Teams: Reds v Marseille

Champions League Group A – 3rd October 2007

Liverpool number nine Fernando Torres starts another game for Liverpool tonight, but there’s no place for former Liverpool number nine Djibril Cissé in the Marseille line-up.

Rafa Benitez has chosen Crouch and Torres up front, with Leto making a start in midfield, along with Sissoko, Benayoun and captain Steven Gerrard. Finnan and Aurelio will start as full-backs tonight either side of Hyypia and Carragher, meaning that Arbeloa finally gets a rest.

The luxury of seven subs in Europe means Rafa has chosen both Kuyt and Voronin for the bench.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Aurelio, Carragher, Hyypia, Sissoko, Gerrard, Benayoun, Leto, Torres, Crouch.
Subs: Riise, Voronin, Arbeloa, Kuyt, Babel, Itandje, Mascherano.

Marseille: Mandanda, Bonnart, Rodriguez, Givet, Taiwo, Cana, Cheyrou, Valbuena, Ziani, Zenden, Niang
Subs: Hamel, Oruma, Cisse, Arrache, Zubar, M’Bami, Moussilou

Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria)

Hyypia looking forward to Cissé reunion

Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia is full of respect for former team-mate Djibril Cissé. The Finnish defender is getting an extended run in the side at the moment with Daniel Agger missing due to a broken metatarsal, and the French striker is making a return to Anfield tonight with his new club Marseille.

Hyypia recalls how they would have some minor tussles on the Melwood training ground, but says that both of them will obviously be playing in a slightly more competitive way against each other tonight: “In training we had some good battles, but of course in training you can’t play as you would in a game. For ninety minutes tomorrow we will forget the friendship and both of us will try to do our best for our teams – I think we know each other quite well, but I can’t say it’s a good thing that I know his game, because he knows mine as well!” Continue reading Hyypia looking forward to Cissé reunion

Rafa wants strikers ready when he needs them

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres may already know if he’s to get a starting role against Marseille tonight, but nobody outside the club will know until just before kick-off. Torres has been left out of the eleven for some games of late with Rafa saying he didn’t feel the £18m buy could be as effective against a deep-lying defence, such as that employed by Birmingham in the recent 0-0 at Anfield.

Torres is fully able to accept his role at the club, and is willing to sit out some games. He said: “We players have to adapt to systems, rather than systems being adapted to suit the players. The manager will decide who plays depending on what he needs in each game. The players who do best are the ones who win a place.”

The Spaniard was made captain at Atletico at a tender age and says he was prepared for the challenge of playing for the Reds: “I’m playing with pressure and responsibility. I’m used to it.” Continue reading Rafa wants strikers ready when he needs them

CL: Porto 1 Liverpool 1

UEFA Champions League, Group A. September 19 2007

Porto 1 Liverpool 1

Porto: 33 Nuno, 2 Bruno Alves, 6 Paulo Assuncao, 7 Quaresma, 8 Gonzalez, 9 Lopez, 12 Bosingwa, 13 Fucile, 14 Joao Paulo, 16 Raul Meireles (19 Farias, 64), 17 Sektioui (11 Gonzalez, 64)
Unused subs: 24 Ventura, 4 Stepanov, 5 Cech, 18 Bolatti, 25 Kazmierczak
Bookings: Bosingwa 9
Goal: Gonzalez 8 (pen)

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 4 Hyypia, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 16 Pennant, 20 Mascherano, 8 Gerrard, 19 Babel (12 Aurelio, 85), 9 Torres (10 Voronin, 76), 18 Kuyt
Unused subs: 30 Itandje, 5 Agger, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch, 21 Lucas
Pennant 26, Torres 73, Kuyt 75, Mascherano 90
Sent off: Pennant 58
Goal: Kuyt 17

Stats: (Porto – Liverpool)
Possession: 50% – 50%
Shots on target: 3 – 2
Shots off target: 5 – 0
Corners: 11 – 1
Fouls: 14 – 21

Referee: Lubos Michel
Attendance: 41,208


Reds boss Rafa Benitez: “We were really very bad in that first half, there are no excuses. We gave the ball away too easily and made too many mistakes. But the second half was much better. We needed to show real character and that is what we achieved: We were more organised, there was an excellent workrate and there were positives to be drawn from the second-half performance. We were playing against a good side and we have no complaints about the result.

“I have no complaints about the (red card) decision. It was correct. Hopefully Jermaine will learn from this experience. Maybe it will produce something positive for the future, the tackle in that position was just not needed. It is difficult to understand why he did it, we had talked to him about staying on his feet and not making rash challenges – we were even talking on the bench about taking him off, but we just did not get the time to do it.

“We started very, very badly and it is hard to explain why because our build-up and preparation had been good. It was easier to do the right things in the second period, but the damage had been done. We gave the ball away far too easily, we conceded clear chances and gave away a penalty that was also a correct decision.”

Liverpool scorer Dirk Kuyt: “He (Pennant) was unlucky. He tried to do his best and maybe it was a bit too much, but we were pleased because we played 30 minutes with 10 men. We didn’t play well in the first half and I felt unlucky with the red card.

“In that first half we had problems passing. We tried to do it better in the second period and we worked really hard. With a bit of luck we could have won, but Porto are a really strong team and at least we didn’t lose. If we can beat them at home we will be okay in this group.”

Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira: “We were the superior side right throughout the game. It was difficult to play against 10 men when they had a man sent off. Even then it was very difficult against a side of Liverpool’s quality.

“Beforehand we would have looked at the game and said a draw would have been acceptable. But when we look back at the match we will know that we should have won. If you look at the game as a whole we just could not break down their defence, they were tough at the back and even with just 10 men they were quick and strong against us and we ran out of ideas.”