Liverpool FC are fit and ready after rest, insists Rafa Benitez

By Nick Smith on Feb 20, 09 08:37 AM in Journalists


RAFAEL BENITEZ is confident that his side will be in perfect shape for re-launching their title charge following a two-week break.

Liverpool ended a gruelling run of six games in 20 days with their 3-2 win at Portsmouth a fortnight ago and play the first of their 13 remaining league fixtures at home to Manchester City on Sunday.

Since then Benitez's side has fallen five points behind the Barclays Premier League leaders, with Manchester United beating Fulham 3-0 on Wednesday in their game in hand.

When Liverpool face City they could be eight points off the pace, but after a free weekend following their FA Cup fourth round exit to Everton, Benitez feels his players will be fully refreshed for the challenge.

"The rest was good for us," he said. "We had been playing too many games in a row and so it was important for the players to rest and enjoy some time with their families.

"We need to be ready for the important weeks ahead.

"We know the City game is massive for us and that's why we have to concentrate totally on it and prepare properly.

"City are scoring goals but also conceding some so clearly they are a dangerous team. They have good players with the likes of Robinho and Bellamy so offensively we have to be aware."


Meanwhile, Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso has stressed the importance of trying to score an away goal in the Champions League last-16 showdown with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu next week.

The match pitches two of football's most successful teams against each other, with Madrid chasing a record 10th European Cup crown and Liverpool their sixth, and there is seemingly little to separate the twoteams on paper.

With Liverpool hosting the second leg at home it could be argued that Benitez's men hold the slight upper hand, but Spain midfielder Alonso believes that the advantage will depend on next week's away clash in Madrid.

"For us it is very important to score in the Bernabeu because this gives you a boost for the second leg at Anfield, gives you options and allows you to think about the return match in a different way," he said.

"If you don't manage to score, it limits you a lot for the return game because if you let a goal in it can cost you dear.

"It is going to be a very open tie for the players and the spectators."

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