Reds Champions League dates announced

The dates for Liverpool’s Champions League Group A fixtures have now been confirmed. They will start and end the group stage away from home, with a trip to Portugual in two-and-a-half weeks getting the campaign going, and a trip to France closing the group in December. The other away trip is on October 24th to Turkey.

Tue Sep 18th: Porto A
Wed Oct 3rd: Marseille H
Wed Oct 24th: Besiktas A
Tue Nov 6th: Besiktas H
Wed Nov 28th: Porto H
Tue Dec 11th: Marseille A

CL Draw: Reds face trips to Portugal, France and Turkey

The draw for the Champions League took place this evening in Monaco and saw Liverpool paired with opposition from Portugal, France and Turkey.

Liverpool were seeded and drawn in Group A along with Porto, Marseilles and Besiktas. Marseilles squad features former Liverpool players Bolo Zenden and Djibril Cisse.

Speaking about the draw, Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez said it wasn’t the easiest draw: “It’s clear when you look at some of the other groups that ours could have been easier: Porto have good experience in the Champions League and have enjoyed a good record over recent seasons. They will be tough opposition for us. Marseille are a good side in the French league and they will know a lot about us which could make it more difficult, and you always know when you go to Turkey that it will be hard because of the travelling involved and the wonderful support they give their teams over there.”

He continued: “I am always confident we can qualify but as ever the key will be winning the home games and picking up results away.”

CL Qualifier: Liverpool 4 Toulouse 0

UEFA Champions League Qualifier, 2nd Leg – August 28th 2007

Liverpool 4 Toulouse 0 (Agg: 5-0)

Liverpool booked their place in the Champions League proper with a stroll past a Toulouse side who started brightly but seemed to give up after Crouch had opened the scoring on the night to make it 2-0 on aggregate. A goal from Sami Hyypia just after half-time turned the game into little more than a training exercise, rounded off with two goals in the last few minutes from Dirk Kuyt. Continue reading CL Qualifier: Liverpool 4 Toulouse 0

CL Qual: Leto makes debut against Toulouse

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has handed a debut to Sebastian Leto for tonight’s Champions League qualifier with Toulouse at Anfield. Liverpool lead 1-0 from the first leg and will be looking to Leto and Benayoun to provide service from the wings to tonight’s forwards, Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt. As expected, Sami Hyypia will partner Daniel Agger in central defence, with Alvaro Arbeloa making a rare start at right-back, allowing Steve Finnan a rest. If the game goes Liverpool’s way there may be an opportunity for Lucas Leiva to make an appearance from the bench. Mascherano is back in the starting line-up for tonight’s important match. Continue reading CL Qual: Leto makes debut against Toulouse

Carra: I’ll be back in two weeks

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has played down his cracked rib and pneumothorax to declare that he’ll not be out for more than two weeks. Carra was injured during a collision with goalkeeper Pepe Reina in Saturday’s defeat of Sunderland. His cracked rib was discovered on Saturday but on Sunday he started to have problems with his breathing and went for more checks at hospital. That’s when the pneumothorax was discovered – a condition that sees air forced into a cavity between the lung and the chest and causes the lung to collapse. He was kept in hospital overnight but hopes to be allowed home today, test results permitting.

He spoke from hospital to local journalist Chris Bascombe of the Liverpool Echo, saying, “Because of the international break, I’m hoping to only miss the next two matches.” He’ll miss the game tomorrow against Toulouse and Saturday’s visit of Derby County, but then Liverpool get two weeks off, not playing again until they visit Portsmouth on September 15th.  Assuming they are successful tomorrow against Toulouse the Reds will be commencing their Champions League group stages on the Tuesday or Wednesday after. Continue reading Carra: I’ll be back in two weeks

Carra has broken rib and pneumothorax

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher did break a rib in yesterday’s win over Sunderland – and he also developed a pneumothorax. The club confirmed the news this afternoon, also confirming that fellow centre-back Sami Hyypia had broken his nose.

A pneumothorax is a condition where air enters the space in a protective membrane between the lungs and the chest. This air causes the lung to collapse and as well as being painful will make breathing difficult. The type Carra has commonly occurs after broken ribs and often also after being stabbed. It sometimes requires a chest drain to be inserted to remove the air. The club were unable to say how long Carra will be out. No mention was made of how he was feeling, but although he’s still in hospital at the moment that was just for observation and he isn’t expected to need any more treatment.

