Porto host Liverpool at Estádio Do Dragão on Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions League on matchday two. The hosts reached last season’s quarter-final and acquitted themselves well against eventual winners, Chelsea. Sérgio Conceição’s team went to Atletico in their first match and arguably deserved to win. Liverpool beat AC Milan 3-2 on matchday one but were excellent and could have won by a greater margin.
The Dragons haven’t lost a match since April’s 2-0 UEFA Champions League quarter-final defeat to Chelsea. They currently sit second in the Primeira Liga and are already four points off Benfica after seven matches (five wins, two draws).
After a 1-1 draw at title rivals Sporting Lisbon, Porto got a very good point away at Atletico Madrid. They mustered 1.8 xG to 0.4 for Atleti and should have left Spain with all three points. Since that match, they have won both league matches. A 5-0 home win against Moreirense was followed by a 2-1 win at Gil Vicente over the weekend. Mehdi Taremi and Sergio Oliveira were on target.
Porto Team News
Conceicao has a major doubt over 38-year-old centre back Pepe. He has missed the last two matches after going off injured against Atletico and hasn’t trained since. That potential loss is made worse by Chancel Mbemba’s suspension after being sent off in the final minute in Spain on matchday one.
Ivan Marcano is expected to start at centre back at the age of 34. He could be partnered by Fabio Cardoso if Pepe is out. Experienced goalkeeper Marchesin missed out due to injury. Former Liverpool midfielder Marko Grujic will hope to start in central midfield. Striker Moussa Marega is a major loss from last season after his departure.
Porto will be desperate for a home win knowing how difficult this group stage is. They will want to build on a strong point in their first match.
Conceicao tends to play a very compact, aggressive pressing style not that different from the early days of Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool ended last season really well and have largely been very good this term. A 3-0 win at Norwich and 2-0 win at home against Burnley began the season in steady form for the Reds. After that, they struggled to break down ten-man Chelsea at Anfield and could only draw 1-1.
Since that draw, Liverpool have scored three goals in each of their next five matches, winning 3-0 at Leeds, 3-2 at home against AC Milan and then 3-0 vs Crystal Palace in the league. A 3-0 win in the Carabao Cup followed at Norwich before a shock 3-3 draw at Brentford. The Reds led 2-1 and 3-2 but twice surrendered an advantage.
Liverpool Team News
Jurgen Klopp is without long-term injured Harvey Elliott in midfield as well as Thiago Alcantara. Naby Keita has travelled and is in contention to start. The manager has a full squad to choose from otherwise and is expected to give Virgil Van Dijk a midweek start having used him for just one match per week so far. Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate will hope for a chance to partner him.
Roberto Firmino is back from injury but may need to make do with a place on the bench. Diogo Jota is expected to get the nod in his homeland.
Liverpool will look to win this match and take a big step towards qualification. They won’t consider a draw to be a disaster but also won’t play for one at any stage unless really under pressure.
Klopp also won’t take chances with players like Van Dijk if they need to be substituted after an hour but he will play to win and assert the pressing style onto Porto.
Porto are unbeaten in 18 matches in all comps (W13, D5)
Porto have lost 4-1 and 5-0 to Liverpool the last two times they’ve hosted them
Liverpool are 16 matches unbeaten since April (W11, D5)
Liverpool have scored 15 goals in their last 5 matches (3 in each match)
Liverpool are 4 matches unbeaten against Porto (W3, D1)
Liverpool are certainly favoured to win this match. Considering their 9-1 aggregate wins over two recent trips to Porto and the injuries and suspensions for the home team in defence, Liverpool should win this by more than one goal and it could be worth backing them to beat a -2 spread.