Liverpool FC have summoned the memory of Istanbul as they plot another 'mission impossible' on Tuesday aimed at overturning Chelsea FC's two-goal advantage from their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Article top media content
Liverpool FC have summoned the memory of Istanbul as they plot another 'mission impossible' aimed at overturning Chelsea FC's two-goal advantage from their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg.
The Merseysiders succumbed 3-1 at Anfield last week to jeopardise their chances of securing a likely semi-final against FC Barcelona – 4-0 first-leg victors against FC Bayern München – but manager Rafael Benítez knows his side have already proved their comeback pedigree in more daunting situations. Most notably, they retrieved a three-goal half-time deficit in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League final against AC Milan in Turkey to lift the European Champion Clubs' Cup for a fifth time after a penalty shoot-out. "Istanbul is maybe the best ever final in the history of the Champions League," he said. "To beat Chelsea would be a fantastic achievement but a final is a final."
Liverpool's hopes rest to a large extent on whether Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are functioning at their best, and it will have been a boost to the visitors that the England midfielder took part in Monday's final training session with seemingly no pain from the groin injury which kept him out of Saturday's 4-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers FC, a result that kept the second-placed Reds in the Premier League title hunt. "If he's fit, Stevie is a key player and an inspiration," added Benítez. "Hopefully he can play well, score goals and be a leader on the pitch. "
'Chelsea under pressure'
The initial task for the Spaniard's charges will be to score first at Stamford Bridge and hope that gives them momentum. "This is football; you never know what will happen," he continued. "We have nothing to lose. Chelsea will be under pressure because they have to win, but then they have experienced players who have been through this before."
In the opposition camp, Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink rejected the notion that complacency could creep into his team, who will be without suspended captain John Terry. "We will prepare very professionally because we know Liverpool are a very good team and they play beautiful football," he said. "Torres is very dangerous but they have several players who are capable of causing harm if you are not closing them down or if there is a lack of concentration for a slight second."
The Dutchman also warned supporters to expect an open encounter. "I cannot believe we will have a game where nothing happens in the first hour and then the teams decide to take risks; it is not in their souls to do that," he said. "We are at home and of course we have to go for the win." There were certainly goals to savour in the league at the weekend, when third-placed Chelsea conceded three times late on after building a 4-0 advantage over Bolton Wanderers FC, however Hiddink feels his side have learned from that scare, concluding: "We should have controlled the rest of the game. You can concede one goal but one alarm bell should be enough. The problem was that the alarm clock kept ringing."