Rafael Benítez hopes Fernando Torres can take a leaf out of Lionel Messi's book as Liverpool FC welcome SL Benfica to Anfield bidding to overturn a 2-1 quarter-final deficit in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
Messi scored four times in a 4-1 win at the Camp Nou on Tuesday to catapult FC Barcelona into the last four of the UEFA Champions League, and Benítez hopes his Spanish striker could prove just as decisive at Anfield on Thursday night and earn a semi-final place in another European competition. "Messi is a fantastic player," said the Reds manager. "Hopefully Fernando can do the same."
With defenders Martin Škrtel (metatarsal), Fábio Aurelio (thigh) and Martin Kelly (knee) all injured and Ryan Babel and Emiliano Insúa suspended, Benítez said his side had been testing out "different combinations of players" in the run-up to the visit of the Portuguese Liga leaders, which could be the key to Liverpool's season given that their chances of qualifying for Europe via the Premier League are very much in the balance. "I view this competition as an opportunity to win silverware, which will be important for everyone here, the fans and the club," explained Benítez.
Benfica eliminated Liverpool in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League first knockout round, winning 1-0 in Lisbon and then 2-0 at Anfield, but Benítez promised lightning will not strike twice. "This time we have scored an away goal and we have a better squad so hopefully things will turn out differently," he said.
Forwards Javier Saviola (toe) and Weldon (foot) miss out for Benfica, while left-back César Peixoto has yet to entirely shake off a knee injury. Coach Jorge Jesus said: "We're a very good team and so are Liverpool so I hope it's an excellent game. That said, we're not used to teams really going at us, as in Portugal that doesn't happen much. We have to hold firm and try not to concede possession too much."
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