Rafa: Lay off Momo

Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez has been listening to some knee-jerk criticism thrown at young midfielder Momo Sissoko and has asked that the critics blame him instead.

Momo was badly injured earlier in the season, forced to undergo surgery on a dislocated shoulder. His performances since he returned haven’t been of the high standards fans had come to expect from him, and so he’s now become one of the victims of the phone-in moaners’ rants.

On Wednesday night Rafa picked a side with a 4-4-1-1 formation, playing Steven Gerrard just behind a lone striker, and asking Momo to play a slightly different role than he’s used to alongside Javier Mascherano. Rafa said this was nothing more than a trial run of a different system, and it didn’t work out that night because of the way ‘Boro were playing: “I knew that Momo was having some problems in that position on Wednesday, but that was more my fault than his fault.”

Rafa explained: “I said to him ‘play here and try to do your best’ because I wanted to play a different system, but he had problems because the other team was compact and very narrow. They constricted the space between the lines and for him to play in this position was a big problem, but I wanted to check out another system.”

Continue reading Rafa: Lay off Momo

Result and reaction: Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 0

Barclays Premiership – Result

Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 0

Half-time: 0-0

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Pennant, Mascherano, Sissoko (Kuyt, 51), Zenden, Gerrard (Gonzalez, 87), Crouch.
Unused subs: Dudek, Hyypia, Fowler.
Goals: Gerrard 58, 65 (pen)

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer,
Davies, Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor, Boateng, Morrison (Viduka, 66),
Cattermole (Johnson, 81), Rochemback, Downing, Yakubu.
Unused subs: Jones, Riggott, Lee.
Booking: Davies 59.

win over Middlesbrough last night means the club are one win away from
a top-four finish, and a place in the qualifiers for next season's
Champions League.

Fifth-placed Everton and sixth-placed Bolton
are both on 54 points, ten points behind the Reds. All the teams have
four games left meaning one win would put Liverpool out of their reach.

Steven Gerrard scored both goals, one from the penalty spot shortly after another Gerrard special.


Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:
"I thought we deserved to win but we had to be patient and we had to
work hard, keep moving the ball around as they played deep and were
very organised. They came to play on the counter attack and get men
behind the ball and sometimes it can be difficult to create clear
chances when the opposition play so deep. We knew we needed to win to
help make sure of a top four place and if we can get into third it will
be perfect.

"We now want to beat Wigan on Saturday and hopefully
make sure of a top four finish. Then we can start thinking about the
Champions League semi-final.

"We know the qualities Steven
Gerrard has and he can change games with his shots from distance. He
did just that for the first goal and that was the key to victory. We
know Gerrard is happier when he is playing in the middle but he knows
that sometimes I have to play him on the right side for the good of the
team. In the middle, Steven Gerrard is always a player who is very
‘Boro boss Gareth Southgate: "There were a
lot of positives. We came here with a gameplan to keep it tight and
open it up towards the end but got caught napping to a wonderful strike
when we switched off for a moment. We needed an extra body around the
midfield area and James Morrison did that role very well for us, but we
switched off for a second and with teams the calibre of Liverpool and
players the quality of Steven Gerrard, if you do that they punish you.

"That gave us a mountain to climb and just as we were trying to get Dukes on we conceded what I feel is a soft penalty."

(On the penalty decision): "I'm not sure. If it's at the other end I'm not sure it's given.

have very often played 4-4-2 and tried to go for it and not got the
results. The team were disciplined in their defending. Yes, Liverpool
had a lot of possession but the chances were limited before the goal.

the way they've been playing with one striker and one in behind. We
were prepared for that and that's why we did what we did. It's
interesting that nobody questions it when they do that here. At times
at home for us if we don't play with two strikers we get ripped to

Attendance: 41,458

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Stats: (Liverpool – ‘Boro)
Possession: 60% – 40%
Shots on target: 7 – 2
Shots off target: 11 – 3
Corners: 8 – 2
Fouls: 8 – 13

Continue reading Result and reaction: Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 0

LFC TV to launch this year

Liverpool FC have officially confirmed their plans to launch a UK TV channel later on in the year. UK Television channels (other than the BBC which has its own rules) are regulated by Ofcom, and the club registered their interest in launching a UK channel with them some time ago. Now Rick Parry has confirmed that discussions with broadcasters are moving along.

