Roberto Firmino wants Liverpool to make Porto suffer
“I don’t know if Porto are going to be afraid but we are going to make their life difficult.”
Roberto Firmino does not know if Champions League opponents Porto are afraid of Liverpool and their goalscoring threat but he hopes to make them suffer in the Estadio do Dragao.
Jurgen Klopp’s side qualified unbeaten top of their group after scoring 23 goals, a record for an English club and a competition total surpassed only by Paris St Germain (25), also this season.
Nineteen of those goals came from Firmino (six), Mo Salah (five), Coutinho (five) and Sadio Mane (three) and although one of that quartet is now with Barcelona it does not make them much less of a threat.
“I don’t know if Porto are going to be afraid but we are going to make their life difficult and make them suffer,” said Firmino, who has 20 goals for the season in all competitions.
The last-16 draw against Porto was a kind one for Liverpool but even after their goalscoring exploits in the group stage no-one is tipping them to challenge the established Champions League order of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus.
It was put to Klopp that no-one fancied the Reds side which won in Istanbul in 2005 after scraping through the group stage with a last-gasp win over Olympiacos.
That provoked a blunt response from the German.
“If we are in the final then I’ll say we will try to win it but that is too far off,” he said.
“I don’t like talking about the round after the round you are playing, in fact I hate it.
“I only answer nicely now because I am friendly and we are in public but if someone asked me about the round after the round in private, I would leave the room.”
Midfielder Emre Can is suspended for the first leg while record signing Virgil van Dijk is set for his first appearance in the competition for the club he joined in January.
Defender Joe Gomez has travelled with the squad after missing the last two matches with a knee injury and Loris Karius keeps his place in goal.
Porto have not beaten Liverpool in four previous meetings although their overall home record against English clubs is won eight, drawn six and lost three with already-qualified Leicester defeated 5-0 in last season’s group stage.
However, their record against Premier League sides in two-legged ties is poor with just three wins in 10 encounters, losing the last four, and they have not beaten English opposition in the knockout stage since Jose Mourinho’s team eliminated Manchester United en route to winning the competition in 2003/04.
Porto had a doubt over key defender Ivan Marcano, who has not featured since January 26, but he undertook light training this week and declared himself fit to play. However, his regular partner Felipe is suspended.
Coach Sergio Conceicao said: “We will face a very strong team, with a budget of over 200 million euros, but two historical clubs face each other and the players give me the confidence to think that we can pass this tie.
“Often the key is the defensive consistency of the team. Not conceding goals, we are always closer to winning the game, no doubt.”