Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp taking nothing for granted against Porto

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Jurgen Klopp has promised his Liverpool players will not underestimate Porto in Wednesday night’s second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Liverpool are firm favourites to advance to a semi-final against Barcelona as they go into the match with a 2-0 lead from last week’s meeting at Anfield, and having triumphed 5-0 at the same stadium in the same competition last February.

The feel-good factor is as strong as ever around Liverpool as they continue their pursuit of a league and Champions League double.

But after hearing opposite number Sergio Conceicao say they at times play as “the best team in the world”, Klopp told his players it is far too soon to be patting themselves on the back yet.

“We’re not here to celebrate our situation,” he said. “We are here to go to the next round.

“The season is not finished in this competition. We have to fight really hard.

“Porto have won all their home games (in the Champions League) so far, we know they are really dominating in the home games.”

Fourteen months ago Sadio Mane’s hat-trick helped Liverpool to a rout in the first leg of their last-16 clash against Porto, but Klopp dismissed the importance of what he called a “strange” match when it came to planning for Wednesday night.

“I didn’t like the last game because it was really strange,” he said. “Until we were 2-0 up it was a really open game. We don’t remember things like this, we only face the result, 5-0.

“But my players are not silly, they do not underestimate things like this. Porto are a good team.

“We were really good in the first leg and we will have to be really good tomorrow again. We will have to play at our limit, 100 per cent, and not try to (just) come through somehow because then you cannot stand the power they can create here.

“I was here for the derby, Porto v Sporting a few years ago. We think we only have derbies in Germany or in England but then you come to Portugal and they are loud here. They know how to influence a game and influence an opponent and we have to be ready.”

Dejan Lovren has not travelled with the Liverpool squad but Klopp confirmed Joe Gomez will be fit to feature from the bench, having not played for the first team since suffering a leg fracture in December.

“His fitness levels are getting better and better,” he said. “If he can start and play 90 minutes in the Champions League I don’t know, but can he come on when he is needed? Yes. That will be possible and that’s the most important thing.

“Having a player with the quality of Joe, remember the season he played before he got injured – that was incredible, so we’re really happy he’s back.”

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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European Teams of the Week: Lille top with Liverpool in sixth after Chelsea win

Matt Jones 16/04/2019
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Lille players celebrate a memorable win over PSG.

The only thing in football more contentious than a dubious refereeing decision is a rankings system.

There are plenty of them out there – though many are deliberately divisive – but given the tribal nature of football they do drum up some interesting debates among supporters.

We’re going to add our twist to the list. Each week we pick out the 10 best teams from Europe’s top-five leagues (minus cup competitions).

It’s not cumulative, the rankings is based on a team’s performance in that particular game week.

So, who makes the top-10 this week? Check out below.

1 LILLE (beat PSG 5-1)

Ligue 1 has been pulverised by Paris-Saint Germain in recent seasons – they have lifted five of the last six championships and are about to make it six from seven. But Thomas Tuchel’s side missed out doing so early for the second weekend in a row as they were torn apart by second-placed Lille.

Thomas Meunier’s own goal put Lille ahead but Juan Bernat levelled – before getting himself sent off for tugging at Nicolas Pepe, who then put the hosts in front. Lille then ran riot with Jonathan Bamba smashing in and Gabriel and Jose Fonte headers completing a five-star thrashing.

2 SPAL (beat Juventus 2-1)

In at No2 is another team determined to delay a title parade in Serie A –  party poopers SPAL. Moise Kean seemingly got the Juventus celebrations started early – they need only a point to confirm an eighth successive Scudetto – with his sixth goal in as many games in Ferrara after half an hour.

But Kevin Bonifazi headed the hosts level just after half-time, before 37-year-old Sergio Floccari’s calm finish won it for the Biancazzurri (the White and Blues), easing their relegation worries in the process.

3 BOURNEMOUTH (beat Brighton 5-0)

David Brooks celebrates his goal for Bournemouth.

David Brooks celebrates his goal for Bournemouth.

After a stunning first half of the season, it’s been a miserable 2019 for Bournemouth. But they dished out a severe beating to Brighton on the south coast as they cruised to victory.

Dan Gosling finished off an exquisite team move to put the visitors ahead before Ryan Fraser made it 2-0 with a fine finish. Brighton were then blitzed following Anthony Knockaert’s kamikaze red card, with David Brooks, Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas scoring late to make it a rout – with the cherry on top of this victory seeing the Cherries all but securing Premier League survival.

4 AUGSBURG (beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1)

Germany U21 international Marco Richter scored his first goals for Augsburg and played a huge part in the third as they struck a huge blow in attempting to avoid relegation with a 3-1 win in Frankfurt.

Two fine finishes with either foot put Martin Schmidt’s side 2-1 ahead after Goncalo Paciencia headed Champions League-chasing Eintracht in front.

But fine foraging from Richter led to Michael Gregoritsch’s game-clinching goal that saw them leap above Schalke and move seven points above the relegation play-off spot.

