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Chelsea, Liverpool set for another close battle
April 25, 2007 11:36 IST
Liverpool's four meetings with Chelsea in the Champions League have generated huge tension but only one goal and few expect a scoring spree when they meet again in the first leg of their semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
The two sides will be meeting for the 14th time since Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez arrived in English football in 2004 and there is little they do not know about each other.
The stage is all set for another close battle with either Manchester United or AC Milan meeting the eventual winner in the final in Athens on May 23.
Benitez said he believed the game could hinge on a flash of brilliance from one great player, citing Chelsea's top scorer Didier Drogba or Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard who was key to the Merseysiders' Champions League triumph two years ago.
At the same stage of the competition in 2005 a midfield-packed 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge was followed by a controversial fourth minute goal from Luis Garcia at Anfield which gave Liverpool a 1-0 aggregate victory.
Mourinho is still convinced the ball did not cross the line.
In last year's group stage both matches ended in goalless draws.
Overall, Mourinho leads his Spanish counterpart by six wins to four with three games drawn, but Liverpool are often at their best in European ties and are eager to add a sixth title to the five that they have already achieved down the years.
"We've been pleased with games against them in semi-finals," lofty Liverpool striker Peter Crouch said on Tuesday. "We've been playing well in Europe...it seems to be our competition at the moment."
While neither side is expecting a five-goal extravaganza like the one Manchester United and AC Milan produced in the first semi-final on Tuesday, Mourinho told reporters to expect the unexpected.
"Maybe tomorrow a lot of you are expecting another game without goals but you can't predict," the Portuguese coach said.
"We play the first game at home and out intention is not to cancel the game but to try to win."
UEFA Champions League 2006-07: The Complete Coverage