UEFA Champions League: Liverpool v Olympique Lyonnais Preview
2009-10-20 - Added by
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez will hope there is not a red beach ball in sight when his side take on French giants Lyon in their crucial UEFA Champions League clash at Anfield on Tuesday evening.
Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light was the Reds' third in a row, leaving the club’s title ambitions in ruins and the pressure very much on Spaniard Benitez ahead of the Group E clash with OL.
It remains a critical week in Benitez's Anfield tenure, with European qualification on the line and an encounter with Premier League champions and current table toppers Manchester United on Sunday.
However, speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the game, Benitez insists he remains confident in his team despite not scoring in their last three games.
"I am confident in my team, we are trying to improve and the response of the players this week has been very good and back to our best," said the former Valencia boss.
"I hope that the Champions League will create a special atmosphere that will inspire the players, as it usually does in games like this at Anfield."
The Reds face a tough task against group leaders Lyon who have won both their opening games, conceding no goals.
A defeat for Liverpool would leave them facing a tough task to qualify, after being undone by teen sensation Stevan Jovetic in Florence two weeks ago.
Claude Puel's men have been in terrific form this season and currently top Ligue 1, despite his injury-hit side crashing to their first defeat of the season on Saturday - a 2-0 defeat to Sochaux.
"I would rather be playing Liverpool when they are on a good run, not as they are at the moment. Liverpool know they must win," said Puel.
"There will be no need to motivate my team, we must impose our own style on the game and we know we will have to be at our best."
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will give the home side a much needed boost after returning from a groin injury he sustained whilst on international duty with England last week.
Spanish striker Fernando Torres is still out injured after missing Saturday's defeat to Sunderland, while Andrea Dossena (groin) and Alberto Aquilani (ankle) are both long-term injury concerns.
Greek defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos will miss out, while Albert Riera fails to make the bench after straining his hamstring in training.
Lyon are struggling in defence, with central defensive pair Jean-Alain Boumsong and Anderson both injured, leaving the barely-fit Cris as the only available centre-half.
French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan is likely to deputise in the heart of defence, with other defensive option Mathieu Bodmer also out injured.
Argentina's Cesar Delgado is a doubt with a thigh injury, while Brazilian playmaker Michel Bastos is also unlikely to feature.
Probable Starting XIs (*Star man):
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio; Lucas, Mascherano; Kuyt, Gerrard*, Benayoun; Babel.
Lyon (4-3-3): Llorris; Reveillere, Cris, Toulalan, Cissokho; Pjanic, Makoun*, Kallstrom; Govou, Gomis, Lopez.
ExtraFootie Prediction: Liverpool 1 - 0 Lyon - Liverpool should record their first win in four games against a French side decimated with injury. The Reds are low on confidence and will need to settle the nerves with the lion’s share of possession in the opening exchanges. The stage is set for captain marvel Gerrard to come to his side’s rescue once again.
Fancy a flutter? Paddy Power offers 11/4 for Gerrard to score and Liverpool to win. If you fancy Lyon to heap more misery on the home side you can back them at 10/1 to win 1-0.