The club already invest money each week in content for use overseas and online (under the e-season ticket facility). To create a dedicated UK channel would mean more investment in both content creation and in other broadcast costs, costs the club had never considered worthwhile in the past. The plan to launch this channel pre-dates the takeover, although the new owners are likely to push it forward if they feel it will be profitable.

The Reds’ chief executive Rick Parry said: “We are very excited about the prospect of the club channel which could be a great addition to the coverage that we already provide for our supporters through our website, mobile services and print media.”
A recent, and ongoing, high-profile row between Virgin and Sky has shown that deals to carry channels on different platforms are not so easy to strike. For Liverpool to broadcast on Sky means negotiating directly or indirectly with Murdoch, but to only broadcast on cable would seriously reduce the number of subscribers able to watch the channel, and other technology is still very much on trial. For now Parry is keeping quiet about which platforms will be used for the channel: “We would like to be able to say more to fans at this stage as to how they will be able to get the new channel but, at the moment, discussions with broadcasters are ongoing and there are a number of details still to be worked out. As soon as we are in a position to release further details, we will do so.”

One other issue yet to be spoken about is cost. Football coverage in the UK is set to change for the new season with Setanta and Sky sharing the rights to live games, but Liverpool’s channel is unlikely to be able to show any first team games live other than friendly games. Unfortunately the fact that live football has been awarded to two separate companies means fans will have to pay for two separate subscriptions to see all the live Premiership games from then on. Adding on a subscription for an LFC TV channel showing only delayed coverage alongside interviews and classic games might be a little too much to ask of many supporters.

Continue reading LFC TV to launch this year

Without You – dedicated to the Hillsborough 96

We received this from Tracy Wilkinson this afternoon and felt it was very fitting to publish today. Thank you very much Tracy.


I thought I'd send you the poem I wrote just after Hillsborough. I was 14, and while it's not great it is from the heart – please feel free to use it if you wish.

Many Thanks,

Without You – dedicated to the Hillsborough 96.

Without you – Life's not worth Living
But still, we must live on

Without you it's hard to stand alone,
But still, we must stand on.

They watched you go, they waved you off as you went to the game.
Little did they know, their lives would never be the same.

The day it was a gorgeous one – so sunny and full of hope
The FA cup was in our reach, we knew our team would cope.

At five past three the horror started as the crowd began to push
We could see you trying to get out, all caught up in the crush

They finally began to realise as one by one you fell
We watched the news in disbelief, and saw you trapped in hell

They carried you onto the pitch but there was nothing they could do,
Some of you were never coming home, already this we knew

The tears flowed, the flowers came and Anfield turned to bloom,
The paper filled with tributes, for them all there wasn't room

There was no divide, citywide we all joined up together
Red and Blue, stood side by side, remembering forever.

Although some of us never spoke to you, we miss you even so
Although some of us didn't know you, we wanted you to know

This message comes deep from the heart with love and friendship too
To help your grieving families with the hurt they still go through.

They'll never see you at their door, or hear you on the phone
But one thing they can be sure of is 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

Continue reading Without You – dedicated to the Hillsborough 96

Never forget the ninety-six Reds

Today is the 18th Anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. 96 Liverpool fans died needlessley because of the events of that day.

Those 96 fans will never be forgotten, and their memory lives on even in our club badge, with its eternal flames either side of the Liverbird. The eternal flame itself goes on burning at the Anfield Road end of our ground, flanked by the names of those who lost their lives.

Today though we remember that awful day and those needless deaths more than ever. The club have a service of rememberance every year at the ground and this is always attended by the squad and the management team. This year there are readings from former chairman David Moores and vice-captain Jamie Carragher.