5 NANTES (beat Lyon 2-1)

Nantes leapfrogged relegation rivals Monaco and Amiens to hand Lyon a second straight defeat in France. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Bruno Genesio’s side – the manager announcing he will leave the club at the end of the season.

Mali attacker Kalifa Coulibaly coolly stroked them ahead before Martin Terrier’s terrific finish levelled the scores in the scores before the break.

Anthony Limbombe’s lovely free-kick fittingly sealed victory seven minutes before the end as Nantes climbed to 15th while Lyon now have Saint Etienne breathing down their neck for the third and final Champions League spot.

6 LIVERPOOL (beat Chelsea 2-0)

Mohamed Salah starred with a wonder-goal to give Liverpool the win.

Mohamed Salah starred with a wonder-goal to give Liverpool the win.

Pressure? What pressure? With the build-up to this crucial game dominated by Steven Gerrard’s slip and Jose Mourinho’s Anfield masterclass in this fixture five years previously, Jurgen Klopp’s hosts roared back to the top of the table and are now arguably favourites to win a first Premier League title.

Sadio Mane nodded in the opener before a Mohamed Salah special made it 2-0 as the Reds roared to victory and gave the Kop belief a 20-year top-flight title wait could finally be coming to an end.

7 SOUTHAMPTON (beat Wolves 3-1)

Saints’ heavenly revival under Ralph Hassenhuttl continued with a fine home win over snarling Wolves. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side may be flying high in eighth but their patchy away from – they have won just five of 16 games on the road all season – continued at St Mary’s.

Resurgent Nathan Redmond’s brace sandwiched Willy Boly’s equaliser and Shane Long sealed the three points – the eighth time in 18 games since the German took charge that Southampton have tasted victory. Their now eight points above the relegation zone.

8 BAYERN MUNICH (beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 4-1)

The champions stepped up their bid for a seventh straight Bundesliga crown, following up their 5-0 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund with a 4-1 demolition of Dusseldorf.

There was nothing fortunate about the result over Fortuna, Kingsley Coman – who had been involved in a punch-up with team-mate Robert Lewandowski in training during the week – netting a brace to put the Bavarians in control during the first half, with Serge Gnabry making it 3-0 after the break.

Dodi Lukebakio pulled one back with a late penalty but Leon Goretzka’s stoppage-time strike sealed an emphatic victory on the weekend Dortmund laboured to a 2-1 win at home against Mainz.

9 FULHAM (beat Everton 2-0)

A little late in the day but finally a win for relegated Fulham at home against in-form Everton. The Cottagers have been turfed out of their Premier League home and will return to the Championship next term but at least they’re going down with a fight – halting a wretched nine-game losing streak.

Tom Cairney and Ryan Babbel strikes in the second half earned caretaker boss Scott Parker a maiden win and Fulham just a fifth all season, as Everton’s three-match winning run came to an end.

10 HUESCA (drew 0-0 with Barcelona)

Say what you will about this result coming against Barcelona’s reserves as Ernesto Valverde prioritised the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester United – this is still a heck of a result for Huesca.

Rock-bottom of the table, they gave themselves a glimmer of hope in their battle to stay up – the point leaving them seven points adrift of safety. This was still a Barca team containing Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Arturo Vidal and the returning Ousmane Dembele.

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European Teams of the Week: Brilliant Bayern Munich top as excellent Everton make top 10

Matt Jones 8/04/2019
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The only thing in football more contentious than a dubious refereeing decision is a rankings system.

There are plenty of them out there – though many are deliberately divisive – but given the tribal nature of football they do drum up some interesting debates among supporters.

We’re going to add our twist to the list. Each week we pick out the 10 best teams from Europe’s top-five leagues (minus cup competitions).

It’s not cumulative, the rankings is based on a team’s performance in that particular game week.

So, who makes the top-10 this week? Find out below:

1 BAYERN MUNICH (beat Borussia Dortmund 5-0)

Fully deserving of top spot this week. With a crippling show of force, the Bavaria behemoths showed that they are well and truly still the force of German football with a brutish beating handed out to Dortmund.

Ahead of ‘Der Klassiker’ we were expecting a tight, tense and entertaining affair with two points separating first and second in the Bundesliga. But what it turned into was a classic example of Bayern still being the bullies of the Bundesliga. They were 4-0 up at the break and leapfrogged BVB into top spot, while Robert Lewandowski became just the fifth player in history to score 200 Bundesliga goals.

2 BARCELONA (beat Atletico Madrid 2-0)

Luis Suarez celebrates his fine winner against Atletico.

Luis Suarez celebrates his fine winner against Atletico.

The title race also delivered a twist in Spain too, but only in the sense that Barcelona look to have wrapped up an eighth La Liga crown in 11 seasons following a telling triumph over Diego Simeone’s second-placed side.

Los Rojiblancos had threatened to take a point with a typically tenacious and dogged defensive display – especially after losing tyro Diego Costa to a 28th-minute red card.

