That is one foot in the semi final
A win at home in the first leg with no goals scored against is the ideal score. A larger goal difference would enable Klopp to rest some players in the second leg but the two goal advantage ensures that Liverpool have to focus on the second game. Porto was content with the deficit and continued to play a controlled style of football. They will not be able to do this in the second game and will have to commit more players going forward. This plays into Liverpool’s hands as we thrive on counter attack football. An away goal will have Porto needing four goals which I do not see happening against our defense.
In fact, an early away goal can lead to another huge away win against Porto and will then enable Klopp to rest some of the players as they head back to the Premier League. Early prediction for game 2 is Porto 1 Liverpool 4.
Scoreline would never be able to meet expectations
Last year’s scoreline and Liverpool matching up with perhaps the easiest, most desired match up had the expectations high for this game. The early goal helped keep Anfield in a good mood and prevented any frustration. Most fans desired a better scoreline but this is the quarter finals of the Champions League. Despite the scores of the match-up between these teams last year, this was still a Porto team that eliminated Roma on the way to the quarter finals and have plenty of players who can pose a threat.
Fans predicting 4-0, 5-0 final scores were basing their predictions solely on last year’s away result. This was a good team that we kept in check for the most part and a 2-0 win is a great score heading to Portugal. Porto will surely be hopeful of using their home field but they will also know that it will be hard to stop a Liverpool team from scoring.
Henderson thriving in natural position
The captain is showing how much more effective he can be when playing in his natural position in midfield. He worked hard as always but was also a huge part of the attack. His perfect pass to TAA help setup the second goal and his excellent assist to Mane was cancelled due to a very slight offsides. With Fabinho getting more and more comfortable and Keita starting to show why he was so highly rated, this gives Klopp a great problem to have, options at midfield. With Gini, Milner, Lallana, and soon Ox in the mix, it will be up to Klopp to find the perfect combination based on the opponent we are playing against.
Robertson was missed
Milner is the ultimate professional. In a moment of need due to now official lack of trust in Moreno, Milner performed well defensively. The lack of speed was an issue at times but Milner can compensate for that with his experience and knowing his own weaknesses. Of course playing within his limits also limited our left wing especially when attacking. With most of our opponents playing tight and leaving the wider areas unmarked, TAA and Robertson are huge parts of our offense. Not having Robertson use the left wing enabled Porto to focus more on Salah’s side. Robertson not playing also affected Mane’s ability to have space and we missed quality in crosses coming from the left.
Meanwhile, Moreno not even making the bench this game says it all. Klopp will never talk negatively about a player but the lack of trust is clear. At this point, Moreno might as well pack up his game cleats as he will not be using them for LFC. If we knew this in January, and I suspect we did, we should have sold him even if it is for a penny. He will surely be not returning next year and anything for him would be better than him sitting on the bench rest of the season (or not even the bench today). Moreno will do well in the right system or the league but he was never going to be able to succeed at Liverpool with his defensive weaknesses.
The curious case of Shaqiri
After looking like the best value signing of the year early on, Shaqiri is missing in action. He has not featured in months. Aside from a mysterious injury that kept him out of the national team, not a lot is said by anyone in the club as to why he is not getting any minutes. It is odd that he has been healthy enough to be on the bench, but never been able to go in to get some playing time.
Part of the reason is, we have not had comfortable leads in games where we can give some minutes to the bench. We are on a long streak of nail biters with the game not in hand until the very final whistle. Even if we take this into consideration, Shaqiri was the key player to come off the bench to turn the tide early in the season. Divock Origi has now taken over that role coming in late in games where we need a goal. He was about to enter the game against Southampton but was later told to sit back down after Salah’s goal. To Divock’s credit, he has deserved the minutes with his performances and the effort he shows on the field. He is very direct and does the work on the wing defensively as well. Is Origi simply outworking Shaqiri during practices or is there a different reason that we do not know about behind the scenes?
Aside from a surprise by Klopp, I do not see him playing against Chelsea this weekend. I think his only hope is an early away goal and lead in Portugal to be able to get back on the field and earn back the trust of the coaching staff.
MOTM: Firmino… A goal and an assist as well as his usual tireless running.