Rafa Benitez has sent a message to the families and friends of the lost ones: "We know this time of year is always especially difficult for those people who lost family and friends at Hillsborough. All we can say is that we are thinking of them and that we will all be at the service at Anfield this afternoon to support the people and to remember those who died."

Also spare a thought today for those who survived Hillsborough and still have to live with the awful memories of what they had to witness first hand.

The main thoughts for today go to the ninety-six who passed away. They will always be in our thoughts.

John Alfred Anderson, aged 62.
Thomas Howard, aged 39.
Colin Mark Ashcroft, aged 19.
Thomas Anthony Howard, aged 14.
James Gary Aspinall, aged 18.
Eric George Hughes, aged 42.
Kester Roger Marcus Ball, aged 16.
Alan Johnston, aged 29.
Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron, aged 67.
Christine Anne Jones, aged 27.
Simon Bell, aged 17.
Gary Philip Jones, aged 18.
Barry Sidney Bennett, aged 26.
Richard Jones, aged 25.
David John Benson, aged 22.
Nicholas Peter Joynes, aged 27.
David William Birtle, aged 22.
Anthony Peter Kelly, aged 29.
Tony Bland, aged 22.
Michael David Kelly, aged 38.
Paul David Brady, aged 21.
Carl David Lewis, aged 18.
Andrew Mark Brookes, aged 26.
David William Mather, aged 19.
Carl Brown, aged 18.
Brian Christopher Mathews, aged 38.
David Steven Brown, aged 25.
Francis Joseph McAllister, aged 27.
Henry Thomas Burke, aged 47.
John McBrien, aged 18.
Peter Andrew Burkett, aged 24.
Marion Hazel McCabe, aged 21.
Paul William Carlile, aged 19.
Joseph Daniel McCarthy, aged 21.
Raymond Thomas Chapman, aged 50.
Peter McDonnell, aged 21.
Gary Christopher Church, aged 19.
Alan McGlone, aged 28.
Joseph Clark, aged 29.
Keith McGrath, aged 17.
Paul Clark, aged 18.
Paul Brian Murray, aged 14.
Gary Collins, aged 22.
Lee Nicol, aged 14.
Stephen Paul Copoc, aged 20.
Stephen Francis O'Neill, aged 17.
Tracey Elizabeth Cox, aged 23.
Jonathon Owens, aged 18.
James Philip Delaney, aged 19.
William Roy Pemberton, aged 23.
Christopher Barry Devonside, aged 18.
Carl William Rimmer, aged 21.
Christopher Edwards, aged 29.
David George Rimmer, aged 38.
Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons, aged 34.
Graham John Roberts, aged 24.
Thomas Steven Fox, aged 21.
Steven Joseph Robinson, aged 17.
Jon-Paul Gilhooley, aged 10.
Henry Charles Rogers, aged 17.
Barry Glover, aged 27.
Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton, aged 23.
Ian Thomas Glover, aged 20.
Inger Shah, aged 38.
Derrick George Godwin, aged 24.
Paula Ann Smith, aged 26.
Roy Harry Hamilton, aged 34.
Adam Edward Spearritt, aged 14.
Philip Hammond, aged 14.
Philip John Steele, aged 15.
Eric Hankin, aged 33.
David Leonard Thomas, aged 23.
Gary Harrison, aged 27.
Patrik John Thompson, aged 35.
Stephen Francis Harrison, aged 31.
Peter Reuben Thompson, aged 30.
Peter Andrew Harrison, aged 15.
Stuart Paul William Thompson, aged 17.
David Hawley, aged 39.
Peter Francis Tootle, aged 21.
James Robert Hennessy, aged 29.
Christopher James Traynor, aged 26.
Paul Anthony Hewitson, aged 26.
Martin Kevin Traynor, aged 16.
Carl Darren Hewitt, aged 17.
Kevin Tyrrell, aged 15.
Nicholas Michael Hewitt, aged 16.
Colin Wafer, aged 19.
Sarah Louise Hicks, aged 19.
Ian David Whelan, aged 19.
Victoria Jane Hicks, aged 15.
Martin Kenneth Wild, aged 29.
Gordon Rodney Horn, aged 20.
Kevin Daniel Williams, aged 15.
Arthur Horrocks, aged 41.
Graham John Wright, aged 17.


