Liverpool handed favourable Porto tie in Champions League last 16

Liverpool handed favourable Porto tie in Champions League last 16

Liverpool will take on FC Porto over two legs of the first Champions League knock-out round in February and March 2018, avoiding Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

Charlie Malam

Liverpool will face Porto in the last 16 of the Champions League after the draw was made in Nyon at the UEFA headquarters on Monday.

Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso helped conduct the draw and pulled out the Reds to face the Portuguese giants to avoid a clash with his other previous clubs Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

As a result of winning their group to be seeded, the Reds' first leg will be held away from home at the Estádio do Dragão on Wednesday February 14, after a trip to Southampton and before a potential FA Cup fifth round tie.

The return leg, at Anfield, will be contested on Tuesday March 6 - between Premier League clashes at home to Newcastle United and away to arch rivals Manchester United.

Porto came second in Group G, four points behind Besiktas - who they failed to beat over two matches - and lost at home to the Turkish outfit and away to RB Leipzig.

With this the first time five English clubs were in the first knockout round, Juventus will face Tottenham HotspurBasel host Manchester City, Group E runners-up Sevilla were paired with Manchester United and Chelsea were handed a tricky draw against Barcelona.

The other draws see Real Madrid take on Paris Saint-Germain in a heavyweight contest, with Shakhtar Donetsk going head-to-head with AS Roma. Bayern Munich will also play Besiktas. 


A welcome and winnable tie?

The Reds were seeded after finishing top of their group, winning three games and drawing three of their six group matches and sealing their qualification with a 7-0 thrashing Spartak Moscow last week. 

Yet among the sides Liverpool could have faced, even despite winning the group, were back-to-back reigning champions Real Madrid, Juventus - runners-up in two of the last three years - and Bayern, semi-finalists in three of the last four campaigns.

And so the fact Alonso drew out Porto will be quite the relief, given Liverpool have the attacking firepower to enjoy a real run in this tournament.

They were the highest-scoring English side in the history of the group stage as they plundered 23 goals, twice netting seven in one match, with Roberto Firmino helping himself to six as the joint-second top scorer.

While Porto's European pedigree cannot be discounted, having won the competition under José Mourinho 13 years ago in addition to an 1987 success, they are undoubtedly lesser opposition than the other teams Jürgen Klopp's men might have faced.

Liverpool will fancy themselves. Although Porto have conceded just five league goals this season, they leaked 10 goals in just six continental fixtures - though they did end their group stage campaign on a rousing 5-2 defeat of AS Monaco.

The fact that the second leg is at Anfield will be a huge boost to Liverpool, whose European nights on Merseyside are folklore, they have won three of their four home games in the competition this season including the qualifier - the last two 7-0 and 3-0. They have not lost at home in any competition in 14 matches, last drawing on Sunday at home to Everton.

Liverpool and Porto have clashed twice before in European competition, winning 2-0 on aggregate in a UEFA Cup quarter-final clash in 2000-01 - the year Liverpool went on to lift the trophy.

And they most recently met in the Champions League group stages of the 2006-07 season, the same year the Reds lost in the final, drawing 1-1 away from home and winning 4-1 at Anfield.

Sérgio Conceição's side, who finished second domestically last year, currently sit joint-first in the Portuguese Primeira Liga having yet to taste defeat on the same points as Sporting CP and three ahead of rivals Benfica.

Liverpool will hope by the time of their return to European action that they are still in the kind of form that has seen them go 10 games unbeaten in all competitions at the moment and score 33 goals.