Friday, November 09, 2007

Liverpool's Confidence Is Back: Rafa Benitez

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has claimed that the Reds' record victory over Besiktas in the Champions League, will serve them as a morale booster.

The Reds hammered the Turkish club 8-0 at Anfield on Tuesday night in a must-win group game, following their poor start to the campaign with just one point from opening three games.

The Merseysiders are now hoping to take confidence further into the campaign as they need victories against Porto and Marseille to advance to the knock-out stage.

The Reds have a history of turning on a great performance when their backs are against the wall, and Benitez gave an example of the club's 3-1 win over Olympiacos and the final at Istanbul in 2005.

"I do not feel the players had on their minds that there was pressure on me and the club," said the Spaniard.

"I feel they only knew they needed to win, and they knew they have succeeded in different matches in the past.”

"I recall the game against Olympiacos a couple of years ago. We needed to win by two goals and could not afford to concede. But we let one in late in the first half and that gave us a real problem to qualify.”

"We had to go out and score three then in the second half. But we achieved that, and now my team has the experience of playing under great pressure and reaching their objectives, however hard it may seem.”

"The players knew they needed to win three games and they have set out to do that. Now we must do it twice more and we know our confidence is back.”

"Everybody can now believe we can beat Porto, and then Marseille. We have re-affirmed our strength in Europe, we can be there and qualify because we have done things like this before."

He added: "We have made a statement with the victory. The team showed character and quality, they showed they were hungry.”

"There were a lot of positive things. It was a good game with a lot of goals, different goals, from different players.”

"They were hungry, they wanted to win, they wanted to score goals. They produced the quality and the character we were looking for.”

"I did not expect eight, but we were trying to score a lot of goals, you don't get too many opportunities like this."

Benitez: No More Draws

Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez has warned his team about the series of draws being conceded, particularly in the League.

The 8-0 win over Besiktas has not papered over the (largely goalless) draws that Liverpool have been giving away, much like against Blackburn on Saturday.

They are still only six points off the top in the league, but continue to drop points with regularity.

"I think the key for us this year is to improve at home because away I think the team has confidence," said Benitez.

"But at home we have had some draws and it is clear we need to start winning."

Speaking about the game against Fulham on Saturday, he said: "I think in the Premier League you do not see easy games, so it will be a tough one.

"Normally it is more physical so we will try to use our quality.

"They are scoring some goals. When you are at the bottom of the table and you are scoring goals, it means you must be conceding goals, but also that you are dangerous in attack. For us especially on the counter attack we need to be aware.

"We now have more confidence and the strikers look like different players because they are scoring goals.

"I have my experience and it is better to not say anything until the end. So we need to wait, so maybe I will say yes I want to keep my team and then you have some problems in training sessions so it's better to wait and see what happens for Saturday."

He also returned to speak about the win over Besiktas, singling out a few players for special mention.

"Peter [Crouch] is very professional and he's a nice boy," said Benitez. "But I was surprised because everyone was asking about Benayoun, Babel and Crouch, but I think one of the best players was Voronin.

"He didn't score but he was amazing in assisting the other players, passing the ball and controlling the movements. So I prefer not to talk about one because we should talk about all of them, because all of them were magnificent."

More Rotation May Be In Store For Rafa’s Euro Heroes

Rafael Benitez refused to budge on his footballing philosophy, as he admitted he may tinker with the Liverpool side that thrashed Besiktas 8-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Reds arguably produced their best performance of the season that night with a score-line that registered the biggest win in UEFA Champions League history.

However, Benitez didn’t rule out rotating the side again if necessary, for the league game against Fulham at the weekend.

Speaking to Sky Sports News Benitez said: "Maybe I will say 'yes I want to keep my team' and then I will have problems in training, so it is better to wait and see what happens before Saturday."

Peter Crouch, Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun were among those to press their claims as they all found the target against Besiktas.

But Benitez was as impressed by Andriy Voronin as anyone else and admits the Ukrainian has given him a major selection dilemma in attack.

"I have been surprised because everybody has asked about Benayoun or Babel or Crouch, and I think one of the best players on the pitch was Voronin," said the Liverpool manager.

"He did not score but he was amazing, passing the ball and controlling the movements.

"So I prefer not to talk about just one, I think we should talk about all of them because they were all magnificent."

Fernando Torres missed the demolition of Besiktas but Benitez is confident the Spaniard will have recovered from his adductor muscle injury in time to face Fulham.

"Hopefully he'll be available. He was okay yesterday and if we don't have any problems he'll be fit," said Benitez.

"I think they can all play together, Torres and Crouch or Kuyt and Voronin, as you want."