Porto vs Liverpool Preview:
Probable starting lineups:
Casillas, Pereira, Marcano, Reyes, Telles, Brahimi, Oliveira, Herrera, Corona, Soares, Marega
Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Firmino, Mane
Porto are the former European champions and this fact should not be underestimated. The Portuguese side won the trophy in the seasons 1986/87 and 2003/04. They also won the Europa League on two occasions (2002/03 and 2010/11), so it is clear they have plenty of European experience. This season Porto were in group with Besiktas, Leipzig and Monaco. They managed to earn 10 points after three victories and one draw. However, something else is important for my pick. The matches played at home were very efficient. In the first match at Dragao, Porto lost 3:1 to eventual group winners Besiktas, while in the next two rounds they obtained two victories - 3:1 against Leipzig and 5:2 against Monaco. As You could see, a total of 15 goals were scored, while Porto have netted and conceded on each game. The domestic form is also good, Porto currently sit top of the Primeira league by two points. They are yet to lose domestically at all and the players confidence is high. Porto are in series of three consecutive victories in all competitions. They managed to beat Braga (3:1) and Chaves (4:0) in Primeira, and Sporting in the cup. Coach Sergio Conceicao will be missing the suspended Felipe, while four additional players are struggling with injuries - Ivan Marcano, Vincent Aboubakar, Danilo Pereira and Andre Andre are rated as doubtful.
Liverpool are also the former European champions. They won the trophy on five occasions, in the seasons 1976/77, 1977/78, 1980/81, 1983/84 and 2004/05. This season was good for the Reds and they finished on top of their group. The away matches have produced a huge amount of goals - total of 15, which means an average of 5 per game. Just like Porto's home matches. Liverpool won 7:0 against Maribor in Slovenia, while the remaining two away games finished with draw - 3:3 with Sevilla and 1:1 with Spartak Moscow. Klopp will once again start with three strikers and in-form Mohamed Salah will try to continue his scoring show. The Egyptian international has now hit 29 goals this season. He also has eight assists, meaning he had hand in 37 goals in total. Roberto Firmino should also be mentioned, he is the tournament’s joint-second leading goalscorer with six goals. Liverpool are in solid form at the moment. They have two wins and one draw on the last three matches. The Reds managed to beat Huddersfield and Southampton, while shared the points with Tottenham. However, the Merseysiders are inconsistent. They suffered two defeats in late-January, from Swansea City in the Premier League and from West Bromwich in the FA Cup. Klopp will be missing the midfielder Emre Can due to suspension, while few more players are struggling with injuries. Nathaniel Clyne is long-term injury victim, while Joe Gomez is rated as doubtful. Alberto Moreno is available again having made the bench on Sunday.
Porto vs Liverpool Prediction:
I expect both teams to score here. Liverpool are favorites, however Porto are very experienced side. Just for comparison, Liverpool are in the knock-out stage of some European competition for the first time since 2009. Porto play efficient matches at home, a total of 15 goals were scored on three games at Dragao, with Porto scoring and conceding on each of them. Liverpool's away matches have also produced 15 goals. Considering these facts, I expect goals on both ends.
Porto vs Liverpool Pick: Both teams to score - Yes