- Liverpool to beat Porto – 11/10 with Coral
- Both teams to score in Man City v Spurs – 4/5 with William Hill
Porto vs Liverpool Tips
The Liverpool machine just keeps rolling on. A home clash with Chelsea in the midst of a Premier League title race brought back memories of the Reds’ decisive 2-0 defeat by the same opposition in 2013/14, a result which handed Manchester City an advantage they did not relinquish.
This time around Maurizio Sarri`s side came into the game in decent form, but goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah early in the second half gave Liverpool victory in their hardest remaining top-tier assignment. Win four more matches and Jurgen Klopp’s men have an excellent chance of finishing on top of the pile.
The outlook is equally positive in Europe, where a two-goal aggregate lead over Porto puts Liverpool in pole position to progress. The mid-season acquisition of Virgil van Dijk in 2017/18 was undoubtedly a significant moment in the evolution of this team, but Klopp has also reconfigured the side to make them better equipped to fight on two fronts.
There is more control to their play than chaos these days, and that stands them in good stead for this quarter-final second leg.
Porto are by no means a bad side and Klopp will know that the job is not finished just yet, but Liverpool’s counter-attacking prowess should see them through here. The visitors will be happy to cede possession so long as they retain the initiative, and it is difficult to see them not scoring at least once – most likely from a quick break when the ball changes hands. Back Liverpool to win the second leg and advance to the last four for the second season on the bounce.
Manchester City vs Tottenham Tips
With two triumphs to his name, Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful managers in the history of the European Cup/Champions League. Yet it is fair to say that things have not gone his way in the continent’s premier competition since departing Barcelona; Guardiola suffered three consecutive semi-final eliminations during his time at Bayern Munich, and he is yet to lead City into the tournament showpiece either.
Even more puzzlingly given his undeniable domestic success, last week’s 1-0 loss to Tottenham means the Catalan has not won a single away game in the quarter-finals or semi-finals since 2011.
There are individual and distinct explanations for each of those failures, and some cannot even be labelled as such given the calibre of opposition. However, it is increasingly clear that Guardiola has a tendency to overthink his team selections and tactics in such high-profile encounters, and that proved the case in north London last Tuesday.
Picking Riyad Mahrez over Leroy Sane was a curious choice, while it was even harder to see the reasoning behind the omission of Kevin De Bruyne, who only entered the fray after City were a goal down. Guardiola seemed to choose a cautious starting XI to protect his team against Spurs’ transitions, but it resulted in a meek display which leaves City with it all to do at the Etihad Stadium.
The situation is far from irretrievable, however, and City will fancy their chances of overturning the deficit in front of their own fans. The absence through injury of Harry Kane is a major blow for Spurs – the indisputable fact that Mauricio Pochettino’s men have won 100 per cent of their fixtures without him this term is a misnomer – and the visitors will also have to be mindful about getting overrun in the middle of the park.
The speed of Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min could cause City problems going the other way, though, and Pochettino’s side know that scoring a single goal would automatically require City to find the net three times.
Like most meetings between this pair – who are probably two of the best-coached outfits in Europe – this should be an engaging, absorbing affair. City will likely come flying out of the traps in a bid to level up the aggregate scores as soon as possible, but Tottenham have the potential to pick the hosts off on the break – particularly if desperation sets in. Go for both teams to score in this one.