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Improving Reds face Spanish test

Published: Monday 18 October 2004, 21.45CET
The signs are good for both Liverpool FC and RC Deportivo La Coruña as they prepare to meet at Anfield.
Published: Monday 18 October 2004, 21.45CET

Improving Reds face Spanish test

The signs are good for both Liverpool FC and RC Deportivo La Coruña as they prepare to meet at Anfield.

By Jonathan Caswell in Liverpool

Liverpool FC will have been boosted by the manner of their victory against Fulham FC on Saturday, as they prepare for Tuesday night's UEFA Champions League encounter with RC Deportivo La Coruña.

Hoodoo ended
The Reds were 2-0 down and playing poorly, but four goals in the second half reflected an improved attitude and brought an end to a worrying statistic: it was the first time in 13 years that they had won an away match after trailing at half-time. With their first away success of the season secured, they return to Anfield to face a Deportivo side who gained their first home win of 2004/05 at the weekend, 2-1 against Getafe CF.

Disappointing start
Deportivo have, by their recent high standards, made a disappointing start to the season, taking only one point from two Group A games and remaining scoreless. Their Primera División results include a 5-1 home defeat by Valencia CF, coincidentally Rafael Benítez's old club, but the Liverpool manager knows better than to underestimate the Galicians.

'Both need to win'
He said: "I have seen Deportivo this season and they are a big team. We know it will be difficult, but we are playing at Anfield and we have confidence in ourselves. Perhaps they have had problems, but they have been missing [Aldo] Duscher and [Mauro] Silva at the same time and they are very, very important players for them and it is probably the reason they haven't been playing well. It would be wrong to say I'm worried, but we are concerned about stopping them playing and stopping them getting the result they need."

Against the odds
The Champions League has certainly inspired Deportivo to overcome the odds before. They once beat Paris Saint-Germain FC 4-3 after being 3-0 down, and then famously beat AC Milan 4-0 in last season's quarter-finals after trailing 4-1 from the first leg. Indeed their progress to the semi-finals followed a record defeat in the group stage, 8-3 at AS Monaco FC.

High tempo
Liverpool's newly established Spanish connections mean Deportivo are unlikely to hold too many surprises. Spain midfield player Xabi Alonso, who came off the bench to inspire their comeback on Saturday, said the Merseysiders would have to play at a "higher tempo" than their opponents. "We know they like to keep the ball and slow the game down, and we will have to play at a higher tempo to stop their players getting comfortable on the ball and playing in the way they can," he said.

Hard work required
Deportivo coach Irureta, meanwhile, has warned his players they will need to "work flat out" to get a result. "We have to learn to be humble and to be prepared to work flat out for 90 minutes. No one is going to gift us a victory. We needed the win [against Getafe] and we will need our morale against Liverpool, who are strong in football terms and also financially."

Mauro Silva back
With Sergio González suspended, it will be a relief to Irureta to have Mauro Silva back at Anfield. The veteran was on the bench against Getafe but should figure alongside Duscher. Striker Diego Tristán is available too, having made his first appearance of the season on Saturday as a late substitute.

Duo return
As for Liverpool, Benítez has winger Harry Kewell and full-back Steve Finnan back, after they both missed the Fulham trip because of ankle and stomach problems respectively. After losing on Matchday 2 - as did Deportivo - Benítez noted neither side could afford another slip-up: "We both need to win tomorrow night."

Last updated: 22/11/04 15.15CET

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