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Rediff.com  » Sports » Marseille must not fear Liverpool, says Valbuena

Marseille must not fear Liverpool, says Valbuena

September 15, 2008 16:18 IST

Olympique Marseille must have no fear when they host Liverpool in their Champions League Group D opener on Tuesday despite painful memories of the English club's last visit, said midfielder Mathieu Valbuena.

"We're full of confidence and must not show any inferiority complex," said Valbuena, who remembers Liverpool stormed through to the last 16 of European soccer's showcase event with a spectacular 4-0 win at the Velodrome stadium last December.

"We have no reason to be fearful," Valbuena, who returned to action this weekend after nursing a groin strain, told reporters.

"Liverpool are the favourites in the group and it's a good thing to start against them," added the playmaker, who scored a superb goal to make Marseille the first French club to beat Liverpool at Anfield in October last year.

Marseille should be at full strength with Valbuena and France winger Hatem Ben Arfa, who has recovered from a knee injury, both expected to start after coming on as substitutes in an entertaining 1-1 draw at Girondins Bordeaux on Saturday.

That result left the 1993 European champions undefeated after five Ligue 1 matches and second in the standings, two points behind champions Olympique Lyon.

Liverpool, second in the Premier League, boosted their morale by beating arch-rivals Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday to give manager Rafael Benitez his first league victory over United in his fifth season in charge at Anfield.

BEST PERFORMANCE

"Now we will go to Marseille in a good frame of mind," Benitez told reporters after Saturday's win. "That was our best performance of the season and we now feel we can go into the Champions League in good heart and spirit."

Benitez, however, was unsure whether key players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres would be fully fit for the Marseille game.

Gerrard played 22 minutes on his return from a groin operation but Spain striker Torres remained on the bench after suffering a hamstring injury against Aston Villa on Aug. 31.

Javier Mascherano is also a doubt after pulling up in Saturday's game with a calf problem.

Probable teams:

Olympique Marseille - Steve Mandanda; Laurent Bonnart, Ronald Zubar, Hilton, Taye Taiwo; Hatem Ben Arfa, Modeste Mbami, Mathieu Valbuena, Benoit Cheyrou; Bakary Kone, Mamadou Niang.

Liverpool - Pepe Reina; Alvaro Arbeloa, Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Fabio Aurelio; Yossi Benayoun, Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Ryan Babbel; Dirk Kuyt, Robbie Keane.

Jean-Francois Rosnoblet
Source:
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