Champions League Liverpool vs Porto: Key battles that could decide crunch quarter-final clash

9 Apr

Putting their quest to win the Premier League momentarily behind them, Liverpool resume Champions League duty when they host FC Porto on Tuesday night.

Having returned to the top of the domestic table after a comeback win at Southampton on Friday, they will now have to deal with the Portuguese league leaders in the quarter-finals.

Liverpool take on Porto and drew 0-0 with them last season in the return leg

Both teams turned in impressive performances in the last round to reach this stage, Liverpool knocking out German giants Bayern Munich, while Porto saw off Roma 4-3 on aggregate.

In the round-of-16 tie last season, Liverpool beat Porto 5-0 on aggregate in the first-leg, Sadio Mane scoring a hat-trick, with the return leg on Merseyside ending in a goalless draw.

There will be a level of familiarity but three key battles could define the outcome of tomorrow’s meeting and edge the winner closer to a last four clash with either Barcelona or Manchester United.

Find out where the tie could be decided below.

Virgil van Dijk v Moussa Marega

Van Dijk has barely put a foot wrong since his move from Southampton in January 2018 and is now among the world’s most consistent defenders.

In the last round against Bayern, he powered in a header to give Liverpool the advantage and his stunning pass set up Mane to score.

The Porto striker (left) scored against Roma

Marega has only found the net twice in 2019, but did so against Roma and has six goals in seven Champions League appearances.

If he can find a way to get past the formidable Dutchman, Porto might have a decent chance.

Sadio Mane v Felipe

The Senegal international is a man in form and has been for most of the campaign.

He recently picked up the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for March after netting five goals in five matches and has 20 in all competitions for the season.

Sadio Mane scores against Bayern Munich

It was his treble last season in the reverse fixture that gave Porto a mountain to climb and he also struck in the final against Real Madrid. Felipe will have his hands full and much of the responsibility in defence will fall on his shoulders, especially without the suspended Pepe.

Jordan Henderson v Danilo

“Hendo, from my point of view, is a brilliant player. He’s our skipper, he’s a fantastic character. If I had to write a book about Hendo, it would be 500 pages. “So I’m very positive. The most difficult job in the last 500 years of football was to replace Steven Gerrard.”

Safe to say Jurgen Klopp was happy with his captain after he came off the bench at St Mary’s to score and wrap up the three points.

Henderson celebrates his goal against Southampton

He will more than likely return to a deeper role in the midfield and dictate play as he did against Bayern, where he made the most passes in his side (72) and possession regained (8) and passes in the opposition half (41).

The England international will come up against Danilo, who has played every minute in the Champions League thus far and will need to be at his best without Hector Herrera beside him, who is suspended for the match.