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Rediff.com  » Sports » Liverpool seek early passage to last 16

Liverpool seek early passage to last 16

October 31, 2005 10:35 IST

Under-fire for another stuttering domestic campaign, Liverpool turn to the relative calm of their Champions League defence with a place in the last 16 at stake on Tuesday.

The European champions welcome Anderlecht to Anfield with the Belgian side the unwanted holders of a record 10 successive defeats in the competition.

Victory for Liverpool coupled with a win for Chelsea against Real Betis in the other Group G tie will send Rafa Benitez's team through to the knockout phase.

The two Premier League rivals have dominated the group to the extent that they should seal their passage with two games to spare.

Benitez moved to arrest Liverpool's inconsistent domestic form and the disappointment of their midweek League Cup exit by making a host of changes for Saturday's 2-0 league win over West Ham United.

The Spaniard is also looking to January's transfer window to bolster a squad finding goals hard to come by.

"I have an advantage in January that we didn't have last year," said Benitez. "We are the Champions League winners.

HUNGRY PLAYERS

"Sometimes, finding hungry players is enough. Sometimes you don't need big money to sign the best in the world."

Anderlecht are unbeaten after 12 matches in the Belgian league but have lost each of their Champions League group games 1-0, including a defeat by Liverpool when Djibril Cisse's 20th-minute goal separated the sides on October 19.

"We cannot think of that. All we can do is think positively," Anderlecht coach Frank Vercauteren said of his side's dismal run in Europe.

"We can take some hope from the last game but we must be careful not to take too much for granted. The bigger the hope, the bigger the disappointment."

The Brussels side will be without defenders Vincent Kompany and Anthony Vanden Borre but are boosted by the return of central defenders Hannu Tihinen and Roland Juhasz.

"The game has come too early for Vincent while Anthony Vanden Borre has a problem with his back. The return of Tihinen and Juhasz is a big boost," said Vercauteren.

Probable teams:

Liverpool: 25-Jose Reina; 17-Josemi, 4-Sami Hyypia, 23-Jamie Carragher, 6-John-Arne Riise; 8-Steven Gerrard, 16-Dietmar Hamann, 14-Xabi Alonso, 15-Peter Crouch; 10-Luis Garcia, 9-Djibril Cisse

Anderlecht: 13-Silvio Proto; 3-Olivier Deschacht, 30-Hannu Tihinen, 5-Roland Juhasz, 6-Michal Zewlakow; 17-Christian Wilhelmssson, 4-Yves Vanderhaeghe, 21-Par Zetterberg, 14-Bart Goor; 9-Mbo Mpenza, 24-Serhat Akin

Referee: Kim Milton Nielsen (Denmark)
Source:
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