Benitez wants Liverpool to show spirit of Istanbul
13 April 2009 07:11
LONDON (AFP) - Rafa Benitez will call on Liverpool to show the spirit of Istanbul in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea.
Benitez's side trail 3-1 from the first leg at Anfield last week and need an heroic peformance in west London to reach the semi-finals.
History is against Liverpool, who have never won away from home in Europe against an English team and have not scored three goals at Stamford Bridge since 1989 when they won 5-2.
As if that wasn't enough to discourage Liverpool, they will also have to become the first team to score three times at the Bridge in a European match.
But Liverpool are no strangers to European miracles under Benitez. Their most famous comeback was in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan when they fought back from 3-0 down to beat the Italian team on penalties.
Liverpool have already won 1-0 at Chelsea this season, while Bolton scored three times in their defeat there on Saturday and Benitez believes the Reds can produce another Istanbul-style revival on Tuesday.
"The experience of Istanbul will help us, it shows you can come back from a big score. And it is important to realise that Bolton scored three there on Saturday, anything can happen," Benitez said on Monday.
"We have already won at Stamford Bridge this season. We ended their long unbeaten home record and that is a massive boost to our confidence.
"We can do it, if we work together and we score in the first half. If we do not do that it becomes increasingly more difficult, mentally.
"If we score a second goal then they will be under real pressure. But we know we must be almost perfect.
"People have written us off. Maybe we have nothing to lose, which means we can be positive, relax and hopefully then not make mistakes.
"We want to score an early goal, that is very important. But we will need to be calm and not lose our concentration. Bolton scored three, so it can be done, but Chelsea had already scored four, so you can see how hard it is to beat them at Stamford Bridge.
"Chelsea are a very good team and it will be very difficult, but we have been scoring a lot of goals against Manchester United, Real Madrid, Aston Villa and now Blackburn, so our form is very good."
Benitez is ready to risk captain Steven Gerrard after resting the midfielder in Saturday's 4-0 win over Blackburn to aid his recovery from a groin injury.
"Steven is getting better, he will train with the squad and we will make a decision nearer the match. Obviously we want him in the side, winning is easier with him than without him," Benitez added.
"Everything can change if he can play, and plays well, and it is not a massive risk if we use him."
Benitez, who will also have Javier Mascherano available after the Argentina midfielder missed the first leg through suspension, was encouraged by the way his side destroyed Blackburn so soon after the Chelsea defeat.
"The team produced a superb display, scored plenty of goals and certainly showed that we can score three goals in a match," he said.
"And Blackburn have a lot of very tall players, and we handled that well, and that gives us another positive message ahead of the second leg."
Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina agrees with Benitez that the Istanbul triumph - which came before he joined the club - is the perfect inspiration.
"Istanbul should be the inspiration for us. We know that the tie is really difficult, but still we have hope," Reina said. "We know already that if anyone can turn this around, it's Liverpool.
"We have to attack and score three goals. Even if we concede one, we'll have the chance to go to extra-time.
"We won 4-1 at Man United this season and no-one expected us to do that. We know already it's going to be almost impossible, but if there's someone who can do it, it's going to be Liverpool."