Continue reading Never forget the ninety-six Reds

Result and Reaction: Man City 0 Liverpool 0

Barclays Premiership, Saturday April 14th 2007

Man City 0 Liverpool 0

Half-time: 0-0.

Man City: Isaksson, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Ball, Jihai, Vassell (Corradi, 82), Barton, Johnson, Beasley, Mpenza (Ireland, 62)
Unused subs: Weaver, Samaras, Trabelsi.
Booking: Barton 69.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Agger, Carragher, Arbeloa, Pennant (Crouch, 75), Alonso, Mascherano (Zenden, 85), Riise (Gonzalez, 65), Gerrard, Kuyt.
Unused subs: Dudek, Hyypia.
Bookings: Alonso 62, Finnan 63.

Referee: Uriah Rennie (S Yorkshire). 

Attendance: 45,883


Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez: "I'm disappointed with the result. We started the game well, we were moving the ball around and going forward and we had a number of clear chances. In football you need to take your chances and in the first half we had three or four. We dominated the possession in that first half but we needed to score a goal. Towards the end of the game we were under more pressure from long throws and free kicks but I don't think they made any clear opportunities. 

"We were talking before the game about the need to win this match. Now we have one point more but one game less to play. If we'd won today and then won our next match we could have been talking about Champions League qualification.
"We knew it could be a difficult game because of the Champions League semi-final and trying to keep the players focused will be the key. I don't think the Chelsea game had anything to do with it today. We know people will be talking about those matches and if we'd started as we finished the game today then maybe you could say we were thinking about the semi-final, but, as I said, we started well and just needed to score."
Manchester City assistant manager Steve Wigley: "I thought we were very worthy of a point, and apart from the maybe the first 20 minutes we contained Liverpool quite well.

"We set the players targets five games ago because we wanted to finish as high as possible in the league and we said that beating teams like Newcastle and Middlesbrough meant we could finish above them. Games against the likes of Liverpool are the bonus balls, you really have to make sure you keep things rolling along, which we managed to do.

"Obviously we would have liked to have scored, but I thought the supporters stuck with us throughout the game and they have realised how hard we have worked over the last five games. Back then we were everybody's cannon fodder, the other clubs would have thought we'd be dragged into it, but all of a sudden we have a bit of space."

"Over the last five games the players have bought into everything we have asked them to do, they developed a bit of a siege mentality, to work our way out of this and do it together. They have done that and been fantastic, whoever has come in the team has worked really, really hard.

"There were 45,000 people here today, the second biggest crowd in the country, and I thought they were fantastic. They realised they were playing against a good side, with the hard work over the last five games we have got our just rewards and it's only a matter of time before the ball starts hitting the back of the net."

Continue reading Result and Reaction: Man City 0 Liverpool 0

Crouch: He’s big and he’s definitely Red

Liverpool striker Peter Crouch has confirmed that he is most certainly not a Chelsea fan, and never has been. And what’s more his dad has become a Red since Peter joined the five-times Champions of Europe.

It’s no secret that Crouch’s dad was a Chelsea fan as Crouch was growing up, and that he also became a season ticket holder there. But that support didn’t stick for Crouch junior, who was more interested in one of Chelsea’s London rivals, QPR. After the quarter-final on Wednesday Crouch was asked about his dad’s support of Chelsea but some interpretations the next day put Crouch down as a Chelsea fan himself, which he’s not exactly happy about: “I was stitched up a bit with that!” he said.

