There’s only eight teams remaining in Europe’s elite competition as Liverpool travel to Holland to face PSV Eindhoven. The Champions League winners from 2005 arrive in the quarter finals having knocked out 2006 winners Barcelona in the last 16.
The Reds are further buoyed by events both on and off the pitch in the last week. Saturday’s impressive 4-1 win over Arsenal saw new owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks in attendance at Anfield for the first time since the official takeover of the club. They saw striker Peter Crouch notch his first ever hat trick – although he may not even start at the Phillips Stadion on Tuesday.
After Saturday’s match Gillett and Hicks met with Liverpool council officials and had their plans for the new stadium approved, which was announced on Monday morning that works will begin next month and also ruled out a groundshare with Everton. The American owners then met with manager Rafa Benitez on Sunday morning to speak about their plans for the club.
|Tom Hicks, pictured at Anfield on Saturday (Â© This Is Anfield)|
Speaking at Monday’s pre-match press conference in Eindhoven, Benitez was positive about the meeting with Gillett and Hicks “It was an important meeting in terms of the future of the club and it went well. We spoke about our ideas for the future and everything was positive. I think this club has a brilliant future.”
The Reds face Ronald Koeman’s side having already drew 0-0 away in the group phase back in September. A similar result would arguably suit both sides, with the return leg at Anfield just eight days later next Wednesday. Koeman said “It will be a very difficult game because Liverpool are a great team. So I would be satisfied with a goalless draw, although 1-0 would be much better.”
In the home match during the group stage Liverpool came out 2-0 victors courtesy of goals from Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch.
But Benitez won’t take PSV for granted, having lost out to Benfica in the last 16 of last year’s competition having been the favourites then. A disappointing away leg then saw Benfica grab a late goal to win 1-0, then stun Liverpool winning 2-0 at Anfield.
“Don’t let anyone be fooled into thinking that PSV will not fight with everything they have got to get into the last four,” said the Spaniard.
“We will not underestimate them. They beat Arsenal in the last round and they are top of their league, said the Spaniard. “Whatever their supposed problems are with form or injuries, they will fight for this with everything they possess.
Referring to the omission of PSV centre back Alex – goalscorer of the winning goal against Arsenal – Benitez said “They have some defensive problems, but you never know whether that can help you.”
Liverpool are without Momo Sissoko who is suspended so Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano are expected to start in the middle having ran the match against Arsenal on Saturday. That means Gerrard will either continue in an advanced role off one striker, or more likely move to the right side of midfield.
Up front Benitez may well opt for his favoured partnership of Kuyt and Bellamy, meaning no place for hat-trick hero Crouch.
The back four more or less picks itself with Finnan expected to come back in for Arbeloa on the right.
PSV are without two key players in defender Alex and forward Arouna Kone.
The match is live on ITV1 in the UK, with kick off at 7:45pm.