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Liverpool happy to be underdogs in Champions League - Dejan Lovren

PORTO, Portugal -- Dejan Lovren has said Liverpool are capable of winning the Champions League this season and is relishing their status as underdogs.

Liverpool are all but in the quarterfinals after their 5-0 win at Porto in the round-of-16 first leg on Wednesday.

With Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City all considered more likely winners than Liverpool, Lovren feels Jurgen Klopp's side can benefit from going under the radar.

Asked whether they could win the competition, the centre-back said: "Why not? Of course.

"Yes, if we are right and we do our job like we did and everyone defends well -- each centimetre of the pitch is covered -- then we have a great chance to be in the next round, I would say, and then it is step-by-step.

"It is good when they don't talk about us. We are the underdogs, I would say.

"I love that when people think that about us. It is something from deep inside that will explode, but we need to be calm and finish the second game at home and let's see what happens later.

"It is brilliant to be part of the last 16 but there is still a long way to go and we need just to be smart. We also need to focus on the Premier League because we need to finish in the top four so we can get what we want, which is to be in the Champions League next season."

Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane scored three goals for Liverpool in the 5-0 victory at Porto.

Sadio Mane scored his first hat trick for Liverpool at the Estadio do Dragao, and Klopp said the Senegal forward was back to his best after a recent spell of indifferent form.

"It was tough on me, but it is part of football and can happen," Mane said of his difficult patch. "I never doubted how I could help the team and I never stopped working hard every day in training.

"I always tried to remain balanced, even when it was not working, because it is my job and I have to do it.

"It is part of football. I don't know how to describe it, but it can happen to every single player and in my mind I was relaxed that it will change."

The five goals scored in Portugal on Wednesday took Liverpool's overall tally for the season to 99 in all competitions.

James Milner has been Liverpool's unsung hero all season long.
James Milner acknowledged Liverpool's defence will continue to improve.

In order to turn that potency into silverware, James Milner said Liverpool needed to continue improving their management of games.

"The hardest thing in football is putting the ball in the back of the net and we have got players who can do that," the 32-year-old said.

"The other side we have got to work on is clean sheets. We have got to manage games better. We have talked about it over the last few months as a team, and with the manager as well. That, ultimately, is what wins you titles.

"You can be brilliant going forward but everyone remembers the great Newcastle team who were brilliant going forward but they never won anything. They say defences win you championships.

"We have kept a few clean sheets recently and our game management has been good. We can still attack, attack, attack, but we can now put men behind the ball and take the sting out of games."

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.


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