The pressure is off for Liverpool tonight as they host FC Porto in the Champions League, but it’s still all to play for as far as the visitors are concerned. The Reds won each of their first four group stage games to seal top spot and qualification to the last 16, while the Portuguese side sit in second with two games to play – just one point ahead of Atletico Madrid.
While some supporters would perhaps like to see the Reds rotate to an extent and preserve the first-choice stars who will have an inevitably busy run over the December fixtures, Jurgen Klopp’s chances of doing that are hampered by ongoing injuries, especially in midfield. They come into this match full of confidence and looking sharp after a thumping win over Arsenal at the weekend, with the Reds having lost just one game in all competitions this term.
Porto are not much worse than that, in fact, with just two defeats for themselves in 2021/22 – but one of those came against the Reds two months ago, when the the trident of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane each found the net in a 5-1 thrashing. Follow all the team news and match action as Liverpool host Porto below:
Liverpool vs Porto latest news
Ahead of the game at Anfield, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was asked about the possibility to rotate his team given the Reds are not only through to the last 16 already, but guaranteed top spot in the group. He acknowledged that he’ll be protecting players who need it, but ruled out fielding a total team of backups and youngsters and noted that fitness and injury risks throughout the squad would play a part in his decision-making.
“We always respect the competition but we have to think about ourselves and our schedule and the situation of our players first,” he said.
“In this time of the season, the medical department has a big hand in line-ups.
“It’s really easy to sit there, all the people who judge us, and say ‘leave him out, leave him out, leave him out’. If we leave them all out and play with a team that is not a Champions League team – we don’t have enough players for that, by the way – then nobody can get injured.”
Liverpool vs Porto latest news
Liverpool hammered Porto 5-1 on their own patch at the Estadio do Dragao in late September, a result which was the first loss of the campaign for Sergio Conceicao and his team. It was a humbling outcome and there were plenty of errors on show from the home side as the Reds ran riot – but ahead of the return fixture at Anfield, the Portuguese side’s manager feels they have now worked through those defensive shortcomings.
“It was some time ago that match. We have corrected our mistakes and we have worked on that,” he said.
“There were some problems in the positions but we analysed it thoroughly and we are focused on the match, it will be a different match. The match is what we make of it. We cannot control the strategy of our opponents but it won’t be significantly different from what they have been showing in recent weeks.
“We have our own weapons, our ambitions and we will go there not just for one more match but a match which will be decisive, crucial.”
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