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The Reds have the luxury of a dead rubber at the earliest possible stage of the competition and are likely to take advantage.
Liverpool vs Porto
| Wednesday, November 24th |
Champions League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
With qualification to the knockout stage of the competition already wrapped up, Liverpool have the rare opportunity to manage the minutes of their stars, but the Reds will still want to win it in front of their fans, and tomorrow’s opponents have everything to play for, so expect fireworks nonetheless.
Porto sit second in Group A, one point ahead of Atlético Madrid, who they will face in the final match of the group stage, and will be looking to take an advantage into that fixture by picking up a result at Anfield.
Since they were demolished 5-1 by the Reds in their own backyard in September, the dragões have won four straight, taking them to the top of an historically close Primeira Liga table, and they produced a 5-1 win of their own at the weekend, hammering Feirense as they advanced to the fifth round of the Portuguese cup.
Sérgio Conceicao has a full squad to choose from as well, and if Liverpool show any weakness or disinterest tomorrow night, the dragons will be ready to pounce.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Kelleher; Williams, Konaté, Gomez, Tsimikas; Morton, Milner, Thiago; Mané, Minamino, Origi
While Jürgen Klopp has traditionally been hesitant to overly rotate his squad in competitions that matter — to his detriment last year, as Diogo Jota missed eight weeks following an injury sustained in a dead rubber against Midtjylland — indications from today’s press conference are that the German is more amenable to the idea this year.
As such, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a number of starters rested tomorrow night and fringe players and youths being given a chance to shine.
Neco Williams had a tremendously productive international break and could be in line to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Kostas Tsimikas is likely to start again, as Andy Robertson’s fitness is in doubt. Further experience for Ibrahima Konaté and some game time for Joe Gomez wouldn’t go amiss either.
James Milner trained today following his hamstring trouble and could start, while another appearance for young starlet Tyler Morton remains a possibility. Jordan Henderson is likely to be given a few more days to recover before being thrown back into the fray, and as such, at least one of Fabinho, Thiago or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will retain their place.
Takumi Minamino could nab a starting position following his goal at the weekend, and Divock Origi is reportedly back in training following a bout with illness, but Sadio Mané, Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah will all want to be involved as much as possible and are likely to feature at some point.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “We prepare for an incredibly strong and competitive team tomorrow. We need an exceptional atmosphere tomorrow. We have to win it together.”
Sérgio Conceição: “[Liverpool] are one of the best teams in the world. You look how they play, their principles, and regardless of who plays, they will not change. It’s down to us. We can’t control the opponent’s strategy, which will likely be the same as how they play every week. But we have our strengths, our ability, our tactics, our ambition.”
The Officials (GER)
Referee: Felix Zwayer
Assistant referees: Marco Achmüller, Mike Pickel
Fourth official: Sven Jablonski
VAR: Bastian Dankert, Harm Osmers
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.