Debrecen v Liverpool, Champions League, November 24, 2009
That’s the situation for Liverpool as they head to Hungary for a win-at-all-costs game against Debrecen in the Champions League.
Such is the plight that Liverpool find themselves in at the minute, both at home and abroad, they need favours from other teams to ensure their progress to the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition. Liverpool could absolutely hammer Debrecen and Fiorentina in their final two group games of the group phase and it may not matter one iota.
The bottom line is that if Fiorentina defeat Lyon in Florence, the Scousers are out.
The way things have been going for Liverpool, victory in Debrecen is far from a formality. The Reds have only won once in 10 games and are leaking goals at an alarming rate. Five from four games in the Champions League, and 20 from 12 matches in the Premier League; it’s a far cry from last season when they only conceded 27 in 38 league games en route to finishing second.
The good news for Benitez is that Steven Gerrard (4/1 to get the first of the game, evens to score at any time of the match) is back to full fitness, and when Liverpool are up against it, particularly in Europe, the skipper usually stands up and makes himself be counted.
At the back Daniel Agger (7/1 to score) has been declared fit to play despite suffering a head injury at the weekend, while Glen Johnson, who missed the draw with Manchester City, has recovered from a hamstring complaint and is set to start meaning Jamie Carragher can revert to his centre-back role. (Liverpool are 17/20 to keep a clean sheet.)
Yet for every yin there is a yang on Merseyside, and the absences of Ryan Babel and Fernando Torres in particular will again be sorely felt by the Reds. Without El Nino, Liverpool are likely to hand another start to young forward David Ngog (9/2 to grab the opener, 6/5 to score at anytime of the match), with the Frenchman boasting an impressive record of four goals from four starts this campaign.
Debrecen have little but pride to play for as they are bottom of the group, having lost all four games, however they have won back-to-back league fixtures and pose a threat upfront.
Adamo Coulibaly (10/1 first, 7/2 any) has scored two from four Champions League games, while Gergely Rudolf (10/1 to bag the opener, 7/2 to score at any point of the match) has notched two out of three group matches so far.
Particular mention should also be made for Hungarian midfielder Peter Czvitkovics (11/2 to score), who was one of Debrecen’s more impressive players during the contest at Anfield in September. The Reds will need to be aware of his set-piece deliveries and ambitious shooting as the schemer looks to upset Benitez’s night.
Liverpool have to hope that they have a quiet night, and Fiorentina’s forwards also have an off day or else the 2005 champions are out. Otherwise the Europa League beckons.
101predicts: Debrecen 1 – Liverpool 2 (6/1)
Full match odds here.