Rio Ferdinand has run the risk of angering Manchester United supporters by bravely claiming he thinks Liverpool will win the Champions League this season.
Liverpool face Porto in the second leg of their quarter-final clash on Wednesday evening and are firm favourites to advance to a semi-final tie with Barcelona, going into the tie with a 2-0 lead.
Jurgen Klopp has warned the Reds why they can’t afford to let their guard slip; but Ferdinand – in assessing United’s exit against the Catalonian side on Tuesday evening – is already tipping Liverpool to go all the way.
“I think [Jurgen] Klopp will look at those first ten minutes [of United against Barcelona] in this game today because, listen, if [Sadio] Mane, [Mohamed] Salah and [Roberto] Firmino go through there I’m expecting a different turnout on those occasions,” he told BT Sport.
“I think they score those chances. I think that game could be set up perfectly for Liverpool because if they play on the counter-attack, they’re an energetic team, they have a physicality which is different to this Man United team. I think they’ll cause more problems to this Barcelona team.
“But, saying that, they’ve got Messi and how you prepare for him… we don’t know.”
Ferdinand added: “I think an English team will win it this year.”
And when host Gary Lineker pushed Ferdinand for a specific club, the former centre-back replied: “I think Liverpool will win it this year.”
His fellow pundit Owen Hargreaves also batted off claims that Barcelona are now favourites and, despite Messi’s brilliance, still thinks they are beatable.
“They [Barcelona] are not the favourites for me but Messi could have a masterclass and sometimes you’ve just got to hold your hands up,” Hargreaves said. “I think Manchester City or Liverpool will beat Barca if they play like that.”
United fans should not be too concerned by Ferdinand’s prediction, however, given it was only 24 hours earlier that the former defender was tipping Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to triumph in the Nou Camp.
Get the latest personalised Reds products on our new TEAMtalk Liverpool shop!