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Babel eager to grasp striking chance

Ryan Babel is hoping to seize a rare chance to play as the central striker as he looks to help Liverpool FC past Club Atlético de Madrid and into the inaugural UEFA Europa League final.

Liverpool striker Ryan Babel is hoping to impress manager Rafael Benítez (right) as a striker
Liverpool striker Ryan Babel is hoping to impress manager Rafael Benítez (right) as a striker ©Getty Images

Set to be deployed in his favoured centre-forward role with injury concerns surrounding the club's other strikers, Ryan Babel is determined to seize his opportunity and help Liverpool FC "make something of this season".

Liverpool welcome Club Atlético de Madrid for the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg with the visitors holding a 1-0 advantage thanks to former Manchester United FC striker Diego Forlán's strike last week in Madrid. "At Anfield and with our fans behind us, we've [overturned a first-leg deficit] before and we're confident of doing it again," said Babel, whose solitary goal in six appearances in this season's competition came in the 3-1 round of 32 success at FC Unirea Urziceni.

"The fans make a very big difference, it's clear to everybody how important they are and how decisive they can be in big games," added the Dutch international, who is unfazed at the prospect of leading the Liverpool line against Los Colchoneros. "I played as a striker all the way through my youth career. It's a nice role and one that I like."

With Fernando Torres out for the season, Reds manager Rafael Benítez  also has injury concerns about David Ngog and Dirk Kuyt, leaving Babel as the natural option to fill the central striker's position. "We know that Ryan likes playing up front," the Spanish manager said. "He played there the other day [in the 4-0 win against Burnley FC] and he's played there in the past. He's got pace, ability, he can score goals and he's capable of turning matches.

Benítez believes Babel has made a significant impact since the turn of the year, adding: "We had conversations in January about his future. He's changed his attitude and worked very well since then." "Sometimes as a player you've got to look in the mirror and admit you've made mistakes," said Babel. "I'm happy to be at a big club, we've discussed everything and I have great things to look forward to."

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