UEFA Champions League 2017/18, Porto v Liverpool: Combined XI

Premier League and European heavyweights Liverpool will travel to Portugal to take on FC Porto in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie at the Estadio Do Dragao on Wednesday night. The match-up will see the 2004 UCL winners Porto going head to head with the 2005 winners Liverpool, and so we have sketched out a combined XI.

Despite only winning a half of their group stage matches, Liverpool came out on top of UEFA Champions League Group E above Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor. Porto finished as runners-up in a difficult Group G, above RB Leipzig and Monaco, but behind Besiktas.

Porto have been unbeaten in their last 24 matches in all competitions but The Reds will travel to Portugal full of confidence and with a genuine hope of heading into the crucial second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, at Anfield with a positive result at Estadio Do Dragao.

Ahead of this intriguing clash on Valentine’s Day (14 Feb), we sketch out the best combined XI, featuring players from both Porto and Liverpool.

Formation: 4-4-2

GOALKEEPER – Jose Sa

Portuguese goalkeeper Jose Sa has been a reliable presence in goal for Porto this season and has dethroned World Cup winner Iker Casillas at the club. Despite Loris Karius’ encouraging recent form for Liverpool, Jose Sa walks in as the goalkeeper for our joint eleven of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash.

DEFENDERS – Maxi Pereira, Virgil Van Dijk, Ivan Marcano, Alex Telles

Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been good on the right side of the defence for Liverpool this season but they are still learning on the job and are prone to mistakes. Porto’s veteran right-back Maxi Pereira takes this spot for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash.

£75m record signing Virgil van Dijk has made a lukewarm start to his Liverpool career but it is general consensus that the Dutchman is the man to lead the Liverpool’s defence for the next few years and is an automatic pick in this side.

Spanish centre-back Ivan Marcano has been a rock in Porto’s defence for the better part of 3 years now and has been absolutely crucial in their 24-game unbeaten run. Marcano will partner Van Dijk in cental defence.

Alex Telles will fill into the left-back position in this combined lineup. The 25-year-old Brazilian edges out Alberto Moreno and Andy Robertson for this spot.

MIDFIELDERS – Mohamed Salah, Hector Herrera, Jordan Henderson, Yacine Brahimi 

Liverpool summer signing Mohamed Salah has been in sensational goal-scoring form for Liverpool ever since his arrival from AS Roma. The Egyptian has already scored 29 goals in all competitions this season, including 6 in the UEFA Champions League. He will rightfully play on the right-wing in this team.

Porto captain Hector Herrera is a solid midfield presence and has been another key contributor in the club’s long unbeaten run in all competitions in the current campaign. He will take up the first central midfield position.

With Emre Can suspended and Gini Wijnaldum going through a poor run of form, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is the best contender to fill up the other central midfield position. Henderson is now an experienced customers and is particularly good at linking up play between attack and defence.

Given Sadio Mane’s barren spell in front of goal, Porto’s veteran winger Yacine Brahimi will slot into the left side of the midfield of our combined lineup.

FORWARDS – Roberto Firmino, Vincent Aboubakar

A relatively simpler choice to make, this one. Like Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino is also going through a great run of form in front of goal. The Brazilian forward was the second highest goal-scorer in the group stages of the tournament and has supplied 20 goals and 11 assists in all competitions for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the current campaign. His overall intelligent play in and around the box is also a huge asset to Liverpool’s heavy metal football.

The other centre-forward in this side has to be Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar. The 26-year-old Cameroonian’s numbers say it all – 26 goals and 6 assists in all competitions. An absolute must pick in this combined lineup of players.

Porto v Liverpool Combined XI – Jose Sa, M. Pereira, Van Dijk, Marcano, Telles, Herrera, Henderson, Brahimi, Salah, Firmino, Aboubakar