Holders Liverpool go into tonight’s Champions League match against Spanish side Real Betis needing just one point to ensure a place in the last 16 of the tournament. Despite only needing that one point though, the Reds are going to go out and aim for all three.
With Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia declared fit after some doubts going into the game, manager Rafael Benitez will be able to select a strong side against the team that beat Chelsea in the last night of games in the group.
According to Rafa, a fifth consecutive victory is what the Reds supporters packing Anfield tonight will be expecting, and that’s what he wants them to get: ""We have a big responsibilty to our supporters to win this game as we know how important this game is. I think it will be more dangerous for them as they need to come here and try and win. For us we are thinking only about winning in front of our supporters. The most important thing is to qualify for the next stage and we want to play well from the start right to the end and win this match."
Betis might be feeling fired up to take all the points from this game themselves – they had a bad weekend they need to make up for: "Real Betis have had some problems in the league and lost in the derby to Sevilla at the weekend but they have played better in the Champions League." Betis have not won any of their last five league games and are second-bottom in the Spanish league. Rafa thinks this makes them hungry for the points: "They know they have to win and that will make them danagerous."
Striker Djibril Cisse confirmed that the European Champions are thinking only of a victory, but with all due respect to a dangerous side: "One point is needed, but we are not going to play for a draw. I know a point is enough but we want to win on our pitch and in front of our fans. It is a dangerous game for us, but if we do things right then I am confident we will get the three points." This confidence is balanced with a healthy respect for the Spanish side: "They are a better side than when we beat them. You only have to see how they got on against Chelsea in Spain. We have to be careful."
Cisse’s fellow striker Fernando Morientes is familiar with tonight’s opponents having played numerous games against them in the Spanish league as a player for Real Madrid. Again there’s a respect for their opponents but a desire to get all three points as Morientes spoke of the game: "The game against Betis is key for us. We cannot fail and must only think of winning in order to qualify for the knockout phase. Betis are not easy opponents. Anyone who thinks it will be a comfortable game on Wednesday is totally wrong."
Morientes goes into the game confident in his own abilities though – he scored on Saturday making it his fourth of the season, and Betis fans have seen him score past them plenty of times during his days in Madrid. He’s looking forward to tonight: "Playing against Betis I scored a lot of goals. I believe I have now found the necessary rhythm."