Speaking today, club spokesman Ian Cotton said: “Sami has a broken nose but will be available for the second leg of our Champions League qualifier. Jamie underwent a series of investigations on Sunday morning which confirmed he has a broken rib and has also developed a pneumothorax. He will continue to be monitored on Sunday but at this stage no further treatment will be required.”

Prem result / reaction: Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2

Barclays Premier League – August 25th 2007.

Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool ended their 2-0 win over Sunderland with two of their three recognised central defenders injured. Sami Hyypia was replaced after 15 minutes following an earlier injury to his nose which would not stop bleeding, and was causing blurred vision: it was later confirmed to be a broken nose. Sami may still have to play on Tuesday despite the injury, after his fellow centre-back Jamie Carragher went off injured too. In Carra’s case it seems more serious, a rib injury caused accidentally by the knee of Pepe Reina. There is still no official news from the club as to whether the ribs were broken or bruised, or how long he’s set to be out for – but it could be as much as six weeks. Continue reading Prem result / reaction: Sunderland 0 Liverpool 2

Heinze to join Real Madrid

Tonight it seems the fun and games surrounding Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze’s wishes to leave Old Trafford have come to an end, with the player reported to have signed a deal with one of United’s Champions League rivals Real Madrid for £5.5m.

Heinze was told he could leave United this summer as long as a club came up with a bid of €10m. Liverpool did come up with such a bid, but this was turned down with United claiming they don’t sell to rivals. Having sold Juan Sebastian Veron to Chelsea fairly recently that is clearly not true, and unless United do not consider the Champions League important then they must see that Real Madrid are also rivals. Continue reading Heinze to join Real Madrid

Agent: Yossi will move if not used enough

Football agents don’t always act in their clients’ best interests, and it looks like Yossi Benayoun’s is the latest one to speak out in a way that could be damaging for his player.

Rafa Benítez has a reputation for rotating his players, and this summer he took steps to ensure he had at least two decent-quality players for every position. When the games are coming thick and fast the changes will be more apparent than ever as Rafa tries to ensure that the eleven players on the pitch at any one time are as close to 100% fit as possible. In quieter times his selection will be based on a mixture of how well a player has been performing, and which players he feels are best suited to the opposition. Nobody, perhaps except the goalkeeper Pepe Reina, can expect to start all the major games.

That rule applies to the more expensive signings like Fernando Torres and the longer-established players like Steven Gerrard. So Yossi Benayoun has quite a disappointment in store if he thinks he’ll be starting every game.

His agent – Ronan Katzav -has made the mistake of giving Rafa an ultimatum: Play Yossi or he’ll be leaving. Rafa’s answer is likely to be along the lines of ‘Shut up or he’ll be leaving anyway.’ Continue reading Agent: Yossi will move if not used enough

Heinze to appeal as Rafa queries PL decisions

The attempts by Manchester United’s Gabriel Heinze to move away from Old Trafford and become part of Rafa Benítez’s Anfield squad could well have opened up quite a can of worms at the Premier League.

The short version of the story is that with two years left on his contract, no doubt on quite high wages and no longer first choice, Gabriel Heinze wasn’t really wanted at Old Trafford. As a result, Manchester United’s chief executive, David Gill faxed his agent to say that he could leave the club for a fee of €10m.  That’s the reason the strange figure of £6.8m sterling has always been quoted as the effective release fee. However Manchester United just assumed that the Argentinean’s agent would know that any club but Liverpool were acceptable as purchasers of their unwanted player.

That’s where it went wrong.  A desperate United board had to try and stop their most-hated rivals, the team that may just be becoming their biggest threat, from signing the player that they didn’t really want themselves. It clearly wasn’t a matter of them being worried that the player might help their rivals to overtake them in the title race, it was purely down to the deep-seated hatred felt by a manager who, well-past his retirement age, still throws toddler-style temper tantrums when he can’t get his own way. Ask the BBC why Ferguson refuses to speak to them. If you can, ask Manchester United why they sold Juan Sebastian Veron to the team that has won the title twice in the last three years. United’s claim that they don’t sell to Premiership rivals seems a little hollow in the light of that forgotten fact. Continue reading Heinze to appeal as Rafa queries PL decisions