Not all football supporters follow in their father’s footsteps in terms of who they support, and that’s how it was for the Liverpool striker: “When I was younger my dad did take me to see Chelsea, but when I was with my mates I was more a QPR fan, so it's not like I was ever a big Chelsea supporter.” He also points out that watching Chelsea at the time was quite unlike watching them today in their era of big-money transfers under Roman Abromovich: “You've also got to remember the Chelsea back then was nothing like the Chelsea it is now,” he says, “I remember going along there when they were in the old Second Division.”
Regardless of who Crouch supported as a child, he says it’s very clear where his – and his father’s – loyalties are these days: “Put it this way, there's no question where my allegiance is now. I'm firmly in the red camp. The same applies to my dad. He's been travelling to our European games with Jamie Carragher's dad and his friends, so you don't have to worry who he'll want to win.” Of course Jamie Carragher wasn’t a Red growing up either, but he soon learned to support the right team.

Continue reading Crouch: He’s big and he’s definitely Red

Chelsea not looking for revenge claims Lampard

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard claims the London side won't be going into the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool seeking revenge. Chelsea were knocked out by Liverpool in the 2005 semis before the Reds went on to pick up number five, and the goal that took them through still riles many at Chelsea to this day. Luis Garcia’s goal was awarded by the referee but no replays could confirm definitively whether it had crossed the line or not. Jose Mourinho still sulks about it to this day and no doubt many of his players do. Lampard insists that they aren’t bitter about it though: “Revenge is a silly thing to take into games because then you are not concentrating as you should be. What happened before doesn’t matter. All that matters is those two legs, winning and getting to the final.”

There will be many things said between now and the end of the tie between the two clubs, and if Jose Mourinho’s previous comments whenever the two sides have met are anything to go by, there’ll be a lot to laugh at too. Lampard perhaps sees that complaining so bitterly about what has already been written into the history books won’t help his club to get through, and seems intent on spreading the message that they must look forward, not back: “What matters is the history we make now. This season is about trying to win the Champions League and it will be the same for Liverpool. They won’t be thinking about what happened two years ago. They will be thinking about now.”

Lampard can look forward to a frosty reception for the second leg at Anfield, with chants about him being “fat” a certainty. Those chants will just be a small part of an atmosphere that will hopefully be as memorable for Liverpool fans as the one two years ago on the way to Istanbul. First of all though Liverpool must ensure they get a good result in the first leg at Stamford Bridge. Either way it seems certain that the whole 180 minutes of the two legs will be nail-biting moments, with both sides determined to beat their new rivals: “A Champions League semi-final is always a difficult game. We have a good squad, with very good players and I think you saw against Valencia that one of our strengths is fighting until the end. As the game went on we got stronger and stronger and we have to continue that.”

Both sides have hit form domestically recently, second-placed Chelsea gaining ground on Manchester United in the race for the league title and third-placed Liverpool pushing hard to ensure a top-four finish and a place in next season’s qualifiers. Lampard says Chelsea have to keep building on their recent performances: “We are in a good run in the league in England. We are playing very well and have got a lot of wins. Now we are in the semi-final of the Champions League and we have to keep on getting better. Every game for us now is huge and we cannot afford to lose one. We are either playing in a cup competition or in our league and we have to close the gap on Manchester United.”

Perhaps as a show of defiance that Chelsea won’t let the Anfield atmosphere get the better of them again Lampard spoke of the atmosphere in Spain in their quarter-final: “The atmosphere was very good at the Mestalla, so when you come through and win these sort of games it is the best feeling you can have. We had team spirit, quality and character. It is a very difficult place to come and to be a goal down at half-time, we had to show everything and we did that – we dominated in the second half.”

In 2005 there were numerous “omens” that were being discovered by Liverpool fans to compare to previous winning years in the competition, perhaps most memorably the death of the Pope that year. Many felt that Pope John Paul II was somehow helping out his compatriot Jerzy Dudek from above, especially for that save from current Chelsea player Andriy Shevchenko, then a Milan star. That particular omen isn’t looking likely to be repeated this year, and Manchester-based soap Coronation Street certainly won’t be helping out with a wedding for Ken and Dierdre. However the one big similarity to a previous winning year for Liverpool is the fact that not only is the semi-final between the two sides a repeat of 2005, but that year’s runners-up AC Milan are also semi-finalists. Liverpool went out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle that season too, and Chelsea will go into this tie as Carling Cup holders again.

