovered from illness. Nathaniel Clyne remains sidelined.
Felipe returns after a one-match ban. Left-back Alex Telles and holding midfielder Danilo are injured. Forwards Tiquinho and Moussa Marega have also not travelled.
Liverpool have scored at least two goals in each of their last eight home matches.
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