Olympique de Marseille open their Group D campaign with a home meeting against Liverpool FC, the team that extinguished their hopes last term by plundering an emphatic win in the same venue on Matchday 6.
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Olympique de Marseille open their UEFA Champions League Group D campaign against the team who ended their interest in last season's competition on Matchday 6. The Ligue 1 side suffered a 4-0 loss to Liverpool FC at the Stade Vélodrome on 11 December last year but they now have the opportunity to avenge that defeat, their heaviest at home in European competition.
• Five-times winners Liverpool, for their part, will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the start they made to the group stage 12 months ago when they collected just a point from their opening three fixtures, which included a 1-0 home defeat by Marseille.
• The Premier League club will hope to continue their impressive record in the tournament under Rafael Benítez. Following the Spaniard's arrival at Anfield in 2004, Liverpool won the European crown in 2005, finished runners-up in 2007 and reached the last four in 2008.
• Liverpool finished second in their group last term with a record of W3 D1 L2. They then defeated FC Internazionale Milano and Arsenal FC en route to the semi-finals, where they succumbed 4-3 on aggregate to Chelsea FC.
• Marseille's fortunes in the competition were the direct opposite: after taking seven points from the first three games, they then lost the next three to slip down to third place in the group. Erik Gerets' men therefore entered the UEFA Cup where they overcame FC Spartak Moskva before succumbing to eventual winners FC Zenit St. Petersburg on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw.
• Mathieu Valbuena's 77th-minute goal decided the teams' meeting at Anfield on 3 October last year, in what was Gerets' first game at the Marseille helm.
• The lineups for the match were:
Liverpool: Pepe Reina, Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypiä, Fábio Aurélio (Andriy Voronin), Yossi Benayoun, Mohamed Sissoko, Steven Gerrard, Sebastian Leto (John Arne Riise), Fernando Torres, Peter Crouch (Dirk Kuyt).
Marseille: Steve Mandanda, Laurent Bonnart, Julien Rodriguez, Gaël Givet, Taye Taiwo, Lorik Cana, Benoît Cheyrou, Mathieu Valbuena (Wilson Oruma), Karim Ziani, Boudewijn Zenden (Salim Arrache), Mamadou Niang (Djibril Cissé).
• Steven Gerrard (4), Fernando Torres (11), Dirk Kuyt (48) and Ryan Babel (90+1) all found the net when Liverpool secured their place in the last 16 at Marseille's expense on 11 December last year.
• The lineups that evening were:
Marseille: Steve Mandanda, Laurent Bonnart, Julien Rodriguez, Gaël Givet (Jacques Faty), Taye Taiwo, Lorik Cana, Benoît Cheyrou (Samir Nasri), Karim Ziani, Mathieu Valbuena, Boudewijn Zenden, Mamadou Niang.
Liverpool: Pepe Reina, Álvaro Arbeloa, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypiä, John Arne Riise, Yossi Benayoun, Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Harry Kewell (Fábio Aurélio), Dirk Kuyt (Lucas Leiva), Fernando Torres (Ryan Babel).
• Marseille finished third in Ligue 1 last term and booked their place in the group stage by beating Norway's SK Brann in the third qualifying round. Benoît Cheyrou's 40th-minute goal earned Marseille a 1-0 first-leg victory in Bergen and OM made sure of their progress with a 2-1 win on home soil courtesy of two Mamadou Niang strikes (65, 90).
• Fourth in the Premier League last season, Liverpool defeated Belgian champions R. Standard de Liège 1-0 on aggregate in the third qualifying round, Dirk Kuyt's goal deciding a tense second leg at Anfield two minutes from the end of extra time.
• Marseille's defeat by Liverpool last December was their first home reverse against English opposition. The 1993 European champions had won all six previous matches against English visitors at the Stade Vélodrome, including a 2-1 success against Liverpool in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup fourth round.
• The teams for that match, which secured a 3-2 aggregate success for the French side, were:
Marseille: Fabien Barthez, Demetrius Ferreira, Manuel Dos Santos, Adboulaye Méïté, Habib Beye, Mathieu Flamini, Brahim Hemdani, Sylvain N'Diaye, Laurent Batlles (Mido), Didier Drogba, Steve Marlet (Camel Meriem).
Liverpool: Jerzy Dudek, Igor Bišcan, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypiä, John Arne Riise, Harry Kewell (Florent Sinama-Pongolle), Dietmar Hamann, Steven Gerrard, Danny Murphy (Bruno Cheyrou), Michael Owen (Milan Baroš), Emile Heskey.
• Marseille went on to reach the final that season where they lost 2-0 to a Valencia CF team coached by current Liverpool manager Benítez.
• Liverpool's victory at Marseille last term was their third in a row on cross-Channel trips following 1-0 wins at FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the 2006/07 group stage and at Toulouse FC in the third qualifying round in 2007/08. These recent successes in France contrast markedly with their previous record: pre-Benítez, they had recorded one win and six defeats in seven visits.
• Marseille coach Gerets led former club Galatasaray AŞ to a 3-2 home win against Liverpool in their final game of the 2006/07 group stage. However, the Turkish team were already consigned to elimination at that point, having earlier lost by the same scoreline at Anfield.
• Marseille midfielder Cheyrou's brother Bruno had a two-year spell at Anfield between 2002 and 2004.
• The French club's Dutch midfielder Boudewijn Zenden spent the 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons with Liverpool, making his final appearance in the 2007 UEFA Champions League final defeat by AC Milan.
• Liverpool forward Torres scored the goal that won Spain the UEFA EURO 2008™ final against Germany in June. Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina and defender Álvaro Arbeloa were also in the triumphant Spanish squad.
• The other opening Group D fixture pits PSV Eindhoven against Club Atlético de Madrid.