Superstition plays a big part in football but Lampard says it all comes down to individuals’ and teams’ performances: “I don’t believe in destiny to be honest. No matter who you beat, if you don’t perform against Liverpool, then you are out.”

Continue reading Chelsea not looking for revenge claims Lampard

Reds v Chelsea: The mind games begin

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is still not over the fact that Luis Garcia’s shot in the 2005 semi-final at Anfield was awarded as a goal. Sky TV used a computer program at the time to “prove” it hadn’t crossed the line. A photo circulated on the internet later taken using a mobile phone, showing the ball was over the line. Sky don’t seem to use that computer any more. And the goal stood, taking Liverpool to the final, and that glorious night in Istanbul.

Now there’s going to be a repeat after Liverpool beat PSV 4-0 on aggregate, Peter Crouch’s goal last night added to the 3-0 result from the first leg. In fact three of the 2005 season’s four semi-finalists have reached the semis, including the other finalists from that season, AC Milan.

Jose Mourinho mentions Luis Garcia’s goal every time he mentions Liverpool. And he’ll be delighted that Luis – who had his name sung by the Anfield fans last night – won’t be able to play in the clashes this time round due to injury.

Mourinho was getting his excuses in early, starting the mind games as soon as his Chelsea side had managed to knock Rafa’s old side Valencia out of the quarter finals on Tuesday night. He said: “Revenge is not for me, not in life or in football.” It’s doubtful that anyone actually believed him. He also seemed to forget that Liverpool have to keep winning in the league to ensure a top-four finish: “We start from behind as Liverpool are only playing for the Champions League and we are playing for the Champions League, the FA Cup and the Premiership. We have injuries and suspensions, but Liverpool have clean health.” He’s forgotten about his friend Luis Garcia too.

Continue reading Reds v Chelsea: The mind games begin

Reds cautious over PSV

Liverpool play PSV Eindhoven at Anfield tonight in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals with most observers firmly believing the match is nothing more than a formality. Inside Anfield though the watchword is “caution”. Liverpool have a 3-0 lead from the first leg, and it would take a pretty memorable performance for the Dutch side to progress, but nobody at Anfield is assuming anything.

Liverpool won the Champions League two years ago for the fifth time. At half-time in that match they trailed 3-0, and a win never looked on the cards. They started the second half playing for pride but did so much more than that. This tie is at the half-way point and the score is 3-0 – so Liverpool will not relax.

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina is one of many voices at the club saying that the players must be professional tonight, and must show respect to their opponents: “We know what we are playing for and we know what it means to get to the final, and even more importantly, what to do to win it. We’ve already taken a big step forward, but we must also be very respectful of PSV Eindhoven because there’s still one more game to play.”

Reina points out that if Liverpool were capable of such a good result in Holland there’s no reason why PSV can’t do the same in England: “People say it’s impossible to win 3-0 away from home in Champions League, but we did it. If we are capable of winning 3-0 away, PSV Eindhoven are also capable of winning 3-0 at Anfield. This is the approach we must take and continue to work hard for the right result in the second leg.”

Liverpool will have played PSV four times this season by the time the game ends tonight, having also had PSV in their group at the start of the competition. Reina says the Liverpool side which won in Eindhoven last week was quite different to the one that travelled there before Christmas: “There was a big difference between the Liverpool who played in Eindhoven earlier in the season and the side which won there in the first leg. At the start of the season everyone knows we had some problems, but now we are a team which is going up in form, and maybe this was not a good moment of the season for PSV to play us. I hope it’s the case that it’s not a good time for any team to play us.”

