Liverpool have history on their side ahead of Porto Champions League clash

Alex Broun 13/02/2018
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Kenny Dalglish finds the back of the net during the 1977/78 campaign.

Omens are good for Liverpool as they face Porto in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 encounter at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday night.

Liverpool have played Portuguese opponents ten times in European competition, starting way back with Vitoria Setubal in the 1969/70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and going right up to S C Braga in the 2010/11 Europa League.

In the eight times the Reds have played Portuguese teams in the knockout stage Liverpool have gone through five times.

Their most regular opponent is Benfica who the Merseysiders have met five times in the knockout stages, going through on all but one occasion.

As for their opponent on Wednesday night, Porto, they have faced the Blue and Whites in two separate European competitions with the Reds coming out on top on both occasions – the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup in 2000/01 and the Group Stages of the Champions League in 2007/08.

Indeed, in four matches against Porto in Europe – Liverpool have never lost.

And in another good omen – of the eight times Liverpool have won European tournaments (European Cup/Champions League and UEFA Cup/Europa League) they have beaten Portuguese opponents in the knockout stages en-route in three instances.

Here’s the full rundown of Liverpool’s record re Portuguese opponents in European competition:

v Vitoria Setubal, Round of 16, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, 1969-70

This competition ran from 1955 to 1971 with, as the name suggests, the aim being to promote international trade fairs.

Liverpool traveled to Setubal for the first leg on November 12th, 1969, losing 1-0.

In the second leg at Anfield, Setubal raced out to a 2-0 lead (3-0 on aggregate) after 56 minutes but the Reds came roaring back with goals from Tommy Smith, Roy Evans and Roger Hunt.

However, it wasn’t enough with Vitoria going through to the last eight on away goals.

v Benfica, Quarter-Finals, European Cup, 1977/78

A comfortable win for Liverpool on the way to their second consecutive European crown.

The Reds won the first leg in Lisbon 2-1 through goals from Jimmy Case and Emlyn Hughes and then ran riot 4-1 in the return leg with Ian Callaghan, Kenny Dalglish, Terry McDermott and Phil Neal all finding the back of the net.

The Reds went on to beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 4-2 on aggregate in the semi-final before defeating Club Brugge 1-0 in the final at Wembley, with Dalglish scoring the winner.

v Benfica, Quarter-Finals, European Cup, 1983/84

Another quarter-final against Benfica and another comfortable victory on the way to Liverpool’s fourth European crown in just eight seasons.

Liverpool won the first leg narrowly at Anfield after a 67th minute goal by Ian Rush and there might have been a few nerves heading to Lisbon for the return leg.

But, they eased to a 4-1 success at the Estadio da Luz thanks to a brace from Ronnie Whelan, one from Craig Johnston and another Rush effort.

Playing Portuguese opponents in the quarters was another good omen for the Reds as they breezed past Dinamo Bucuresti in the semi-finals before edging past Roma on penalties in Rome in the decider.

v Benfica, Round of 16, European Cup, 1984/85

By this time Benfica were getting sick and tired of playing Liverpool in the European Cup.

Again the two sides clashed, this time in the Round of 16, and again Liverpool progressed.

Rush scored a hat-trick in the first leg as the Reds won 3-1 and although they lost the return leg 1-0 it was still enough for the Reds to reach the quarter-finals for the fifth year in a row.

This time the Reds were not able to go on and win the Cup, losing 1-0 to Juventus in the final in Brussels.

v Porto, Quarter-Final, UEFA Cup, 2000/01

The first time Liverpool and Porto met in European competition and another good omen for the Reds as they again went on to win the tournament.

The first leg in Lisbon ended 0-0 but goals from Danny Murphy and Michael Owen in the return saw Liverpool through.

The Reds then edged Barcelona in the semi-final before winning a thrilling final 5-4 after extra time against Alaves in Dortmund.

