LONDON – Liverpool’s 5-0 win in Porto last month virtually guaranteed them a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals but manager Juergen Klopp says he will pick a strong team for the return leg tonight, in spite of a trip to Manchester United looming at the weekend.
“It’s not about rest. Porto have won all their games since we played them,” Klopp said.
“They will strike back, that’s what they want. They are Portuguese and proud and will give a fight. They want to strike back. If anybody here thinks they come here and give the game up, leave their star players at home or whatever they are mistaken. It’s Champions League and the whole world is watching. What do you think?”
Liverpool face United at Old Trafford in the Premier League four days later in a battle for second behind runaway leaders Manchester City.
“I don’t think for a second about resting anybody. I know it’s Manchester United afterwards but we cannot change it,” he added.
Liverpool recorded a convincing 2-0 victory of Newcastle United on Saturday, extending their unbeaten run in the competition to five matches and moving up to second.
“Mentality, is always the part of the personality where you can improve most, all of us,” Klopp said. “You cannot win any race in the world without being aggressive. That’s how it is. So, in the situation we are in now, it’s clear we will not win the Premier League but it’s very positive.”
PSG, meanwhile, are without Brazil striker Neymar as they attempt to overcome a 3-1 deficit against title-holders Real Madrid in the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Another English Premier League side well placed to advance to the quarters-finals after big wins are Manchester City, while Tottenham Hotspur take on Juventus at Wembley with the tie poised at 2-2.
Spurs - one of five Premier League sides hoping to reach the last eight - look to carry the momentum of a first-leg fightback when they host Juventus at Wembley tomorrow.
Spurs found themselves two goals down after nine minutes in the opener in Italy before Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen earned them a 2-2 draw. The vital away goals left them in a good position against a Juve side that have won six straight Italian titles and reached two of the last three Champions League finals.
“I think we need to be relaxed now and try to prepare the best game in the best way,” said manager Mauricio Pochettino, whose team is unbeaten in 17 games in all competitions.
“It doesn’t change because it’s Champions League or an important game. For me, all the games are important. The approach must be the same.”
Juve enjoyed a tight 1-0 win at Lazio on Saturday but expect a more open game against Tottenham. “It will be all or nothing at Wembley and we’re going to have to play very well indeed,” veteran centre-back Andrea Barzagli said.
Manchester City, who beat Basel 4-0 in Switzerland, and Liverpool, who cruised past Porto 5-0 in Portugal, are well on course for a last-eight place.
City manager Pep Guardiola, fresh from league victories over Arsenal and Chelsea, insists his team won’t take their foot off the gas on Wednesday.
“Against Basel we are going to try to play the way we played today,” he said after the Chelsea win, which he called “perfect.”