The overwhelming message coming from Anfield in the wake of the defeat to Besiktas is: “We can still get through”.
Liverpool are bottom of Group A with one point from three games, needing to pretty much win all three games to go through. In fact if they do win all three games they are almost certain to go through, but given the form so far in the competition it seems a tall order.
Not according to vice-captain Jamie Carragher: “We’ve now got to look back at what happened in 2005 when we didn’t look like we’d get through but ended up winning the final. We won’t settle for the UEFA Cup, we won’t settle for anything. We’re still in the Champions League and if we win all three games I think we’ll get through.”
Speaking to LFC.tv, Carra was referring to the fact that third place would at least offer the consolation of UEFA Cup football. But Liverpool have got used to playing against the big boys of Europe: “It would be tough if we needed a win in Marseille, but this team went to Barcelona last year and won. We are capable of going anywhere in Europe and winning. If we ended up in the UEFA Cup we’d just have to get on with it. I’ve got great memories of that competition and we’d try to win it, but of course we want to stay in the Champions League – that’s the bigger competition.”
Carra admits Liverpool’s first two games in the competition were poor, but feels they could have won last night: “I wouldn’t say we did much wrong here. We were unlucky, but obviously we didn’t play well in the first two games. It’s a disappointing result but, credit to the lads, we showed great commitment and I think we can be proud of the way we played.
“It wasn’t enough on the night but we’ve still got three games to go and we’ve just got to go for it.”
Dutch forward Ryan Babel is in a similar frame of mind: “Everyone is disappointed because if you look at this game and the other two games we have played in the Champions League then we have played pretty well. Against Besiktas we created a lot of chances but we failed to score. We were unfortunate but now we have to look ahead to the next games in the group.”
Babel insists it’s not over yet: “We definitely have a chance of going through, especially because the game between Marseille and Porto ended in a draw so we still have hope. We now have to play all three teams again so you never know what might happen. It is still possible that we can make it through and unless it becomes impossible we won’t be giving up.”
The first hurdle is the return fixture against the Turks at Anfield: “We will have to beat Besiktas when they come to Anfield because of what has happened in the group so far, but we are confident that we can do that and then we will look at the next match and see what is possible. There is a lot still to play for and although he have only one point that does not mean it is impossible to qualify.
“We have to believe and have confidence in ourselves and if we do that then we will have a chance.”
Goalkeeper Pepe Reina said last night that Liverpool were unlucky to lose: “To be honest I think we played a good game. We were unlucky in front of the goal, that’s why we lost. But anyway, it is not a good result, that’s clear. Every game in this competition is now a cup final. We have to win all three games.”
Reina says that getting the UEFA Cup consolation place is the bare minimum: “At the very least we have to make sure we are third. We now have to beat Besiktas at home and then continue to fight, but it is going to be hard. I don’t want to think about not qualifying for the next round. We still have three games ahead and we have to be positive.”
Next up for Liverpool though is the task of beating current league-leaders Arsenal this weekend.