Champions League quarter-final first leg – Kick-off: 19-45 (BST)
It’s Groundhog Day at Anfield when Liverpool and Chelsea face each other for the ninth time in the past five seasons.
This year the teams meet at the quarter-final stage, following two semi-final victories for Liverpool – 1-0 on aggregate in 2004-05, and after a penalty shoot-out in 2006-07 – while Chelsea reached the 2007-08 final by winning 4-3 over two legs after extra time. Two goalless draws in the 2005-06 group stage complete the saga.
The two clubs, who are challenging Manchester United for the Premier league title, overcame strong opposition in the first knockout round, with Liverpool seeing off Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate, while Chelsea overcame Juventus 3-2.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, who has been in charge for all of their European encounters with the London club, said: “We are really pleased to be playing against Chelsea again at this stage of the competition and hopefully it will be the same for the next five years because it will mean we’re still there.”
Benitez believes that United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, will be in the unusual position of cheering on the home side at Anfield.
“He’ll be supporting Liverpool because he knows that we are the biggest threat now,” Benítez said. “If we continue in the competition then maybe we will be tired [for the league], but if we are not in the competition he knows that we will be a threat. If Chelsea are not in the competition he knows that they can be a threat. He will lose either way!”
Benítez is without tenacious midfielder Javier Mascherano as he serves a one-match suspension while Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has full-back José Bosingwa missing due to a calf strain, although striker Didier Drogba is fit to start after overcoming an ankle problem.
Hiddink pledged to take the game to Liverpool, saying: “These matches are finals, watched by the whole world. We did not come here to sit back and wait until we are overcome, and then react. It’s not the way to play football in my philosophy.
“Wherever we can we will try to take the initiative. When the players are fully committed and stick to the tactical plan, it will depend on which team is not making fatal errors.”