Liverpool saw off Porto 2-0 in a game that ended up not being quite as emphatic as it might have been, or that Liverpool fans would have hoped it would be. Nevertheless, with Porto giving the Reds a few scares, and a clean sheet kept, Liverpool have put themselves in prime position to qualify for the semi-finals on a comfortable European night at Anfield. So what were the key stats from the game?
Midfield (And Bobby) Have A Stormer
This was a bit of a chaotic, open game, and taking a quick glance at the midfield and Bobby Firmino will show that. Fabinho as the lone DM made 3/5 tackles, with three interceptions, 12 ball recoveries, 2/3 dribbles and made a key pass.
Ahead of him, the terrific Jordan Henderson was 2/4 for tackles, with two interceptions, and created three chances, including one big chance. He also played a gorgeous pass for the hockey assist for Bobby’s goal and had an assist chalked narrowly off for offside. And then there’s Naby Keita, who was absolutely insane, clocking 8/11 tackles, 10 ball recoveries, two interceptions, as well as 3/6 dribbles, two key passes, two shots, including of course his goal.
As for Bobby Firmino, he contributed a goal and assist in fabulous style, scoring one of his two big chances, credited with an assist for his only key pass, and also chipping in with 2/3 dribbles and, impressively, 4/4 tackles.
For a team with 64% possession, to attempt 35 tackles and succeed in 24, compared to 42 and 28 for Porto respectively, is absolutely mad. Even Big Virgil had a busy night, with 3/3 tackles and 10 ball recoveries. It absolutely fits the eye test that Klopp sent his players out to be open, energetic, try and create loads of chances, but also that they were susceptible to plenty of turnovers, which is why the importance of the midfield three was huge. They had to shoulder the creative burden whilst keeping the integrity of the team together, and although they were dribbled past seven times collectively, they were still very, very impressive, with either Keita or Henderson (or sometimes both) heavily involved in every good attacking move Liverpool made.
Teams must be absolutely dreading a trip to Anfield at the moment. Even the mighty Barcelona will have been watching this game with a sense of foreboding, as it was pointed out during the game that this would be Liverpool’s 21st straight European game at Anfield without defeat – winning 15 and drawing six of those games. The last team to win at Anfield was Real Madrid, back in the 14-15 season under Brendan Rodgers. Klopp’s Anfield record is now 18 games, 14 wins, four draws. In knockout games, his Anfield record is eight wins, two draws – the draws coming of course against Bayern in the last round and in the second leg dead rubber against Porto last year, both 0-0.
In fact, Liverpool have kept clean sheets in a staggering seven of those ten knockout ties, conceding to Dortmund, Hoffenheim and Roma – all games in which Liverpool scored at least four goals in response.
The big question, of course, is whether Liverpool have done enough to get through to the semi-finals of the Champions League, and on that front, I feel that they can be pretty confident. Obviously, they still have to take the second leg seriously and play a proper game of football, but I have every confidence that with the tie only at 2-0, Klopp won’t take any chances in Porto.
In terms of history, here are some stats to back the Reds’ situation – not only have Liverpool never lost from a 2-0 home leg position, but Porto have never overcome a 2-0 deficit either. None of that means that it won’t happen this time, but Andrew Beasley helpfully put up a sample of 2-0 home wins from the last 15 UCL seasons in quarter-finals, and it makes good reading for LFC fans. One team did blow that 2-0 lead, but it was Wolfsburg at the Bernabeu a couple of years ago, where there was a clear gulf in class that doesn’t exist between Porto and Liverpool.