Liverpool will make Porto suffer, warns Roberto Firmino

Jürgen Klopp says his team have nothing to fear after defeating Manchester City at Anfield

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match against FC Porto. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match against FC Porto. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images

 

Jürgen Klopp has declared Manchester City the strongest team in Europe, but believes their recent defeat at Anfield is proof Liverpool have no reason to fear anyone in this season’s Champions League.

Liverpool play their first knock-out fixture in the competition for nine years at Porto on Wednesday and in confident form judging by the appearance of Klopp and Roberto Firmino at the pre-match press conference.

“I don’t know if Porto are going to be afraid,” said the Brazilian forward at Estádio Do Dragão. “But we are going to make their life difficult and make them suffer.”

Klopp bridled at a suggestion that Liverpool, the highest-ever scoring English team in a Champions League group stage this season, could emulate Rafael Benítez’s side of 2005 and win the trophy for a sixth time.

“I don’t like talking about the round after the round you are playing, in fact I hate it,” he said. “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.”

Formidable foe

The Liverpool manager was more bullish, however, on his team’s ability to compete with every formidable foe remaining in the competition. He said: “I know already we can compete with them. Probably the strongest team in Europe at the minute is Manchester City. We’ve played them twice and that was at the highest level. PSG is a little bit different but I don’t look at them, I only know already that if we meet them we could beat them.

Coutinho is a great player and when he left that put a greater responsibility on everyone else to perform, but it is our job to deal with that responsibility

“That’s how it is but it’s not important. We are here in Porto, that’s the only thing. We can make one big mistake in life – of course, we as a team would never do that – but I know when the draw came out it was like, ‘thank god, Porto’. But now Porto is here and it’s quite a hurdle, a nice hill we have to go over. It’s interesting.

“We are confident because of playing good football through the group stage and now we are here; the last 16. Everything is good about being here: the planes are better, the stadiums are better, the cities are better, even the food is better. So it is cool. You feel it when you come to the press conference – usually I don’t like it but in a press conference in the Champions League I think it’s a little bit nicer. It’s really exciting and a strong side. I met Iker Casillas a few minutes ago and you think: ‘Oh yes! The goalkeeper is not too bad as well!’”

Liverpool players during training at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto on Tuesday. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters
Liverpool players during training at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto on Tuesday. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

The Portuguese league leaders have won 12 of 14 games since their last appearance in the Champions League, a 5-2 win over Monaco, with their only defeat in that sequence coming on penalties against Sporting Lisbon in the cup. Their main concern ahead of Liverpool’s visit is the disruption to the defensive unit that would usually be charged with containing Klopp’s attack. Iván Marcano has not played since January 24th due to a thigh injury, central defensive partner Felipe is suspended and defensive midfielder Danilo is out with a calf problem.

Transfer

Marcano, however, declared himself fit on the eve of the game. “I am ready if the coach decides I’m going to play,” said the Spanish defender, who described Liverpool as “a complete team”. Porto coach Sérgio Conceição claimed last month that it was a boost to see his Champions League rivals sell Philippe Coutinho, but played down the significance of the transfer on Tuesday. “They have also bought some more great players so they are still a very strong side,” Conceição said.

It is stretching it to say Liverpool are as strong without the player Barcelona bought for £142 million last month, but the threat posed by Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané has not diminished in his absence. Firmino admitted: “Coutinho is a great player and when he left that put a greater responsibility on everyone else to perform, but it is our job to deal with that responsibility.”

Only Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar and Edinson Cavani have been more prolific as a pair this season than Firmino and Salah, who are responsible for 49 Liverpool goals between them compared to 56. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, with nine, has scored more Champions League goals than Firmino this term, the Brazilian’s seven including one in the qualifying round against Hoffenheim.

Klopp added: “I don’t think Roberto has stepped up but maybe it is more obvious [what he contributes] because his situations are not overshadowed by Phil Coutinho’s situations. He’s a very important player and he doesn’t always have to be the standout player. I don’t think he is underrated, not anymore. People with a football brain judge him right. That’s how it is.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.