05 March 2018

Liverpool v Porto 03.06.18

Liverpool lead 5-0 on aggregate

2:45pm ET, live in the US on Fox Sports 2

Group Stage results:
Liverpool: 7-0 Spartak (h); 3-3 Sevilla (a); 3-0 Maribor (h); 7-0 Maribor (a); 1-1 Spartak (a); 2-2 Sevilla (h)
Porto: 5-2 Monaco (h); 1-1 Besiktas (a); 3-1 RB Leipzig (h); 2-3 RB Leipzig (a); 3-0 Monaco (a); 1-3 Besiktas (h)

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-0 Newcastle (h); 4-1 West Ham (a); 5-0 Porto (a)
Porto: 2-1 Sporting (h); 5-1 Portimonense (a); 3-1 Estoril (a)

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Firmino 8; Salah 7; Mané 6; Coutinho 5; Can 3; Alexander-Arnold 2; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sturridge 1
Porto: Aboubakar 5; Brahimi, Danilo, Felipe, Herrera, Layon, Marcano, M Pereira, Telles, Tiquinho 1

Referee: Felix Zwayer (GER)

Guess at a line-up:
Gomez Lovren van Dijk Moreno
Lallana Can Milner
Mané Ings Alex O-C

Klopp's told white lies in press conferences before. "Van Dijk won't start" before Everton remains my favorite. But it's still hard to take him much further than face value.

Still, you'd think we'd see more than "one, two, three" changes when Liverpool go into this with a 5-0 lead. Especially with a trip to Manchester United on Saturday.

The above guess has five changes from the XI against Newcastle. Gomez and Moreno starting for the first time in more than a month, Lallana's third start of the season, Ings' first start under Jürgen Klopp, Milner coming back into the competition where he's thrived, the leading assist provider in the Champions League this season. It seems an opportunity for all of those players, who could well be needed during the run-in.

But basically, I just want to see Firmino and Salah get a game off. Firmino's started the last 10 in a row, Salah the last nine, going back to January 5th and 14th respectively. But it's very hard to change that front three, with the shape they're in, with the form they're in.

Can's probably better able than Henderson to deal with three matches in seven days, even though the German's played a lot more of late. Wijnaldum and Woodburn remain absent. Nat Clyne's probably not ready to start his first match of the season.

Meanwhile, Porto have won four in a row since losing to Liverpool, scoring five goals in two of those four. Liverpool currently have *checks stats* a five-goal lead. Gulps, tugs collar, etc.

But Porto are also still struggling with injuries. Danilo remains absent, while Telles, Marega, and Tiquinho – all starters from the last leg – didn't travel. Aboubakar and Corona are in the squad, but the former just came back from a few weeks out, while Corona also missed a little time before returning as a sub on Saturday.

Porto are five points ahead in the Primeira Liga – a solid, but not unbeatable lead with nine games to play. Do they risk the first XI with so many absent given it's exceedingly unlikely they'll overturn a five-goal deficit, choosing to focus on what's left in the league?

Yeah, probably. This is the Champions League, after all. And stranger things have happened.

My very-much-a-guess XI is Casillas; Maxi Pereira, Felipe, Marcano, Dalot; Otavio, Herrera, Oliviera, Brahimi; Paciencia, Aboubakar. 4-4-2 rather than 4-2-3-1. Try to get at Liverpool as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Maybe an early goal leads to two and from there, who knons what's possible?

Or maybe Aboubakar stays on the bench and it's 4-2-3-1 with Otavio or Oliver Torres in the hole and Corona or Otavio or Hernani out wide. Or maybe there are even more players included that I know even less about.

To be honest, it doesn't matter. Or, at least, it shouldn't matter. Not as long as Liverpool do what they need to, no matter the starting XI. That's the benefit of how good that Liverpool were the last time these sides spoke.

1 comment :

skinny said...

Have stranger things happened though Nate? Cause I dont think they have. Just saying.