Liverpool welcome Bordeaux to Anfield knowing victory could see them qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League – but manager Rafael Benítez is not taking anything for granted.
“We have watched them a lot,” said Benitez. “They are more comfortable away from home and, for me, that is the problem. They play sometimes with Micoud as a second striker, and play 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1, and away it is easier to play like this. We might go forward and leave spaces behind and they could play counterattack with pace from Faubert on the right side Mavuba on the left.”
Given Liverpool’s indifferent start to the season, it is inenvitable that Benitez has to field questions about his rotation policy.
The Spaniard concedes he will almost certainly be naming a different lineup for the 100th match in succession for tinight’s game against Bordeaux. Midfielders Steven Gerrard and Mohamed Sissoko picked up minor knocks in Saturday’s 3-1 victory against Aston Villa, though both are expected to be fit for selection.
“It is a game where you might think – and I know our players don’t – it will be easy because they are bottom of the group, but you have to be careful because they have good players with quality,” added the Liverpool boss.
Bordeaux, who have yet to score in the Champions League this term, after recording one draw and two defeats.
Coach Ricardo Gomes said: “We do not have any extra pressure. We have played well in the last two matches and that gives us more confidence. After a couple of good performances we have good psychological form.”
Vladimír Šmicer’s thigh injury will keep him out against his former club. Up front, Lilian Laslandes pulled up with hamstring trouble in training on Monday and could be a doubt. Joseph Enakarhire is out with ankle trouble, so Ricardo has to choose between youngsters Henrique and Gérald Cid as a defensive partner for David Jemmali. Franck Jurietti and Stéphane Dalmat also missing but, despite the problems, Ricardo feels his team are capable of upsetting the home side.
“Liverpool did not play particularly well against us 15 days ago and if we use our strong points, we can gain something,” he said.
Pepe Reina; Steve Finnan, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise; Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Mohamed Sissoko, Mark González; Peter Crouch, Dirk Kuyt.
Ulrich Ramé; Julien Faubert, David Jemmali, Henrique, Florian Marange; Alejandro César Alonso, Rio Antonio Mavuba, Geraldo Mauricio Wendel; Johan Micoud; Lilian Laslandes, Jean-Claude Darcheville.