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Page last updated at 21:43 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Under-fire Benitez stays positive

Champions League Group E
Venue: Stade Gerland Date: Wednesday, 4 November 2009 Kick-off: 1945 GMT Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Merseyside and ITV


Benitez 'very pleased' to be at Liverpool

Rafael Benitez is determined to remain as Liverpool boss and believes his side will help his cause by overcoming their problems in the Champions League.

Defeat to Group E leaders Lyon on Wednesday would leave the Reds all but out of this year's competition but Benitez is remaining defiant.

"I'm very pleased to be here and I wish to be here for a long time," he said.

"The players are strong enough for this challenge. The mentality is good, and they are determined to win."

Referencing Liverpool's famous "You'll Never Walk Alone" anthem, Benitez added: "When you walk through a storm with your head high, I will try to keep it high."

A seventh defeat in eight games would be something Liverpool have not experienced since Bill Shankly's appointment as manager, 50 years ago on 1 December.

Losing would be bad for us, bad for the club, but we will keep going

Rafa Benitez

Lyon, with three victories already, need one point to qualify for the last 16, while Liverpool have never lost three successive European Cup games in their history.

But Liverpool's injury problems have overshadowed the build-up to the game with Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Fabio Aurelio and Albert Riera missing out.

However, Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani is on the verge of starting his first game for the club and a late decision will be taken on Daniel Agger's back problem.

Benitez is banking on striker Fernando Torres getting through a large part of the match with what is now considered to be a hernia problem.

Gerrard did not even travel to France, and Benitez insists that a decision on whether his skipper needs a groin operation will not be taken until Liverpool return to Merseyside.

Benitez said: "We do not want either player to have an operation, we will hope that they continue to improve. It is too early to say just yet.

"It is not easy with this injury crisis. If any of the top sides in England lost four or five of their very best players and then four or five from their bench, they would struggle.

"People do not realise how important Torres and Gerrard are until you lose them, this situation is not easy for anyone. But we will do our best and we do have the experience of such situations.

"Two years ago we also needed to win our final three group matches, and we succeeded. We can do that again. The players here are strong enough for this challenge."

But Benitez knows his position will come under further scrutiny if his side falls to a second defeat in the space of two weeks to the French side.


He added: "The players are working very hard, they are positive and determined. They know this result is important for the club, for everyone.

"But our fans have not turned. They are clever people, they know the position the club was in when I arrived and they know what position it is in now, they know this is the only way.

"It is important for everyone to see the bigger picture, I am sure things will change in a few weeks when we have our players fit again. When we have our big players available, everything will change.

"Losing would be bad for us, bad for the club, but we will keep going. But we are not thinking that way, we are only thinking of winning."

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see also
Lyon 1-1 Liverpool
04 Nov 09 |  Europe
Liverpool mentality is good - Benitez
03 Nov 09 |  Liverpool
Hamann urges Reds to back Benitez
02 Nov 09 |  Liverpool
Benitez fears for Gerrard fitness
30 Oct 09 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 1-2 Lyon
20 Oct 09 |  Europe

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