Liverpool 2-0 Porto: 5 Talking Points & Tactical Analysis
Liverpool played FC Porto for the second consecutive season in the Champions League and once again, the Reds were the comfortable winners over the Portuguese outfit despite not being at their usual best at Anfield.
The visitors started the game on a high but it was Jurgen Klopp’s side who took an early lead in the game. Naby Keita, who broke his deadlock against Southampton on Friday night, registered his name on the scoresheet again. The Guinean International’s shot took a deflection off the opponent to end up inside the back of the net in the fifth minute.
Mohamed Salah had an excellent chance to double the score within a few minutes but the Egyptian failed to take the chance. However, the hosts made it two when Trent Alexander-Arnold found his teammate Roberto Firmino in the far post who had to tap the ball inside from two yards.
In this article, we shall take a look at the five talking points from the game between Liverpool and FC Porto.
#1 Stand out performance from Eder Militao
The best player in the backline for FC Porto would be Real Madrid’s new signing Eder Militao. The Brazilian International was given the task to handle Salah when the full-back Alex Telles gets higher up the pitch.
The Porto defender proved his finesse by closing down the gap and did not allow any attacker to get past him. Despite the poor result by conceding two goals, Eder Militao was the standout player from Porto’s defense. There were many instances when the Reds broke through the counter-attack but the defender read the game to perfection to stop them from breaching the defense.
Salah is one of the quickest players in the Premier League and the Brazilian matched his pace to make some recoveries at the end. Zinedine Zidane would have been proud of Eder Militao’s performance against one of the best sides in Europe.
#2 Mohamed Salah lacks decision making in the final third
There have often been talks about Mohamed Salah’s form in recent months. The whole world feels like he has lost his mojo but his overall game was excellent against FC Porto. The Egyptian gave trouble to Alex Telles but Eder Militao dealt with him brilliantly.
There was an instant when the Liverpool attacker left Telles to death with a sharp turn and created space for himself. Despite doing all the good work, he nullified himself when his pass was cut down in the penalty box. Corona played a woeful pass which went straight to Salah, but the attacker’s shot was agonizingly close from finding the back of the net.
The 26-year-old broke his nine-game deadlock against Southampton but he buckled under pressure and failed to deliver the same output he used to produce before.
#3 Liverpool’s midfield produced a dominant display
Liverpool deployed their usual 4-3-3 formation tonight, which saw Fabinho as the defensive midfielder, and Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita playing supportive roles to the strikers with wingers playing slightly further up the pitch.
Henderson linked up well with Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold to make things happen in the offensive areas of the pitch. He produced an extraordinary cross but Roberto Firmino was not able to convert it from that volley. During the second half of the game, he sat back with Fabinho to cut down Porto’s counter attacks and settle for a two-goal lead.
Fabinho struggled to catch up with the strikers Moussa Marega and Soares but he produced a much improved second-half performance. The Brazilian won plenty of duels and ran the show in the middle of the pitch in the final 45 minutes to help his side defensively and offensively.
Naby Keita was often criticized for his defensive contributions. But, the Guinean made sure that their midfielder was not overrun and thereby covered plenty of ground to make things happen. He was rightfully rewarded with a goal early on in the game.
#4 Marega gave Van Dijk and Lovren a run for their money
If Sérgio Conceição was happy about one player’s display from his team, he would pick out the striker Moussa Marega. The Malian International kept Dejan Lovren and Virgil Van Dijk on their toes by constantly giving troubles by running behind them and stretch the game.
During the first half in a counter attack, Marega set himself well to shoot the ball from close range. The Porto striker struck the ball with enough venom, but Liverpool’s shot-stopper Alisson Becker stood up to the task by saving the ball with his feet to carry the ball to safety. Minutes later, when Liverpool’s defense tried to keep up a high line, Marega received a very good delivery, but he hit the ball straight into the Brazilian’s hands.
Besides these two moments, his overall game was significant by constantly keeping the opponents on their toss.
#5 Liverpool took their chances in the first half
Liverpool did not create a handful of chances throughout the game because they were at their second gear. James Milner stretched the game into the wider area to find Sadio Mane. Senegalese International drifted inside and passed the ball to Naby Keita inside the penalty box.
The Reds’ number 8 took a shot which deflected off Porto’s defender to end up in the back of the net. Mohamed Salah had an excellent chance to extend the lead, but the Egyptian was not able to convert the chance in a one-on-one situation. The attacker got it horribly wrong and the ball went slightly away from the crossbar.
However, Liverpool’s samba boy Roberto Firmino secure a two-goal lead when Jordan Henderson played an exquisite pass to find Trent Alexander-Arnold in the wider area. The right-back’s pass reached Liverpool’s number 9 in the far post, who had to tap the ball in from close range.