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Football News: Liverpool FC 0-0 FC Porto - Champions League Review

Liverpool FC 0-0 FC Porto - Champions League Review
Image from: slate.com

Well that was perhaps the biggest anti-climax ever! I'm bitterly disappointed in Porto for their lacklustre and defeatist performance. They have genuinely just turned up at Anfield and played for damage limitation, in a knock out competition. It made for such a boring affair, that my mate and I, racked up the pool table whilst the game was still going!

What i will say is, how good were the Porto away fans? They were louder than the Liverpool fans at Anfield all night, and cheered until the final whistle. It really was a joy to see a set of supporters cheering their team at 5-0 down.

If Klopp was trying to win on the night, he got it badly wrong. I'm not sure he was all that bothered though, despite the positive soundbites about "mentality" and "the world is watching" that he fed the press all week. That Liverpool team went out to keep possession and not get injured, plain and simple. It's hard to judge the players because of that as they were clearly under instruction to play a subdued game. Let's just hope the world wasn't watching!

Karius:
Another very good game from Karius. Made one save it particular from a shot creeping in the bottom corner that was excellent. Also came out a claimed anything that was loose whether it was in the air or on the ground. One minor scare when he collected a pass in behind and then dropped it temporarily, but he did look like he was clattered by the striker. Easy night overall but kept his concentration and dealt with everything when he had to.

Gomez:
Poor game from Gomez. Porto's best chances came down his side including a reverse shot from a player cutting inside off of Gomez's side of the pitch, that narrowly went wide of the near post. He was getting caught under the ball again, made a few silly fouls, and his passing was well off. He even took a few careless risks. Not his best night but he battled through and did a job still. It was an important step in his recovery and his general development, but i think Alexander-Arnold will be back against Manchester United.

Matip:
His passing was very poor. He just kept hammering it into a packed midfield. He should've been intelligent enough to see that Porto swamped the midfield and gone wide to Gomez more often. Just about did everything demanded of him defensively though so i can't criticise too much. He was still a part of a comfortable clean sheet. Not a patch on Virgil though!

Lovren:
Very good game from Lovren. Won most of his challenges, covered others very well, and didn't ever look in trouble. Unlike Matip, he did have the sense to pass into wider areas instead of the congested midfield, and Moreno had a lot of chances to attack down the left wing as a result of this. Unlucky not to score a looping header as well.

Moreno:
As was just touched on, Moreno really got at the Porto back line. He attacked with intent and made good decisions in the final third that led to some good chances. Defended very well, and got across to cover his centre backs when the opposition threatened to get in behind. So frustrating that he can't do this every week. Robertson will come back in at the weekend.

Can:
Weird game from Can. He kept getting into good positions in between the Porto midfield and defence, but then instead of turning and driving at the back line, he took too many touches and waited for an opposition player to challenge him so he could show off his strength. On numerous occasions he had to wriggle out of self inflicted trouble with his impressive footwork, so he could pass it back where it came from. He made no attempt to hurt Porto but it may have been tactical to simply keep possession. That didn't stop Milner and Henderson from creating chances though.

Milner:
Seemed to be alternating with Henderson in some stages of the game and did play a few nice diagonal passes. He put himself about, put in some great crosses, but unfortunately he was the man to miss one of the more golden chances of the game on the end of a cut back from the left. Unmarked from 12 yards, he has to hit the target at least. Very unlucky not to end the game with at least one assist though. I lost count of how many chances he created. For me, his recent form has earned him the right to start in midfield with Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain against Manchester United.

Henderson:
Industrious as always, and his passing was quick and incisive unlike most of his team mates, but he found himself in a lot of good positions to cross and only executed a couple of them with any quality. Phenomenal through ball to put Firmino in behind from deep though. That was the pass of the game by far. Covered the defence well when he had too, but Porto didn't really get at him at all. My only criticism is that he didn't really drive the team on or demand better from certain players who weren't performing.

Lallana:
The worst Liverpool player on the pitch. He was back to his old self taking touch after touch. He did create one good chance, but he was the reason behind nearly every attack breaking down. Whilst Mane and Firmino were looking for quick one touch moves and trying to get at Porto early, Lallana was trying to turn the same player 3 times before releasing the ball. At one stage he changed direction so many times before crossing the ball that none of Liverpool's players even attacked it because they just didn't have a clue when he'd finally release it. Obviously, Salah will be back on Saturday.

Firmino:
Service was poor aside from the one pass from Henderson, and he should really have done better with it. He needed to drive across the front of the defender as that would either force the defender to slow down to avoid collision, or draw a tangle of legs as the defender crossed his path and probably resulted in a red card. He let himself get forced wide though and then elected to drill a low shot against a defender who had been on the ground for an age, when one of his trademark chip shots was clearly the better option. Not really anything else to analyse. He has a brilliant partnership with Salah, and he missed him last night.

Mane:
The only player in the front 3 to have an impact, Mane was desperately unlucky not to end the night with a couple of goals. His thunderous chest and volley combination off of a Milner pass was agonisingly close, and his stretched finish that narrowly went over the bar was about the best he could do with a slightly wayward cross. He beat his man every time he got the chance, only to find that he was completely alone and therefore had to turn around and beat the same guy again just to keep possession. He was the only starting Liverpool player who looked like he really wanted to win and on another night, he probably would've got the winner.

Ings:
Came on for Firmino around the hour mark and offered something different. In fact, the runs he made and the presence he has in the air was probably what was needed with the midfield 3 Klopp played, as they were all just lobbing crosses into the box from deep areas. Ings loves attacking crosses like that and he had two good headed chances; one off a Henderson cross that just hung in the air a bit too long for him to get any power on it, but his best effort was a powerful header that looked like it was going over the keepers head, only for Iker Casillas to roll back the years and pull a brilliant reflex save out the bag.

Salah:
Got in behind without even breaking into a jog on one occasion. He found the service as poor as Firmino found it though with only one half chance falling to him in a wide left position. The angle was too tight, and his shot across goal was easily gathered. He did play a very clever lifted pass onto Milner's head late on, but the header went straight at the keeper. I think he missed Firmino as much as Firmino missed him.

Klavan:
Must've come on whilst i was arranging the balls in the pool triangle because i didn't realise he was on the pitch until i noticed the formation change, and his only contribution of note was when he gave away a silly free kick at left back. Klopp switched to a back 3 in anticipation of a late onslaught, but they were completely untested and Klavan had virtually nothing to do other than keep possession in the defence for the last 10 minutes.

As much as a 0-0 draw at home is boring and frustrating, it is also a good isolated result in grand scheme of things, especially considering how disjointed the team selection was. The tie was excellently navigated overall. We won't know if this was a great result though until we see if it has affected the teams momentum going into the Manchester United game. If Klopp can flick a switch a raise the performance levels again by Saturday, then this will have been a near perfect night.

Ultimately, Klopp and the players got the job done without even getting into second gear. It was a stroll in the park, and maybe Klopp was expecting Porto to attack more (I know I was) and perhaps if they had, Liverpool might have cut them open on the break or at least found more space in their half of the pitch. As it was, Porto sat deep and made no effort to win the game, so Liverpool did the same and didn't risk leaving any gaps themselves.

Written by Adam Jones

Written by Adam Jones March 07 2018 15:42:27