After an entertaining 2 days of Uefa Champions League action, attention shifts back to Europe’s second tier club competition the Europa League. Tonight Liverpool host Atletico Madriod while Hamburg SV travel to Craven Cottage to face Fulham. This will be a night of tense emotion as all clubs involved will be looking to make it through to the final.
Liverpool’s only realistic chance of ending the season with some silverware depends on the outcome of their return leg fixture against Ateletico Madrid at Anfield tonight.
Trailing by a solitary goal, Liverpool will have to beat Atletico without serial striker Fernado Torres, who is out for the rest of the season, while David Ngog and Dirk Kuyt are also serious doubts with the pair facing back and calf injuries respectively.
In the face of such problems, Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez is expected to start Dutch Winger Ryan Babel in a forward position, if both Kuyt and Ngog don’t recover in time. Babel expressed his delight at playing the role of striker saying:
“Playing as a striker is a nice role because I spent all my youth there so that’s why I like it,” Babel said in a press conference ahead of the tie with the La Liga outfit. “It’s a very big game and another chance to win something and to make a success of this season, which is definitely important for the club and also for the players.”
Fresh from a 4-0 thrashing of Burnley on Sunday, Rafa Benitez is very confident that his boys can make it through to the final and at least make something of their disastrous season.
Atletico Madrid on the other hand have already made it through to the final of the Copa del Rey and they will be looking to improve their chances of getting another trophy by eliminating the reds. Atletico last won a major trophy 14 years ago when they bagged the Spanish League title and both the Kings and Copa del rey titles.
Atletico were also winners over the weekend beating Tenerife 3-1. Although the win does not give them any hope of getting into a champions League spot, it does gives them a lot of confidence ahead of tonight’s clash.
With dangerman Sergio Aguero returning into the squad after his suspension, Qique Flores is expected to line up his squad in a 4-4-2 formation that includes: De Gea in goal, Ujfalusi, Perea, Antonio Lopez, Alvaro Dominguez; Simao, Paulo Assuncao, Raul Garcia, Reyes; Forlan and Aguero.
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez will line his troops in a 4-3-2-1 formation that will include: Reina, Agger, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Johnson; Mascherano, Lucas; Gerrard, Benayoun, Babel, and either Ngog’ and Kuyt.
My prediction, 2-0 in favour of Liverpool.
Phot credit: from samalmarr