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Stevens urges PSV to 'go for it'

In order to remain in Europe beyond Christmas, PSV Eindhoven have to secure at least a draw at home to Liverpool FC and also hope things go their way in Marseille. "We have to go for it," said coach Huub Stevens.

PSV coach Huub Stevens
PSV coach Huub Stevens ©Getty Images

To remain in Europe beyond Christmas, PSV Eindhoven must secure at least a draw when they take on five-time European champions Liverpool FC on Tuesday and also hope things go their way in Marseille.

Nail-biting evening
PSV, bottom of Group D, need to better Olympique de Marseille's result against Club Atlético de Madrid in order to leapfrog the French club and secure third place and the consolation of a berth in the UEFA Cup. Coach Huub Stevens knows it is likely to be a nail-biting evening because the Dutch titleholders "don't even know if we have to win to progress". He added: "We'll just have to see how things develop. We have a minimal chance of going through, but we have to go for it."

Stirring comeback
When asked how he would keep abreast of developments at the Stade Vélodrome, he held up his mobile phone. "Who knows, maybe Erik will give me a call, or I'll call him!" Erik being Gerets, the OM coach and former team-mate of Stevens in Eindhoven. The home team trail Eredivisie leaders AZ Alkmaar by seven points, but can take heart from a stirring comeback on Saturday when they overturned a 2-0 half-time deficit to run out 4-2 winners against FC Groningen. Otman Bakkal and Serbian international Danko Lazović each scored twice as PSV replaced their visitors in fifth place in the table.

Niggling injuries
Both Bakkal and Nordin Amrabat are in contention to start against Liverpool after excellent performances as second-half substitutes against Groningen. That said, Amrabat "reported some stiffness today" according to his coach, after making his first appearance since picking up a groin injury in October. It is a similar story with Danny Koevermans, who is struggling to overcome a calf knock. "We remain hopeful," said Stevens, "and both players are part of our plans, otherwise they wouldn't be in the squad." Definitely out are playmaker Ibrahim Afellay, who strained ankle ligaments against Atlético on Matchday 5, and defender Jan Kromkamp, whose troublesome ankle prevents him lining up against his former employers.

Using the squad
Liverpool approach the game in confident mood after maintaining their one-point lead over Chelsea FC at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 victory away to Blackburn Rovers FC on Saturday. With their ticket to the knockout stage already rubber-stamped, Reds boss Rafael Benítez is expected to make full use of his squad on Tuesday. "It is clear that we will be making several changes," he said. "It's easier for us here because we're already qualified."

Anfield advantage
Even so, with first place in the pool still up for grabs - the Merseysiders are tied with Atlético both on eleven points and on head-to-head record, trailing the Spanish club by one goal on goal difference - it is unlikely that Benítez will weaken his side too much. "We prefer to play the second leg at home [in the last 16], so we want to win," he said. Definitely absent will be Fernando Torres (hamstring), Fábio Aurélio (calf), Philipp Degen (foot) and Martin Škrtel (knee). Dirk Kuyt is rested and has not travelled to his native country.