Olympique Marseille will host English club Liverpool tonight (16 September) in their Champions League 2008-09 opener. The Group D match will take place at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille. This is, in fact, a rematch of last year’s Champions League meeting when Liverpool pulled off a 4-0 away victory at Stade Velodrome and ensured their progress to the last 16 of Champions League. However, ahead of tonight’s clash, Olympique Marseille can take inspiration from their last season away victory over Liverpool thanks to the only goal from Mathieu Valbuena.
Match: Olympique Marseille vs Liverpool, Group D, Champions League 2008-2009
Date: 16 September 2008, Tuesday
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Kick off: 19:45 BST (British Standard Time)
Live TV: ITV1, BBC Radio Five Live
When Marseille took on Liverpool at home at season, the situation was more intense as they needed at least a draw to get into the last 16. On the other hand, Liverpool, who was in the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Marseille, was left with the only option to win the match in order to progress to the round of 16. However, the upcoming match does not seem to be a ‘do or die’ affair for either side, given the fact that this is the opening group stage match of their Champions League 2008-09 campaign. Even a defeat in the match for either side would not be meant to be the end of their hope of progressing to the next round.
After the morale-boosting victory over Manchester United on last weekend, Liverpool must be flying in the sky now, given the fact that it is their first victory over Manchester Untied in seven years. Saturday’s 2-1 victory came as a confidence booster for the All reds at Anfield and they are currently at second position on goal difference in the league table with 10 points from 4 matches. Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was full of confidence following the victory and said that nothing could have given a better boost to their confidence level ahead of the Champions League encounter. The Spanish coach also confirmed that Liverpool would now go into the Marseille match with good frame of mind and spirit. Benitez also termed the 2-1 victory over Manchester United their best performance so far this season. However, Rafael Benitez also cautioned his boys about the forthcoming fixture at Marseille and asked Liverpool players to forget the United heroics and focus on the Olympique Marseille match.
Wales Online Reported:
“We did well against Manchester United but we must be focused on the next game, and that is Marseille.
“We must not allow ourselves to get carried away. We played well on Saturday but the Champions League is different.
“Clearly we must not think about what happened in the past and think only of our next game and making sure that we win it. Otherwise you waste what has gone before.
“We have talked to the players about putting Manchester United out of their minds and just concentrate on the future.”
Olympique Marseille is gearing up to take revenge of their 4-0 humiliating defeat to Liverpool last season. Interestingly, Marseille also currently stands at second in the league table and are unbeaten so far in League 1 this season. However, their performance has not been as impressive as it should have been due to their weakness in the defense, even though their attacking flair has been outstanding so far this season. Remembering last season’s 4-0 home thrash that forced them to narrowly miss out on a place in the round of 16, Marseille must be careful about Liverpool. The French side got a 1-1 draw against Bordeauxb last Saturday and their performance was satisfactory. Especially, their performance in the first half was excellent against Bordeaux. Marseille manager Eric Gerets asked urged his players to show the same form throughout 90 minutes against Liverpool. Gerets has praised Liverpool for their comprehensive victory over Manchester United, but he has also vowed that Liverpool would be able to repeat the same performance that the English club produced in their last visit to Stade Velodrome.
"We're hosting what is, for me, the favourite to win the group, they're a fantastic team," added Gerets.
"But it was a pleasant surprise to see how my team coped against Bordeaux, especially in the first half.
"I think we need to reproduce that kind of performance over 90 minutes against Liverpool. I don't think Liverpool will surprise us quite the way they did last year, when they basically out-muscled us.
"I don't think that will happen again. We won't make the same mistakes."
Liverpool Missing Fabio Aurelio, but Gerrard, Torres, Mascherano and Lucas Fit for Marseille Showdown
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez will not get the service of full-back Fabio Aurelio who has been left out of Liverpool’s Champions League opener with a minor calf injury that he sustained against Manchester United. However, the good news is that Captain Steven Gerrard is ready for first team appearance, while Spanish striker Fernando Torres is also ready to come back in action with the match against Marseille. Gerrard could manage to play 22 minutes in the 2-1 victory over Manchester United coming off the bench as a substitute on his return after a minor groin surgery. Torres remained sidelined in the match, but he is reportedly ready to be back in action.
Moreover, Liverpool will also get the service of Javier Mascherano who played excellently well during their victory over United last weekend. However, the Argentine midfielder took a minor knock to his knee, but he has been named in the 18-member squad declared for Marseille trip. Brazilian Lucas, who could not play any part in the Red’s last match due to international duty, will be available for the Champions League encounter tonight.
Olympique Marseille Facing no Major Injury Problem
Marseille does not have any major injury problems ahead of the match. That means will come out with their full strength against Liverpool. Rather, Marseille will get the service of Hatem Ben Arfa and midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, two important players of Marseille, who returned from injuries in their latest league match. Ben Arfa is the most important player of Marseille attack, while Valbuena was the scorer of the winning goal for Marseille last season at Anfield. Both the players are expected to start for the Liverpool match tonight.
Online Live Score and Updates:
Here, I am giving some names of the websites from where you can get the online live score and updates of the match:
Live Football Scores
Liverpool seems to be favorite considering their current form and confidence in evident. However, you should not forget that Marseille will be playing before their home fans and will be looking to take some pride back that they lost last season at home, but Marseille defense must be up to the mark to stave off the Liverpool challenge. Liverpool, in contrast, needs to dominate in the midfield because their main strength lies in the midfield. One thing is for sure that this is not going to be one-sided match like last season. Now, let us see if Liverpool and Marseille could come up with their best and present the football fans with a mind-blowing match.