Michael Owen scored against Boavista in 2001

Michael Owen scored against Boavista in 2001.

v Boavista, Group Stages, Champions League, 2001/02

The Reds recorded a pair of 1-1 draws against The Chequered Ones in Group B with Owen scoring at Anfield and Murphy at the Estadio de Bessa in Porto.

Unfortunately, this time, it was not a good omen as Liverpool went out in the last eight to Bayer Leverkusen.

v Benfica, Quarter-Final, Champions League, 2005/06

Benfica’s revenge. After three previous failed attempts finally Lisbon’s finest made it past Liverpool in the knockout stages.

After losing the away leg of the quarter final 1-0 hopes were high for another Anfield revival but this time it was not to be with Benfica winning the second leg 2-0 thanks to goals to Simao Sabrosa and Fabrizio Miccoli.

And Liverpool’s hopes of back-to-back Champions League titles were at an end.

v Porto, Group Stage, Champions League, 2007/08

The second time Liverpool met Porto in Europe and again the Reds came out on top.

The Reds earned a 1-1 draw in Porto on Match Day 1 with Dirk Kuyt the scorer.

Needing a win in the return leg Liverpool ran riot with a double to Fernando Torres and one each to Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard getting them home 4-1.

It was another good omen as the Reds went all the way to the semi-finals before losing in extra-time to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

v Benfica, Quarter-Final, Europa League, 2009/10

The fifth time Liverpool have met this particular Portuguese opponent in Europe, and the fourth victory for the Reds.

Benfica edged the first leg at home 2-1 with Daniel Agger scoring for the Reds but once again Liverpool ran riot at home in the second leg with a double from Torres, a single to Kuyt and a rare strike to Lucas Leiva seeing the Reds triumph 4-1 (5-2 overall).

It didn’t help the Reds this year however as they went out in the semis to Atletico Madrid on away goals.

Andy Carroll heads the ball against Braga.

Andy Carroll heads the ball against Braga.

v Braga, Round of 16, Europa League, 2010/11

The most recent time Liverpool have met Portuguese opponents in Europe and worryingly for the Reds, another loss.

Braga won the first leg at home 1-0 thanks to an 18th minute penalty from Alan and this time there wasn’t to be any Anfield heroics with the second leg ending 0-0.

Braga went on to reach the final after triumphing on away goals in both the quarter-final and semi-final but then lost the final 1-0 to Porto in an all Portuguese decider.

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Real Madrid's European home record ominous but PSG have never lost a Champions League first leg last 16 tie

Matt Jones 13/02/2018
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Real Madrid host Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday in the glamour tie of the Champions League knockout stages.

Los Blancos may not be finding the imperious form they’ve enjoyed on the continent in recent seasons as they have struggled to cope with the Barcelona juggernaut – currently Zinedine Zidane’s side sit 17 points adrift of the La Liga pace-setting Blaugrana in fourth place.

In Europe though, it’s been a different story. They have won three of the last four tournaments, and they have embarked on a timely run of form leading up to this clash too, winning three of their last four league games, with Cristiano Ronaldo back among the goals.

Meanwhile, the Parisians are in pristine form coming into the first leg. Since a 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the final group game on December 5, PSG have won 14 of their last 15 games in all competitions.

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Here, we look at the key statistics and match facts ahead of Wednesday’s clash including Real’s resurgence in the last competition in the last decade.

