Ahead of Liverpool FC's UEFA Europa League second leg against SC Braga, manager Kenny Dalglish believes home advantage will help turn the round of 16 tie in his side's favour following their 1-0 loss in Portugal, saying: "Anfield is always an advantage for us."
Liverpool trail to Alan's 18th-minute penalty in Braga but Dalglish insists the famous Anfield roar can salvage his club's European campaign. "Even though we're one down, the fans can help us turn things around, but it's mainly up to us to help ourselves," said the 60-year-old. "We need to start much better than in the first leg. We want to be in European competition next year and to do that we need to win matches, starting tomorrow. European football and this club are synonymous and we want it to continue."
Despite the visitors' aggregate lead, Dalglish does not expect Braga, who have already beaten Sevilla FC, Celtic FC and Arsenal FC this season, to approach Thursday's game with caution. "I didn't think Braga were defensive [last week] and I'd expect them to play pretty much the same way," he said. "It seems to be their style home or away. They were better than us, but we were disappointed as we think we can play much better."
Midfielder Jay Spearing, who has made seven UEFA Europa League appearances this term, also stressed how much reaching the quarter-finals means to Liverpool. "This is a massive competition for us, especially with us being out the League Cup and the FA Cup. Braga showed they're a very attacking team, but in the second half we showed we can cause them problems, particularly when Andy Carroll came on and starting winning a lot of balls."
"I'm pleased with everything Andy's done so far, the way he's recovered from injury, trained and gone about things when on the pitch," said Dalglish of his recently signed centre-forward. "The most important thing is that he's fit and well. I'll either start with him or he'll come on second half, depending how he does in training."
Centre-back Daniel Agger is also back in training and rated the most likely of several injured players – Jonjo Shelvey, Martin Kelly and Fábio Aurélio – to feature. Dalglish added that unavailable captain Steven Gerrard "feels good" after groin surgery.
Braga skipper Vandinho, meanwhile, has been out since 13 February with a thigh problem yet figures in coach Domingos Paciência's 18-man squad. Defender Kaká and forward Alan also travel to England despite respective thigh and abdominal injuries, although Custódio and Elderson, who missed the first leg with thigh complaints, remain sidelined.
Midfielder Hugo Viana, for one, is excited about experiencing Anfield on a European night, with the ex-Newcastle United FC man confident his team will rise to the occasion. "We know the match at Anfield will be completely different and it's a very difficult stadium, but it's also the kind of venue and atmosphere which motivates every player," said Viana. "I think we have what it takes to handle the pressure and reach the last eight."
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