We talked with Portuguese football expert Alex Goncalves, who founded the http://www.tugascout.com website to prepare the FC Porto football club on Thursday for the Champions League final.
What was the reaction to Port at first defeat at Anfield?
I would say that the reaction to Port was one of the frustrations but acceptance. It could have been better in the night, but at the same time it could be worse, so the Porto fans were a bit disappointed, but far from devastated.
At the end of the day, defeat did not come as a surprise.
Liverpool was a superior favorite, and even the most annoying lover in Porto did not expect too much of it.
But at the same time, Porto has created a chances, especially in the first half, and because of that, there is a great emphasis on the fact that Porto could not fool himself, making a difficult task of qualification. even harder.
There is, as you would expect from a football pitch when decisions do not go in your way, a feeling of frustration in two cases, especially because some might argue, controversial – Alexander-Arnold's first hand could result in a penalty for Porto , and the other was the great challenge of Mo Salah on Danilo Pereiri towards the end of the game.
It seems that the general consensus in Portugal is that it should have been a red card, and with the use of VAR, there was a real surprise that no action was taken against it. It would probably not make a difference in the context of equalization, but having a Salah from another match would have made Porto's very slim chances of qualifying a bit more realistic.
Do they believe I can turn my tie on the domestic field?
Porto fans are always optimistic. They believe they have a chance, and as the week lasted and the adrenaline was built as they welcome Liverpool to their home, this belief seems to have increased. But the more excitement it says is, and most fans are realistic and realize that optimism is leading you up to now.
Believing that it is possible and thinking that will happen, there are two very different things, and most fans, though excited about the possibility of a historic turnaround, do not expect this to happen. They are only satisfied that they have managed to remain competitive and are still in the tie going to the second stage, which is far more than it could be said last season when they were 5: 0 in their own yard and had all the hopes for progress they broke before the first leg ended.
What do you think, how will the chief of Porto tactically approach the second stage?
I think that Porto will move on, look to be dominant on the ball and try to get the goals that desperately need them. Of course, they must be reasonable; it would be naively to attack the players and give Liverpool a lot of space for the counterattack, but I think they will want to go there and take the game to their opponents as much as possible. They want to prove that they are able to keep up against big boys in world football, and that's what they will try to do today.
How Much Differences Will Make Pepper and Herrer Available?
The return of Captain Herrer in this is enormous. His substitution at Oliver Torres was far from a fierce fight against Liverpool in the first game but did not match Herrer's standards in any way. Having a Mexican comeback is a huge plus for Porto, no doubt, and that will surely make that a lot stronger.
Pepe is back is also a great news, the veteran adds a great game experience and, while avoiding interfering in something stupid and getting a red card, needs more backline resistance that must be close to perfection to get anything from the match. This also means that Maxi Pereira will almost certainly fall on the bench, while Militao moves to the right, so it only adds much more physicality and overall quality to the background.
Are there any more news about the Porto team in this game?
Jesus Coron is faced with a late fitness test; it would be a huge loss if it fails to play, although there is hope that it will be ready for the match.
So, except for Pepe in the center, Militao returns to the right and Hector Herrera comes to Oliver Torres, likely to be the same team as last time, with two out-and-out attackers in Moussi Maregi and Tiquinho Soares on seeing to add that is the body front to test Liverpool defenses.
It is also possible that we will see Brahimi start, maybe in front of Corona should be considered incompetent, or Ottavio.
That 5-0 LFC defeat last season must hurt Porto. How much will this be a source of motivation for your players and fans tonight?
5-0 loss is undoubtedly a huge incentive for Porto to come out and show what they can really do, surely. Porta fans may not expect to qualify but expect much better performance from last season and are looking forward to winning in the game, even if they are not equal. There is a real sense of urgency in proving that humiliating hatred last season was just cracking, one-off action, and they want to show the world what they can do.
What is your prediction?
I do not see how Porto holds a clean sheet to be honest, because of Liverpool's fiery power that would erase every opportunity that Porto has in qualifying, and I think once Liverpool's goal comes, Porto can lose a bit of intensity and could draw 1-1. Porto gets the first goal is absolutely crucial to the fans on their feet and believing in the return.