Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool "looking forward" to Champions League last-16 tie with Porto

Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool will face a "strong side" in Porto when they resume Champions League participation in the knock-out phase in February but are relishing the challenge.

Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool "looking forward" to Champions League last-16 tie with Porto
(Picture: Getty Images - John Powell)

Jürgen Klopp declared that Liverpool are highly anticipating the club's first return to the Champions League last-16 in nine years after they were drawn to face FC Porto.

The Reds were paired with the Portuguese league leaders after topping Group E ahead of fellow qualifiers Sevilla, claiming 7-0 wins over both of their other group opponents - Spartak Moscow and Maribor.

They travel to Portugal on February 14, before the return contest at Anfield - the famous stadium's first knockout fixture in the competition since April 2009 - on March 6.

While Porto will pose a stern test to Liverpool, it is one that the manager says he and his players will savour.

Reds "looking forward" to Porto tie

Reacting to the draw, Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: "It's just good that we now know it. Last Wednesday, when we knew we were still involved [in the group stages], that was our big dream. We didn't care who we would get."

The German felt that it was "clear" that Liverpool would face "a strong side" whoever they were paired with, insisting that Porto are "a strong side, first in the Portuguese league and always good."

"This year again they're a difficult side to play," he said, hailing how Sérgio Conceição's side "came through in a difficult group" including "a really good side" in RB Leipzig, who finished third.

Klopp insisted that it will be an "interesting" two-legged clash, adding: "It's good that we have the first game at Porto. The weather is better there in February. Then in March we meet them at Anfield; we are really looking forward to it."

Klopp: Anfield "has to be the difference"

Liverpool have a busy festive fixture schedule to contend with before their return to European competition, with 11 Premier League games and at least one FA Cup - and potentially up to three - ties all lined up prior to the trip to Portugal.

On when his preparations begin, the Reds boss declared that they "have time" and noted that the Portuguese top-flight "doesn't have a proper winter break" with only "one week or 10 days off."

"We have enough games to watch and we will watch all of them," Klopp said of his side's analysis of Porto, insisting they won't "watch the Champions League games too much" because the fixture is two months away.

He noted that they "have the league games" to scour through, though noted "so many things can happen" between now and then including "the transfer window, injuries, everything."

Yet Klopp insists Liverpool are relishing the opportunity which they "dreamt of" and are "really looking forward to playing", though declared they have "a few things to do until then."

In his time in charge on Merseyside, Klopp has regularly referenced the power of the Anfield atmosphere and he believes the second leg being at home is a huge benefit.

"It has to be a difference. That's how it is," he continued. "You go there [to Porto] and there's no easy place in the world of football, but we go there in the first game. I don't have a plan for that game yet. Then, of course, Anfield must make the difference."