Debreceni coach Andras Herczeg is excited as his young team prepare for a leap intointo the unknown, as they make their debut in the Champions League against five-time winners Liverpool.
Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez is not taking the unheralded Hungarian outfit for granted, knowing a Group E victory is not guaranteed.
“If Liverpool are doing well in the Champions League, it’s very good for the club in a number of ways,” said the Spaniard. “It’s extremely important for us to progress.
“Debrecen have won eight games in a row and they will take a lot of confidence from that. But it’s difficult to judge if, with all respect, they haven’t been playing against top sides each week.
“They are excited about being here and they want to succeed, and I am aware that they are also dangerous on the break. But this is a top club and the pressure is on us to win. We lost two games at the start of the season, but I really feel the senior players have responded.”
Benitez will be without the injured duo Alberto Aquilani and Daniel Agger.
Herczeg, meanwhile, who will be without the suspended pair Jozsef Varga and Tibor Dombi and has concerns over the fitness of Gergely Rudolf and Djordje Pantic, said that he was less interested in the outcome than in how his players performed.
“Our opponents are world class, a club famous around the world, and this is a fantastic experience for us,” he said.
“We know we are underdogs, but we would like to show our ability, to prove it wasn’t only luck that took us to the group stage. In qualifying we faced teams rated higher than us, although they weren’t in Liverpool’s class. We proved ourselves round after round, but this is a really big challenge.
“The result itself isn’t my main concern – it’s how my players react to this experience that really counts. People were surprised last season when we won the league with such a young team.
“It shows the kind of potential my players have and I want to see the next step in their development against Liverpool. This is a good time for Hungarian football, the whole nation is behind us.”