Liverpool host Porto at Anfield on Tuesday night with top spot and qualification secured. They have a fearsome record against the Portuguese giants but are intending to rest several players. Porto would qualify with a win and still have progression in their own hands regardless of their result in this match.
Liverpool has lost just once in their last 27 matches in all competitions. Their form in the Champions League has been sensational with four wins from four matches and a top spot already secured. Milan was beaten 3-2, Porto was thrashed 5-1 away and then Atletico Madrid was beaten home and away.
After throwing away a 2-0 lead at home to draw 2-2 with Brighton, they bounced back to the cruise to a 2-0 home win against Atletico. A surprise 3-2 defeat at West Ham followed to end a 25-match unbeaten run. Liverpool bounced back though to thrash Arsenal 4-0 in their last match in a top performance.
Liverpool Team News
Jurgen Klopp has a difficult team selection. With a large number of injuries, it may not be easy to rest as many players as he wants without throwing young players into the deep end. He will likely play a very strong team but hope his players don’t exert themselves too much.
Roberto Firmino, Joe Gomez, and Harvey Elliot are all out. The match also looks set to come too soon for midfielders James Milner and Naby Keita. Diogo Jota has a knee problem and is doubtful in the attack. Left-back Andy Robertson and midfielder Jordan Henderson are not 100% and will probably be substituted. Divock Origi has been ill but could return. Takumi Minamino looks a certain starter and Ibrahima Konate should start in defence to allow Virgil Van Dijk a rest.
There isn’t much to play for in this match and Klopp will be more concerned with the upcoming Southampton match in the league. He has said he wants to treat the competition with respect and that should be reflected in the team’s approach and his team selection.
It is unlikely that a very intense and aggressive approach will be adopted as the players look to play within themselves to avoid injury.
Porto sits top of the Primeira Liga with nine wins and two draws in their 11 league matches. Their last three matches have been won 12-2 on aggregate. The Champions League has seen relatively good results. A 0-0 away draw at Atletico Madrid was followed by a 5-1 home thrashing by Liverpool with both starting center backs absent.
A 1-0 home win against AC Milan followed and they drew 1-1 away in the return fixture having led 1-0 after an hour. Porto produced 1.9 xG to just 0.5 xG
Porto Team News
Porto has a major injury doubt of top center back Pepe. He has trained a little but still requires a fitness test to see if he can play. Ivan Marcano is another central defender with an injury and Sergio Conceicao will be desperate to get one of them into his starting XI.
Porto rested some players this past weekend who will all return to start. They include goalkeeper Diogo Costa, key midfielder Sergio Oliveira, and top winger Luis Diaz.
Porto host Atletico in the last match and a win in that one will see them qualify regardless of matchday 5 results. If Atletico beat Milan in the other match, then even a draw at Anfield for Porto won’t make a difference going into the final match.
They will want to be much more solid than in Portugal and will be highly motivated knowing that Liverpool could rest some key players and that a victory on English soil will secure qualification.
Liverpool have lost 1 of their last 27 matches
Liverpool have seen a 21-3 aggregate scoreline across their previous 6 UCL matches against Porto
Liverpool are unbeaten in their 9 meetings with FC Porto in European competition (W6 D3)
Porto have only won 1 of their 22 away games against English teams in European competition (D3 L18)
FC Porto have kept clean sheets in 7 of their last 9 group stage CL matches
This match is so hard to call due to uncertainty over Liverpool’s team selection. It may be worth waiting until an hour before kickoff when the lineups are released. If Klopp selects quite a strong team, his side is capable of winning. If he rests plenty of players, then maybe a score draw is the best bet or simply going for the match to see plenty of goals.
Best Bet: Both Teams to Score at 1.68
Alternative Bet: Over 3.5 goals at 1.85
Goalscorer Tip: Salah anytime scorer at 2.10 (if he starts)
Alternative Bet: Liverpool win/draw double chance + over 2.5 goals at 2.40