For the third time in four years the Reds play host to Chelsea in a Champions League semi-final, but for the first time in those meetings it’s the first leg at Anfield.
Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio are the full backs either side of Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel, with Sami Hyypia on the bench.
And that, really, was the only part of Rafa’s line-up anyone was likely to guess over, injuries permitting.
Pepe Reina is in goal, on the day he said he couldn’t imagine life at Anfield without Rafa. Mascherano and Alonso are the two-man midfield, behind that row of three featuring Marcus Babel, Dirk Kuyt and the fit-again captain Steven Gerrard. In front is Fernando Torres, Liverpool’s number nine.
Chelsea start with Malouda, a name that might be looked back on in years to come as integral to the ownership situation, given that he was a target allegedly lost due to the slowness of CEO Rick Parry, the frustration felt by Rafa ultimately leading to bigger problems for the board than they might have imagined. He also won a penalty in bizarre fashion after throwing himself at the nearest Red shirt, enough to convince Rob Style in the game that saw Fernando Torres open his Reds account.
It’s a big match, but it’s only part one.
And off the field Tom Hicks, Tom Hicks Jnr and Mrs Hicks are there already, with Foster Gillett expected, alongside his guests Ms Staveley and Mr al-Ansari of DIC.
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 12 Aurelio, 18 Kuyt, 14 Alonso, 20 Mascherano, 19 Babel, 8 Gerrard, 9 Torres
Subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia, 6 Riise, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch, 16 Pennant, 21 Lucas
Chelsea: 1 Cech, 20 Ferreira, 6 Carvalho, 26 Terry, 3 A Cole, 8 Lampard, 4 Makelele, 13 Ballack, 10 J Cole, 11 Drogba, 15 Malouda
Subs: 40 Hilario, 7 Shevchenko, 12 Obi, 21 Kalou, 33 Alex, 35 Belletti, 39 Anelka
Referee: Konrad Plautz