Football

No one wants to face Reds, say Hargreaves and Ferdinand

Former Bayern Munich and Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves said that no team will want to draw Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The Reds advanced to the last eight of Europe's premier club tournament after a 0-0 draw with Porto at Anfield which saw them progress 5-0 on aggregate.

Lauding Liverpool's front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, former England player Hargreaves said on BT Sport: "I don't think anyone will want to face Liverpool with the attack they have. The balance of the team is great. Now they have to finish the season strong.

"Can they finish second in the Premier League? Can they get into a semi-final? If they can find a way to do that, I think it will be a very successful season for Juergen Klopp.

"And this team seems like it's peaking at the right time."

His former United teammate Rio Ferdinand went one step further, saying rather than be content with a semi-final spot, the Reds have the quality to win the tournament.

The former England defender said on BT Sport: "I think they have got the potential to (go all the way).

"You wouldn't want to be drawn against Liverpool. I don't care who you are in this tournament now.

"That front three, when they're on fire, the way they play, the intensity, going to Anfield, the pace they've got in that team - they're going to be a hard proposition for any team."

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS

While Hargreaves and Ferdinand focused on the Reds' attack, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard suggested it is defensive improvements that make the Reds a dangerous proposition.

He said on BT Sport: "People talk the front three and how dangerous they are and how good they are going forward but, for me, defensively they've tightened up.

"The goalkeeper's (Loris Karius) in great form, (Virgil) van Dijk's made a big impact, but they've cut out the mistakes."

Liverpool have reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2009 and their manager Klopp believes the five-time European champions are back where they belong.

He said: "Last eight is cool. (But) we're not a little bit satisfied. I think it was time that we showed up again... This year we belong there. The next round will be very difficult... But I think we'ill have a chance for sure to go to the semis, that is of course the target."

Porto boss Sergio Conceicao believes the Reds can exceed that target, saying: "Liverpool are definitely one of the teams that can win this year."

For now, though, Sadio Mane is turning his sights back to the English Premier League and the blockbuster clash with Manchester United on Saturday.

He said: "It will not be easy, but I've always said we can beat any team in the world. They are one of the best teams in England, of course in the world also, but we are as well."

After five clean sheets in his last seven starts Karius, too, is confident, adding: "We're really confident, looking at ourselves and our own abilities, we know we can beat them."

Football