Liverpool travel to Benfica for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash on Tuesday, with Jurgen Klopp needing every advantage he can get as the Reds chase a quadruple
Liverpool’s January transfer business may have handed them a key advantage as they prepare for their Champions League quarter-final clash with Benfica.
The Reds travel to the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday night for the first leg of their last eight tie, with a quadruple of trophies still very much on the cards. To keep their aim to secure that historic achievement on track, Jurgen Klopp’s men will hope to secure a comfortable win from their trip to Portugal.
Klopp would appear to possess a crucial upper-hand over Nélson Veríssimo’s men going into Tuesday’s trip to Lisbon. It is an advantage that comes from their business in the winter window, even though they only signed one player.
But that one player was Luis Diaz, who has proven to be a crucial part of Klopp’s team since his arrival. The Reds bought Diaz in from Porto, one of Benfica’s biggest rivals, for £37.5million.
The winger spent two and a half years with Porto, coming up against Benfica seven times in all competitions. He enjoyed remarkable success against As Águias, scoring five goals and notching two assists without losing a game.
Klopp can take advantage of that record by restoring the Colombian to the starting line-up, having selected Diogo Jota on the left for the win over Watford. In a similar way to Luis Suarez frequently found the back of the net against Norwich, Klopp can deploy the same tactic using Diaz against Benfica.
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Klopp can also utilise Diaz in a different way, with the 25-year-old having spent the first half of the season in the Primeira Liga. Diaz will have first-hand knowledge of how Veríssimo sets up his side, insight he will be able to share to his team-mates at Anfield.
Though Klopp moved to play down the insight that Diaz will surely provide, the winger was part of a team that claimed a 3-1 win over Benfica earlier this season. Diaz is part of a core of Portuguese experts at Anfield, something the Reds boss can use to full effect in the quarter-final match-up.
“He [Diaz] tried for 10 minutes, but we didn’t understand a word! With Vitor Matos and Pep Lijnders and Diogo Jota and Luis we have enough specialists for Portuguese football in our team. But we analyse anyway as normal. We had meeting this morning with the boys. Now we have to make sure that we use them,” Klopp said.
“There is a lot of quality in this [Benfica] team and experience. It is an interesting challenge. That is how it should be. I am really happy and I am really looking forward to it. We all know one failure, one little misstep, and at least one competition can be gone. That’s no problem for us, we’re just ready for the next challenge.”
With Klopp himself admitting one slip-up could spell disaster for Liverpool’s quadruple hopes, the presence of Diaz should be a key advantage. While he insisted it would be training as usual, the Colombian will serve as an important sounding board for Liverpool’s Benfica planning.