With no FA Cup involvement, Liverpool have a free weekend ahead of the most important week of their season. Two wins from the next two games and the season could look a whole lot different, two defeats and the season is well and truly over.
Real Madrid at home followed by Man United at Old Trafford, they don’t come much bigger than that double header for any team.
“For sure this week will be very important,” says manager Rafa Benitez. “You can talk about crucial games in the season, but these two important games this week it could make a very big difference.”
Rafa will be hoping to have record signing Fernando Torres available for the visit of 9 times European champions Real, he picked up an ankle injury in the Bernabeu two weeks ago. “Fernando is improving but it is still too soon to say if he will be fit,” Benitez told reporters on Friday.
“He is working hard with the physios and we now have two or three more training sessions before we have to make a decision. I think he can be close but each player is different. We just have to wait and see.”
Another key player Benitez will be hoping to have back is full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, who also picked up an injury in Madrid and has missed the league fixtures with Middlesbrough and Sunderland. He is rated similarly to Torres.
Speaking of the double header of massive fixtures, Benitez told the official website “When you play two games in a week it is not easy to prepare for the next game, so physically and tactically we have been able to do more things.”
“In this case we have had more time to prepare and have been able to approach the week in a different way – we are really pleased with the situation.”
“To progress in the Champions League and to beat United is totally different than if you cannot progress or if you cannot win, so this week is very crucial.”
With a 1-0 lead from the first leg, Liverpool are favourites to progress against Juande Ramos’ team. The trip to Old Trafford looks more of a daunting task on current form.