As other teams are starting to hit problems with injury, Liverpool have been much more fortunate – but some of that may well be down to Rafa’s rotation policy ensuring players are used carefully over the course of a season. One victim of injury was Fabio Aurelio who saw his season come to an early end after suffering an Achilles injury in that first leg last week. Pepe had Fabio in his thoughts: “It was a good night in Eindhoven and the only pain in the arse for us was the injury to Fabio Aurelio, which upset all of us. We now hope we will be in Greece for him. If we can win the Champions League, many of us will be thinking of him and feeling sorry he won’t be able to share the experience.”

Many have tried to play down Liverpool’s performance last week due to PSV’s injury problems, but Reina doesn’t feel that is significant: “People have talked about the problems PSV have, but we’re also very proud of the performance we have made to win 3-0. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or what problems an opponent has, to get that kind of result in the quarter-finals of the Champions League is a magnificent achievement and never easy. You have to play really well, show the right attitude and be at your best. We should take as much satisfaction from winning 3-0 in Eindhoven as we did beating Barcelona.”

Reina also pointed out that any team making it to the quarter finals are to be respected: “Of course, people will say Barcelona was more difficult, but a quarter final is even more important and PSV have surprised a lot of strong teams in the competition.”

Reina is hopeful that what helped Liverpool win the first leg helps them win the game tonight too. Liverpool went out looking to score because they knew that would mean PSV would have to play a more attacking game than they normally like to, and of course they can’t sit back tonight either: “Tactically, we knew if we scored first against PSV things would change a lot. When the moment came, it was another game. Now they know they must attack us at Anfield and it obviously makes things a lot more helpful to us, knowing exactly how they must play and preparing in the right way for this.”

Reina expects PSV’s approach to suit Liverpool: “We are also a team which can play very well on the counter-attack, and with the score so much in our favour, clearly things should be easier for us. They will have to take a lot of risks.”

Although Reina knows PSV must first be finished off, before yet another semi-final against Chelsea, he is dreaming of making it all the way to Athens: “I was new to the club when we last won the Champions League. To now be a few steps away from another final, which would be the first for me, is really exciting. Day by day it becomes closer and that’s when we start to dream.”

Reina’s compatriot Xabi Alonso was of course involved in the club’s last Champions League final, and knows full well how 3-0 scorelines can be turned around. He refuses to accept the club are into the next round and the semi against Chelsea: “Of course we're really happy with the result we had in Eindhoven, but you must always remember there's still one game to play and in football anything is possible. We know this from our own experiences. I know what everyone else is saying about the situation, but as players we can't think we're in the semi-final yet. We must be professional and try to do the same at Anfield as we did in the first leg.”

The players are clearly spreading the words of their boss, who also says they mustn’t be complacent. Rafa Benítez says: “There have been comebacks from 3-0 down in the Champions League – we did it the 2005 final in Istanbul. These kinds of games are difficult. Sometimes teams say ‘Okay, the job is done’, but we have to be careful.”

Rafa feels that PSV could make the game very nervy if things go their way soon enough in the game: “We know if they score an early goal they will push forward and we could have problems. We must approach the game the same as we did against Barcelona and try to win. We do not go into the game thinking a draw will be enough. We need to go for a win.”

Rafa wants a win tonight of course, and if he gets that he wants it to be followed by wins in the league so that the semi-final can be a priority: “Hopefully we will reach the semi-final of the Champions League and I hope we can be sure we are in the top four so we can concentrate on that.”

It’s not just Liverpool who are saying this result could be overturned – PSV’s skipper Phillip Cocu says his team must fight and see if they can cause an upset: “We need more than a miracle to beat Liverpool and reach the semi-finals but we are not going to England just for a holiday. It is obvious that in Eindhoven they were the better side, but I thought the 3-0 scoreline was harsh. We had some chances to score but we didn't take them.”
Just as Liverpool went out for the second half in Istanbul playing for pride, so are PSV for tonight’s second leg: “We are not going to throw this game because we are playing for pride and we don't want it to be ridiculous. Any kind of win at Anfield would leave a good taste in our mouths, so we will try to score a goal and see what happens.”

Continue reading Reds cautious over PSV