Beşiktaş JK and Liverpool FC may are approaching the point of no return in Group A but Ertuğrul Sağlam and Rafael Benítez remain confident of success in Istanbul.
Beşiktaş JK and Liverpool FC are both approaching the point of no return in their UEFA Champions League campaigns ahead of their meeting in Istanbul although home coach Ertuğrul Sağlam and his visiting counterpart Rafael Benítez are both confident their side can pick up three crucial points.
The Turkish side have lost both their first two Group A games while Liverpool are third in the section with one point. Both teams are, however, buoyed by weekend comebacks; while Dirk Kuyt's two second-half penalties earned the Reds a 2-1 victory away to Everton FC in the 206th Merseyside derby on Saturday afternoon, Wednesday's hosts performed even better, coming from two goals down to win 3-2 at Trabzonspor. Morale is understandably high at Beşiktaş, who believe their first UEFA Champions League home victory since a 1-0 defeat of AC Sparta Praha on 4 November 2003 is a distinct possibility.
"Football is open to all scores," said Sağlam, who will serve a one-match touchline ban following his dismissal against FC Porto and is without İbrahim Akın (thigh) although Ricardinho is fit again having not played since Matchday 1 due to a knee problem. "The two games against Liverpool will clarify our position in the group and we have to take at least three points from those matches. Therefore if we can achieve three points from this game, our hopes of reaching the first knockout round will be better."
Despite the daunting task of overcoming the five-time European champions and last season's runners-up, Sağlam is pledging a positive approach as his side look to break their goal duck in this year's competition. He said: "We know we have to take care of our defensive responsibilities as well as attacking duties. We have to remember the game lasts 90 minutes and should not confuse rushing with playing at pace and desire with anger. Liverpool will want to take three points but we know their deficiencies. I have confidence that my players can achieve victory."
Liverpool, meanwhile, are unbeaten in the Premier League this season but are yet to replicate that form in the UEFA Champions League and must make do without striker Fernando Torres, ruled out by a thigh injury. Benítez recognises the increasingly urgent need to kick-start a stuttering campaign, explaining: "It is a very short competition and you have to perform well in every game. Both sides want to win and we know the game will played in front of passionate supporters and against tough opponents."
The English side might have lifted the trophy in Istanbul in 2005 but they tasted defeat on their last visit to the city, a 3-2 loss to Galatasaray SK on Matchday 6 last season. "I have some good memories in this city and I feel happy to be here," said Benítez, whose Valencia CF side defeated Beşiktaş en route to victory in the 2004 UEFA Cup. "If we get the chance we will play at a high tempo," added the Liverpool manager, who picked out Bobo, Rodrigo Tello and Edouard Cissé as the home side's main dangers. "If we do our job well, there will be no problem."