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Desperate Liverpool

Posted: 16 Mar 2011 11:14 PM PDT

Dalglish must win championship to stay in Europe

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 14:03:00


MEN ON MISSION: Liverpool's Caroll (sixth from left) runs with teammates during a training session at their Melwood Training Ground ahead of their match against Braga

LIVERPOOL: Kenny Dalglish knows Liverpool may have to win the Europa League to be back in it next season but he is taking it one game at a time.

An all-Manchester FA Cup semifinal means that unless either United or City finish outside the top four, the European place allocated to the FA Cup champions will go to either Stoke or Bolton.

That leaves fifth place in the Premier League as the remaining qualification spot — unless Liverpool can win the Europa League and thereby enter next season's competition as champions.

With fifth-placed Tottenham six points ahead with a match in hand that may be the likely scenario for the Reds, although Dalglish will not give up on catching Spurs in their remaining nine league matches until it is mathematically impossible to do so.

Overcoming a 1-0 deficit from their last-16 first-leg Europa League tie is well within Liverpool's capabilities as Braga did not suggest a week ago that there was anything to fear from them when the two clash again at Anfield tomorrow (4.05am).

"We can only deal with this game. We can't think too far ahead," said Dalglish.

"We want to be playing at the highest level we possibly can. To do that we have to win matches, starting with the game tomorrow. We've got to win by two goals to maintain our European status this year.

"Every game for us is really important. That starts tomorrow and continues until the end of the season. Where we get to after that will only be determined by how well we do.

"European football and this football club are synonymous. We'd love that to continue."

The five-time European champions and three-time Uefa Cup winners last failed to qualify for continental competition in 1999, when they finished seventh in the league.

The Reds bounced back to make the Champions League the following year and have been a regular on the European circuit ever since, winning their fifth crown in Istanbul in 2005 and reaching the final again two years later.

However, with the domestic balance of power having changed somewhat with Spurs' increasing strength and Manchester City's vast wealth, a swift return to the elite competition appears a distant dream at the moment.

But that is not an issue which concerns Dalglish, who can at least take solace from the fact Liverpool cannot play as badly tomorrow as they did in their opening 45 minutes in Braga.

"I don't think they were too offensive at home," he said.

"I would expect Braga to be pretty much how they were in the first-leg, that seems to be their style of play home or away."

Liverpool are without the injured trio of Steven Gerrard, Martin Kelly and Fabio Aurelio while Luis Suarez is ineligible.

Record signing striker Andy Carroll is in the squad, although he may have to settle for a place on the substitutes' bench again.

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Inter exploited Bayern's weak defence, says Lucio

Posted: 16 Mar 2011 11:11 PM PDT

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 14:03:00

MILAN: Inter Milan centreback Lucio (pic) revealed how they destroyed Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena in the Champions League on Tuesday and then rejected a return to his former club.

The defending Italian and European champions amazingly came from 2-1 down to win 3-2 in Munich against the German giants during the second-leg of their last-16 tie, going through to the quarterfinals on away goals.

Lucio, who joined Inter from Bayern in 2009 and played against the German giants in the final of the same competition last season, knew where to hit their opponents.

"After seeing Bayern miss so many chances, we told ourselves that qualification was not lost," said the Brazil international.

"We thought an equaliser on the night would've given us hope for a final push and that proved to be the case. Of course, we hit Bayern in their weak spot. We knew their defence wasn't of a good level and made the most of our scoring opportunities."

The 32-year-old also expressed his sorrow at Bayern's exit but rejected a return to his old club in the future.

"I am happy for Inter and a little sorry for my former fans," said Lucio.

"Half of my heart is for the Bavarians and I could've ended my career in Germany, but Louis van Gaal, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness made me leave. I wouldn't go back to Bayern now, as I am part of Inter."

Meanwhile, Inter's controversial defender Marco Materazzi responded to Bayern's Bastian Schweinsteiger, who on Tuesday said "now I understand Zinedine Zidane" after their defeat.

Schweinsteiger accused Materazzi of provoking him before and after the match as his side crashed out of Europe.

But Materazzi believes it was Schweinsteiger who was doing all the talking.

"Just two words are dedicated to Schweinsteiger who, to do an original thing, said I was provoking," Materazzi told Inter's website.

"It's a shame that he has been speaking for weeks. He said they would gain revenge for Madrid (where Bayern lost in the final), that we would play like Italians, that he only knew Milan players...but now he knows us too.

"And thanks to goodness it was me who was provoking. I told him that you should always talk after you win, not before."

Inter are waiting tomorrow's draw to find out who they will meet in the last eight.

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