Liverpool travel to Portugal to face Primeira Liga leaders Porto off the back of an important 2-0 win against Southampton to close the gap on second-placed Manchester United to two points in the Premier League.
Netherland's international Georginio Wijnaldum knows the importance of the away fixture but believes the first leg will only set up a grand finale at Anfield on March 6th.
Europe’s most elite club competition resumes this week, with the Reds facing the challenge of visiting a side who sit unbeaten at the top of their domestic league and who have lost just once at home across all competitions this season.
But with a second leg still to come, Wijnaldum believes that both teams will still have plenty to play for in the second leg - regardless of the outcome in Portugal.
“I think that’s the most important thing,” the Netherlands international told Liverpoolfc.com, after being asked whether it’s significant to keep in mind the fact Wednesday’s clash only represents the first half of the tie.
“The game will not be decided in one leg, it’s over two legs. In the first leg you must make sure you have a good result for the second leg. That’s what we have to do because you know you can’t win it in one leg. You can see with other games and other clubs that strange things can happen.
“Last season, PSG against Barcelona - everybody already thought that Barcelona was out [after the first leg] but they still changed it. So I think the most important thing is to have a good result for the next game.”
Reds 'must get a result'
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has decided to take a 25-man squad, believing that a four-day training camp after the game - due to Liverpool not being involved the FA Cup - will be beneficial even for those who are unavailable.
Porto go into the tie unbeaten in their last 23 matches in all competitions, and only lost once at home - 3-1 against Besiktas in the group stage of the Champions League.
The 27-year-old also believes that the prospect of playing the second leg in front of their own fans will not affect the way in which Liverpool approach this week’s game.
“No, not really, because you can look at two sides of it. On one side, you can think ‘OK, first it’s the away game and I think that’ll be more difficult and we can finish it at Anfield’, but on the other side you can also say ‘OK, if we start at Anfield we can have a good start and then we can finish it in Portugal’,” he explained.
“I don’t think it matters where you’re playing first, you must get a result.”
He did, however, acknowledge that scoring an away goal would be advantageous to Jürgen Klopp’s team ahead of the second meeting in three weeks’ time.
“I think if you score away it’s already a good result because it counts more than when you score at home,” Wijnaldum said.
“We will try to score but that’s what we try in every game. I don’t think we’re going to change much, we’re just going to do what we’ve done all season.”