AcademyYouth League preview: 'We'll give everything we've got to reach the semi-finals'

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By Steve Hunter

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Barry Lewtas is hoping Liverpool U19s can rise to the occasion and progress to the semi-finals of the UEFA Youth League for the first time when they face Sporting CP in Lisbon this afternoon.

A place in the last four of the competition is on offer for the young Reds if they can get past a talented Portuguese outfit in a tie you can watch live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO (1pm GMT kick-off).

Both Liverpool and Sporting topped their groups before defeating FC Porto and AFC Ajax respectively in the first knockout round.

With Sporting having beaten Ajax 5-1 on home turf, Lewtas is under no illusions as to the size of the task his side face.

But they will do so full of confidence after fighting back from a goal down to overcome Porto on penalties.

Read on as Lewtas looks ahead to a big occasion for his players…

On the quarter-final tie…

We are really looking forward to it. We are in the last eight of the competition and the boys have done ever so well to get us to this position. It’s a fantastic tie. We deserve to be where we have got to. We had some excellent performances in the group stage and we have dealt with certain situations really well. This will be a really good tie and we will give it everything we can to try to make the semi-finals.

On the quality of the opposition…

They are a really good side, no doubt about that. But in Premier League 2, which is the competition we play in, there aren’t any bad teams. So if you get to this stage of this competition, you know you will be up against a good team. We are a good team as well.

Highlights: Liverpool U19s 1-1 FC Porto (6-5 on penalties)

On the character shown by his players in the last-16 tie against Porto…

Listen, the only disappointing thing about that game is we didn’t beat them in open play, because we should have. We created some great opportunities but just couldn’t get another goal before we held our nerve in the shootout. We approached the game really well, we forced them to play differently. So, that was the only disappointment in that we didn’t win it in normal time. We played ever so well, deserved to win, and I was delighted with them.

On playing away from home at this stage of the Youth League…

In any cup competition you need certain things to go your way and a little bit of good fortune. For us, we’ll certainly take any luck that comes our way, but we have just got to approach this game the way we have so far in this competition. We have played some really big teams in this competition – Ajax, Napoli, Rangers, Porto – so we will go there really confident. We haven’t managed to get past this stage before, so that is a real motivation for us – both as players and as staff – and we will give it our best go.

On the influence of Dominic Corness in midfield since handing him the captain’s armband…

Dom is a real leader for us and he has deserved the armband. He is a big influence. We all know about his left foot and what he can deliver for us from set-pieces. He has been a big part of what we have done at U19 and U21 level this season. He has worked so hard on his game and he is a fantastic character. He always wants to listen and get better. Dom has turned into a real model professional and I’m really proud of him. He has stepped up this season and he has been a big part of how we play. I know he’s looking forward to this game and he deserves all the plaudits that have come his way this season.

Live Youth League football: Watch Sporting CP v Liverpool
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NOWLive Youth League football: Watch Sporting CP v LiverpoolWatch Liverpool U19s' UEFA Youth League quarter-final tie against Sporting CP live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO.

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