Liverpool face Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa - 1-0 winners against Australian representatives Sydney FC - in a semi-final on Thursday on the back of a ten-match unbeaten run. Rafael Benítez's side tied a club record of ten successive clean sheets in Saturday's 2-0 victory against Middlesbrough FC - a stretch of more than 15 hours without conceding a goal. "We've got exciting players going forward and a really mean defence," said Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. "We're improving a lot. I think the next few years will be really exciting for this Liverpool team."
If Liverpool's defence stands firm in Yokohama on Thursday, the Merseyside club will surpass Kenny Dalglish's title-winning side of 1987/88. Defender Jamie Carragher, however, said the class of 2005 had not yet earned the right to be compared to the great Liverpool teams of the 1970s and 1980s. "Records are nice but those Liverpool teams were winning [English] championships," said Carragher. "They were a lot more successful. The aim of everyone at this club is to be as successful in the future."
Liverpool became champions of Europe for a fifth time in May but they have not won the English title since 1990. Carragher's central defensive partner Sami Hyypiä also played down the significance of Liverpool's record bid. "It's always nice when people talk about records and if we break it, fine," said the Finn. "But the main thing is to win games. We've come a long way and it would be a pity to leave Japan without the trophy."
Gerrard added: "We're looking forward to the games rather than worrying about them. In 24 hours we'll be used to the time difference and ready to go in the first game on Thursday." South American champions São Paulo FC also received a first-round bye and will play Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia in Wednesday's first semi-final. The final takes place in Yokohama on 18 December.
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