  • The Spanish side have got to the semi-finals or better in each of the last seven seasons: winning three of the last four finals. They lost to Juve in the 2014/15, Borussia Dortmund in 2012/13, Bayern Munich in 2011/12 and Barcelona in 2010/11, exiting each time at the last four stage.
  • PSG knocked Real Madrid out of Europe two years in a row: in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup quarter-finals and 1993/94 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals. George Weah’s goal as PSG won the 93/94 first leg 1-0 against Vicente del Bosque’s Madrid is the Spanish side’s sole home defeat against a French club.
  • Real are looking to reach the quarter-finals for the eighth successive year. Their round of 16 record is W8 L6. Their streak is in stark contrast to the years prior to this as they lost at this stage for six years in a row between 2005 and 2010.
  • Madrid have won 33 of their last 39 Champions League home matches, losing just once – 4-3 to Schalke in the 2014/15 last 16 second leg. They have lost just two of their last 25 European fixtures, most recently the 3-1 defeat at Spurs on matchday four, winning 17 and drawing six.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo scored nine goals in the group stage – three more than any other player. It was a record-breaking haul for the Portuguese as he became the first player in Champions League history to score in every group game. He also had 21 shots on target and 18 shots off target, also competition highs.
  • The 2015/16 group stage games against PSG were Real’s last matches against French opposition. They are unbeaten in their last nine such encounters (W6 D3), going back to a 1-0 loss at Lyon in the 2009/10 round of 16 first leg (1-2 aggregate). In those wins they scored 15 goals without reply.
  • Champions of Europe for a 12th time in 2016/17, Madrid aim to become the first team since Bayern Munich in 1976 to claim three successive European Cups (1973-76). Ajax (1971–73) and Madrid themselves (1956–60) are the only other sides to have won three or more in a row.
  • PSG have never lost the first leg of a round of 16 tie (W4 D1). Although beaten 3-1 by Munich on matchday six to prevent them winning all six of their Group B games, they nevertheless finished the group stages with 25 goals, setting a new Champions League record.

Statistics provided by UEFA

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Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini says he always knew Harry Kane would be a star

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Chielleni will face up to Harry Kane once again in the Champions League.

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini insists his thundering challenge welcoming Harry Kane to international football in 2015 was not deliberate but admits he knew even then he was up against a future star.

Kane was only two minutes into his full England debut during a friendly with Italy three years ago, when Chiellini made his introduction by crashing into his opposite number.

The pair will resume rivalries again at the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday as Spurs take on two-time European champions Juventus in the Champions League last 16.

Since that first meeting, Chiellini has established himself as one of the most dependable centre-halves in Europe while there is not one out-and-out striker more feared right now than Kane.

Chiellini claims there was nothing planned about his shuddering first impression on the then 24-year-old.

“I don’t actually remember it very well but in Turin he was certainly a great striker. I didn’t make that tackle on purpose!” Chiellini said with a smile.

“But in my opinion he was already then one of the best strikers. People had already talked about him a lot.

“This type of challenge for us as defenders give us an impetus to play football. These are the matches that we will keep in mind in the future.

“I know I judged him properly before because I considered him a great striker then and he has become a great international striker.”

Chiellini is at the heart of a four-man Juventus back-line that boasts the astonishing record of just one goal conceded in 16 matches.

But it is Kane, with eight goals in his last seven games and 36 in 37 overall this season, that was the talk of the Italian club’s pre-match press conference on Monday.

“Stopping one-on-one against Kane, just me alone, is pretty impossible,” Chiellini said.

The Italian insists that the tackle two years ago was not deliberate.

The Italian insists that the tackle two years ago was not deliberate.

Kane remembered well his match-up with Chiellini for England. He admitted getting past the 33-year-old and, more importantly, Gianluigi Buffon in goal promises to be one of the toughest tests of his career.

“He’s an amazing defender,” Kane said. “On my first start for England, in the first five minutes he made a challenge and I had a dead leg for about five minutes.

“It was a good welcome to international football. We know how good their defence is as a whole and obviously their goalkeeper as well.”

Toby Alderweireld will miss the match, having only recently recovered from a hamstring tear.

Alderweireld played 90 minutes against Newport in the FA Cup last week and declared after the match he felt “very good” but was not included in the squad against Arsenal on Saturday and did not join Monday’s travelling party to Italy either.

“He is 28 and it was a massive injury that we need to take care and be cautious with because we cannot put his career at risk,” Mauricio Pochettino said.

“To play this type of game you need to be 200 per cent. Competing is not the same as training and that’s why we are caring about him with our plan.”

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