x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 April 2019

Sergio Conceicao calls Liverpool 'best team in the world' ahead of Uefa Champions League clash

Manager pays tribute to opponents as Porto face daunting task of overturning 2-0 deficit to reach semi-finals

Porto manager Sergio Conceicao attends a news conference at Dragao Stadium in Porto on Tuesday. Estela Silva / EPA
Porto manager Sergio Conceicao attends a news conference at Dragao Stadium in Porto on Tuesday. Estela Silva / EPA

Porto manager Sergio Conceicao reckons Liverpool are "the best team in the world" on their day as the Portuguese side face up to the daunting prospect of overturning a two-goal deficit in their Uefa Champions League quarter-final.

The teams meet at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday in the second leg of their last-eight tie, with Porto needing a historic comeback to go through after losing 2-0 at Anfield last week with Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino scoring.

While Porto have won all four home games in the Champions League this season, Liverpool travel to northern Portugal on top of the Premier League and unbeaten in 16 games.

"They are everything I like about football. I like the way they play, the way they are with the ball and without it," Conceicao said at an eve-of-game news conference on Tuesday. "In my opinion, a lot of the time just now they are the best team in the world."

Porto lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool a year ago when the clubs met in the last 16.

Despite that, Conceicao, who also expressed solidarity towards Liverpool fans the day after the 30th anniversary of the "dark moment" of the Hillsborough disaster, was not giving up on turning the tie around.

However, he let slip that retaining the domestic title is Porto's priority during a lengthy rant at Portuguese authorities over match scheduling.

"We are two goals down against a side who we know are very strong going forward, and so keeping our balance when we are attacking will be fundamental to ensure we don't concede," said the coach, whose team are level on points with leaders Benfica at the top of the Portuguese league.

"It is difficult to prepare for this game because, incomprehensibly, we have another game on Saturday against Santa Clara.

"Why they don't protect teams like us? I have to ask what the main goal is for FC Porto, and it is the league."

Conceicao has a doubt over the fitness of Mexican wide man Jesus Corona, but veteran defender Pepe and captain Hector Herrera are both able to play after missing the first leg due to suspension.

"I saw that we are capable of damaging Liverpool," Herrera said of his view from the stand at Anfield.

"Here at home normally we are a very strong team with our fans behind us. I really believe that tomorrow will be no exception and we will be able to go out with that positive energy and hurt Liverpool."

Enrique given all-clear from cancer

Former Liverpool and Newcastle defender Jose Enrique has been given the all-clear by doctors after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year.

Enrique said in June 2018 that he had undergone an operation to remove the tumour and he has since been going through a series of radiotherapy sessions.

"Hello guys, I just have some wonderful news today," Enrique said on Tuesday, in a video message posted on Instagram. "I just got back the report from the MRI I had just a week and a half ago.

"I just wanted to let you know, because the support from all of you has been amazing, that it's all clear, all perfect."

He added: "I can look forward now, not back anymore and just keep fighting. So it's all clear and perfect. Thank you, guys."

The 33-year-old, who spent nine years in England playing for Liverpool and Newcastle, was told he could lose his sight as a result of the tumour.

Enrique retired in 2017 after an injury-hit season with Real Zaragoza and had begun working as a football agent.

Updated: April 16, 2019 10:34 PM

SHARE

SHARE

Editors Picks
Most Read