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Liverpool v Debrecen preview

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16 Sep 2009 09:54:29

Liverpool v Debrecen preview

Liverpool kick-off their UEFA Champions League campaign at home as Hungarian champions Debrecen travel to Anfield more in hope than expectation. Debrecen have never previously graced the group stage of Europe's premier club competition and should be comfortably dispatched ahead of more testing Group E encounters with Lyon and Fiorentina. Rafa Benitez has conceded winning the Premier League is the priority this season but given Liverpool's expertise at reaching the competition's latter stages, a trip to Madrid in May should not be ruled out. "The Premier League is the priority for the fans," said Benitez. "But the Champions League is massive, and we will not forget the domestic cups because this club are expected to do well in everything. "It is always important to approach every competition to win it. But in a top side like Liverpool, the priority for the fans has to be the Premier League." While Liverpool are well schooled in European travel Debrecen are the first Hungarian club to reach the group phase since Ferencvaros in 1995. Their last foray onto English shores ended in acute disappointment as they fell to a 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford in 2005. Liverpool head into the game on the back of a 4-0 defeat of Burnley and it seems likely Benitez, who marks his 300th game in charge of the team, will resist the temptation to tinker. Javier Mascherano is fit again and champing at the bit for the playing time, but may have to settle for a place on the bench as a rejuvenated Lucas continues his blossoming partnership with Steven Gerrard. Yossi Benayoun has been in sparkling form of late as he provides nimble-footed support for Fernando Torres, while Albert Riera is back in favour down the left flank following what has been a slow start to the season for the Spaniard. Daniel Agger and Alberto Aquilani remain Benitez's only long-term absentees. Debrecen boss Andras Herczeg will likely look to weather an early Liverpool storm and key to any success could be how well summer signing Mirsad Mijadinoski handles Torres. The giant centre-half has impressed in helping Debrecen to five successive wins this season but the prospect of keeping Torres quiet will be a different proposition altogether. Zoltan Szelesi is a definite absentee with a knee injury, while Gergely Rudolf (also knee) and Djordje Pantic (concussion) are doubtful. Herczeg's selection headache is further exacerbated by the absence of suspended duo Jozsef Varga and Tibor Dombi.


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