Atletico: First Leg
Me?... Tired?... Noooo.
Fernando Torres will miss out again as Liverpool prepare to face Atletico Madrid on Thursday night. After sustaining a knee injury, the number 9 will not be able to face his old club as Liverpool's plight in the Europa League continues.
The Reds reached destination Madrid earlier on today after a mammoth journey across the continent. Starting with a train ride from Runcorn and ending with a flight to Madrid the trek included an overnight stay in Paris, several coach/train stints and a lot of autographs.
Nevertheless, the team and the Manager have arrived safe and sound ready to face their Spanish opposition. With the flight ban on UK airspace also now lifted, the travel back should be a lot easier for the lads who would have found it a tight squeeze trying to get back in good time for the Premier League fixture on the weekend against Burnley.
Liverpool head into this tie on the back of an uplifting 3-0 win over West Ham, confidence should be high and with the prospect of finishing 4th looking constantly further away, the Europa League offers a real chance for Liverpool to end the season on some sort of high.
Atletico Madrid are an established and threatening football side, however, they are currently hovering at 10th in La Liga and have lost their last 3 league matches.
News player wise is that Atletico do not have any major concerns so all options should be available for manager Quique Sanchez Flores.
Sergio Aguero however, who was a major threat for many Liverpool fans will not make the start due to being suspended after picking up too many yellow cards so far in the competition. Some relief for the Reds.
Liverpool on the other hand still have some missing names, Torres was mentioned earlier but still we are also without Skrtel, Aurelio and Martin Kelly. To add to this Insua is again not able to start meaning more than likely Agger will be at left back again.
With Atletico missing Aguero, it will be top league goalscorer and ex United employee Diego Forlan that most of the Spanish contingency will look to for supplying their goals. Another one to watch out for is Reyes.
Forlan may be racking up quite a goal tally over in Spain but he's getting on a bit now, his pace is lacking slightly, its his experience that will provide him with fortune should we let it on Thursday night.
I just get the feeling though that Benitez has probably studied Forlan and the rest of the Atletico attack down to a tee, and with the defence instructed, providing they can remain calm and intelligent they will win the battle.
All that then leaves us with is the task of getting one in the net, away goals can always be precious.
Got to be seeing the likes of Benayoun start again i think, always a problem for any opposition. Kuyt needs to feature too as he can always grab a goal. N'Gog leading the line i fear may not work as well against the continental style but if he is fed well from the wingers and supported then he also could grab us glory on the night.
To end with, Liverpool will be setting a fantastic record as soon as they set foot on the pitch by becoming the first English club to play in 16 European Semi-Finals, lets just hope the record is accompanied with a win for the Reds.