​Liverpool travel to the north coast of Portugal for the first-leg of their Champions League knockout stage against FC Porto. 


The Reds have hit a bit of a reef recently, but overall remain in form, having dispatched of ​Huddersfield and Southampton, while also being denied all three points by Spurs at the death.


Nevertheless, Liverpool sit third in the ​Premier League - on account of Chelsea's obscurity - and just two points below ​Manchester United.

Southampton v Liverpool - Premier League

On the other hand, Porto's undefeated start in the Primeira Liga has since seen them jump to the summit, ahead of Lisbon rivals, Sporting Clube and Benfica.


Porto did, of course, beat Sporting in the first-leg of their Taça de Portugal semi-final clash.


Team News

Porto will be sweating on the availability of star striker Vincent Aboubakar. The forward has been in red-hot form for the Portuguese side, scoring 20 goals in 28 matches.


Moreover, the Cameroon player bagged five in the group stage, but is doubtful with a lingering muscle injury which has kept him sidelined in the last two matches.

FBL-POR-LIGA-CHAVES-PORTO

Defender Ivan Marcano remains unavailable, while the absences of Andre Andre and Danilo Pereira weaken Porto midfield depth. Brazilian centre-back Felipe is suspended. 


Emre Can is suspended for the Mersysiders, which may pave the way for Jordan Henderson who did not feature in the win at St. Mary's.


Nathaniel Clyne is back training and has travelled with the squad, but has made no competitive appearances this season, and that is unlikely to change in such a big match.


Loris Karius is set to retain his place as the number one goalkeeper, with confidence in Simon Mignolet at an all-time low. The ex-Mainzer has shown his worth in recent times.


Key Battle

Southampton v Liverpool - Premier League

Moussa Marega vs. Virgil van Dijk


With Aboubakar likely out, Moussa Marega is likely to take precedence up front, but the forward is also a deadly threat. With sixteen goals in twenty league appearances, the Malian hitman will likely be on Klopp's radar.


Virgil van Dijk was brimming with composure and competence in his return to ​Southampton, and, standing at a towering 6ft4, will likely be key in subduing a player with aerial prowess in Marega, as well as marshalling  the back-line.


Prediction

Liverpool went through the group stage undefeated, but were fairly inconsistent. Resounding wins over Spartak and Maribor were impressive, but Porto will take confidence from the performances against Sevilla.


The Dragons have established themselves as a side strong in the air and at set-pieces (ie) things ​Liverpool are not so good at, albeit an improvement is evident, which further highlights the role of van Dijk.


Liverpool must also be wary of the fact Porto have not been bested since mid-October by Naby Keïta's RB Leipzig, and only Besiktas have won at the Estádio do Dragão.


Still, the five-time European Cup winners must take motivation from their small history with Porto, winning two and drawing two, as well as the extensive injury epidemic. 


Score Prediction: Porto 1-2 Liverpool

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