But Barca huffed and puffed and eventually blew the door down – Luis Suarez curing in a classy winner eight minutes from time, while Lionel Messi added an even later second to put one hand on the trophy. The Blaugrana are 11 points ahead with seven games remaining.

3 EVERTON (beat Arsenal 1-0)

It’s three wins in a row for Everton with the Toffees having come through a sticky spell in style with triumphs over Chelsea and now Arsenal.

Marco Silva finally seems to be moulding the Merseysiders into shape, with the likes of high-profile summer signings Richarlison, Andre Gomes and Bernard all shining.

But it was old warhorse Phil Jagielka who fired them to victory over the toothless visitors, although the hosts dominated proceedings and should have won by more – they had 27 shots on goal compared to the goal-shy Gunners’ seven.

4 RB LEIPZIG (beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-2)

Timo Werner made it 2-2.

Timo Werner made it 2-2.

Leipzig took another leap towards a Champions League return with a superb 4-2 win against Leverkusen – twice cancelling out Kai Havertz goals, one a penalty, the second a stunning volley, to earn a splendid win.

Ralf Rangnick’s side are one of the form teams in the Bundesliga – unbeaten in 10 games – and they scored some delicious goals to extinguish the Leverkusen threat. Marcel Sabitzer and Timo Werner’s equalisers were eye-catching but Matheus Cunha’s pirouette and chip to seal the three points was breathtaking.

5 CELTA VIGO (beat Real Sociedad 3-1)

Celta’s battle against the drop in Spain received a massive boost at the Balaidos with talismanic skipper Iago Aspas leading them to a come-from-behind victory against Real Sociedad.

Vigo fell behind to Willian Jose’s penalty but Aspas’ brace put his side 2-1 ahead and Maxi Gomez sealed the win. That makes it three games unbeaten since the influential captain returned, with Aspas scoring five goals in those three games since returning from six weeks out with a recurring calf problem. The Sky Blues have now risen to 16th in La Liga.

6 MAINZ (beat Freiburg 5-0)

An amazing result for free-scoring Freiburg – not least because the mammoth win was achieved via all five of their shots on target resulting in goals. They also triumphed with just 29 per cent possession.

It was a counter-attacking masterclass from Sandro Schwarz’s side who leapt above Freiburg with victory at the Opal Arena.

Young French striker Jean-Philippe Mateta, 21, was the main man for Mainz with a hat-trick – two composed left-foot finishes and a diving header bringing to an end a run of four straight defeats in style.

7 JUVENTUS (beat AC Milan 2-1)

Moise Kean came to Juventus' rescue yet again.

Moise Kean came to Juventus’ rescue yet again.

The Old Lady are one step closer to an eighth successive Scudetto after coming from behind to beat old foes Milan.

Having gone behind to Krzysztof Piatek’s 21st league goal of the season, the Cristiano Ronaldo-less Bianconeri got back in it through Paolo Dybala’s penalty on the hour.

Teenage sensation Moise Kean clambered off the bench to yet again net a winner – firing clinically beyond Pepe Reina for his fifth Serie A goal in his last five games.

Napoli’s 1-1 draw with Genoa on Sunday means just a point is required at relegation-threatened SPAL on Saturday to lift yet another league crown.

8 FROSINONE (beat Fiorentina 1-0)

Staying with Italy, and the most impressive performance at the weekend might well have been Frosinone’s slender 1-0 victory over Fiorentina.

The second-bottom Canaries are flying dangerously close to a return to Serie B but moved to within five points of safety thanks to a priceless win delivered courtesy of veteran substitute Daniel Ciofani’s excellent low finish.

It means Marco Baroni’s men have taken four points off La Viola and won back-to-back games for the first time this season. And they will need all that momentum to survive as they face top six sides Milan, Inter and Napoli in their run-in.

9 DIJON (beat Lyon 3-1)

To another battle to get out of the basement and Dijon, who registered a much-needed victory in their Ligue 1 survival scrap, as well as mounting the pressure on Lyon boss Bruno Genesio with a superb 3-1 victory.

It was a first win in over two months and just their second of 2019, and all the more impressive considering Martin Terrier gave Lyon the lead inside the first minute.

Wesley Said’s brace saw Dijon 2-1 up after seven minutes though and Rafael’s late own goal sealed a first win in 10 games for Antoine Kombouare’s side that moved them above Caen into 18th and the precious relegation play-off spot.

10 BURNLEY (beat Bournemouth 3-1)

It’s been a troubling season for Burnley but they stitched together back-to-back victories following four straight defeats to do their Premier League survival hopes the world of good following a 3-1 win at Bournemouth.

Sean Dyche’s side got off to the worst possible start at the Vitality Stadium following Ashley Barnes’ fourth-minute own goal. But Barnes scored at the right end in the second half to make it 3-1 to the Clarets who moved into 14th and eight points clear of the drop zone.

They’re now full of vitality after this win.

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