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Benitez wary of Cisse threat

Rafael Benitez believes Liverpool's impressive defensive record will be tested to the full by Anfield old boy Djibril Cisse.

sports Updated: Oct 02, 2007 22:47 IST
Neil Johnston
Neil Johnston

Rafael Benitez believes Liverpool's impressive defensive record will be tested to the full by Anfield old boy Djibril Cisse in Wednesday's Champions League group game with Marseille.

Spanish keeper Jose Reina has not conceded a goal from open play since Liverpool's defeat to AC Milan in last season's Champions League final in May. Since then Liverpool have conceded three goals in 10 Premiership and Champions League games - all of which have come from the penalty spot.

Yet Benitez fears that eye-catching record could be spoilt by Cisse, who is itching to show his former club what they are missing.

The French striker netted 13 goals in 49 apperances during three years at Anfield before joining Marseille permanently in July after a loan stint.

"I think we are defending well but also we can improve," said Benitez.

"The consistency of the defence in not conceding goals is important. But we can improve because we can stop the other teams from creating chances.

"Cisse will be a threat. It's normal for a player when he leaves a top side that he wants to play well when he goes back.

"In this case Cisse is a striker who can score goals and will be dangerous to us."

Liverpool's Finland defender Sami Hyypia is also wary of the threat posed by Cisse and admits he has the potential to dent Liverpool's Champions League hopes.

"It will be interesting. I have played against him before when he was at Auxerre - that was before he came to Liverpool," said Hyypia.

"Of course he has his speed, so we are going to have to think about how we deal with him. I have trained against him many times, so it shouldn't be that difficult to know how to play against him.

"He is a very dangerous player with a good goalscoring record, so we have to be very careful with him."

Liverpool, winners in 2005 and runners-up last season, start against Marseille favourites to pocket three points after drawing their opening group game in Portugal against Porto.

Marseille are struggling in 17th spot in the French League and the tie is the first since former Belgium defender Erik Gerets was appointed coach last week following the departure of Albert Emon.

As well as Cisse, Marseille are expected to field another former Liverpool player in the shape of Boudewijn Zenden, and Benitez believes the French will be more dangerous following Gerets' arrival.

"Marseille will be a better team and make it more difficult for us," added Benitez.

"It's important in this competition to win at home - especially if you draw away.

"Marseille have changed the manager and maybe now they will change the tactics. We know Bolo and we know Cisse.

"But we always have confidence at home."

Benitez insists Steven Gerrard is in the right state of mind to feature 48 hours after the Liverpool captain was involved in a traffic collision which left a 10-year-old boy in hospital with a broken leg.

"Steven is ok and has been training normally," added Benitez. "We were talking before, but everything is ok."

Yossi Benayoun, who has scored on his last two outings, is set to start on the right wing as Jermaine Pennant is suspended following his red card against Porto.

First Published: Oct 02, 2007 22:38 IST

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