Long-awaited return to Champions League knockout stage for Liverpool

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Picture: Peter Powell/EPA
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Picture: Peter Powell/EPA

When Liverpool take to the Estádio do Dragão on Wednesday night against Porto, it will mark the first time the Reds will take part in the UEFA Champions League’s knockout stage since 2009.

The last time Liverpool managed to reach the quarterfinals of this competition, they were knocked out 7-5 on aggregate in an all-Premier League affair by a Didier Drogba inspired Chelsea.

This time Jürgen Klopp’s side faces Portuguese outfit Porto who are yet to repeat their Jose Mourinho-inspired triumph of 2004 and lift the European Cup for a third time in their history,

The Reds, who have been firing on all cylinders thanks to their fantastic strike force trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, sit third in the English Premier League and will be wary of the threat posed by the Portuguese outfit who are currently on top of their league.

Porto will have to rely on the experience of their Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Uruguayan right-back Maxi Pereira, who will surely be tormented by Salah, who has so far scored 29 goals and provided nine assists.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Klopp said: “Now we have to show that we are not only part of the competition, we are quite ambitious. That is how it is and we have to take it seriously.”

Concurrently, 12-time kings of Europe, Real Madrid, will take on French side PSG at the Santiago Bernabéu.

The former have struggled for form this season leading to Zinedine Zidane’s side finding themselves sitting in an unfamiliar fourth place in the La Liga standings.

The home side will have to be on top of their game if they are to stop the rampant PSG, who boast the likes of Brazilian Neymar and Kylian Mbappé.

The opening round of the last-16 action on Tuesday night saw Tottenham Hotspur come from behind to secure a 2-2 draw with Italian giants Juventus. And a rampant Manchester City replicated their unstoppable Premier League form as they demolished FC Basel 4-0.

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