First Knockout Round
Frank Rijkaard, who leads his Barcelona side against Liverpool in tonight’s Champions League clash, has admitted he was a big fan of the great Liverpool side of the 1980s.
“They had a wonderful side with players like Kenny Dalglish,” Rijkaard said. “I have fond memories from my childhood of watching them and enjoying their one-touch football.”
Rijkaard is keen to ensure they do not add to their five wins in the tournament.
“I like their style,” he said of the current Liverpool team. “They have some great players and a great coach and play good football.”
It is a different situation because it is two matches and you can go straight out, so the effect is more direct,” Rijkaard conceded. “It does not really change things for us, though, as we always go out to win.”
Samuel Eto’o will sit out tonight’s game, having missed Sunday’s 2-1 league defeat at Valencia as he continues his recuperation following a knee problem.
Lionel Messi is approaching full fitness having recovered from a broken toe and Rijkaard is pleased to welcome back the Argentinian.
“Messi is fit again and he is ready. I do not want to focus on him, though, as I do not like putting pressure on my players. I understand why everyone is happy to have him back, however.”
Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez was undefeated at Camp Nou in three visits as Valencia coach, but he does not believe those matches will have any bearing on tonight’s game.
“They have a different team now and it is a different situation,” he said. “Barça are always strong at home. I am just pleased that the second game is at Anfield and we are counting on that. The aim in the first match is to prevent them having too much possession.”
“I would say that 95 per cent of teams that come to Barcelona do the same thing. It is not easy when they have 70 per cent of the possession to stop them scoring, but that is what we want to do. It then depends on our counterattack because if we score, it would change the whole match.”
Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Gianluca Zambrotta, Lilian Thuram, Carles Puyol, Giovanni van Bronckhorst; Xavi Hernández, Rafael Márquez, Deco; Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Liverpool: Pepe Reina; Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, John Arne Riise; Steven Gerrard, Mohamed Sissoko, Xabi Alonso, Boudewijn Zenden; Craig Bellamy, Dirk Kuyt.