Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is counting on a famous Anfield European night atmosphere to inspire his side to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Zenit St Petersburg.
Brendan Rodgers is counting on the Anfield crowd to inspire his Liverpool side to victory over Zenit St Petersburg.
Rodgers was left ruing a host of missed chances in Russia last week before Zenit struck twice in the second half to put themselves in a commanding position for the second-leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.
The crowd at Liverpool’s hallowed home has played its part in some memorable Champions League triumphs in recent years and Rodgers believes they can do likewise on Thursday, albeit in the Europa League.
"The noise level is so important,” he told Liverpool’s official website. “There'll be 40,000 here and with the roar that can feel like 100,000 people.”
"The history of the club is based on great European nights. Of course we would rather have the game in a better situation but it should be really exciting for us.
Rodgers has also been keen to stress that, despite their deficit, patience will be key to turning the tie around.
"It's important that we stay focused and patient, and the crowd stay patient,” he added. “We don't need to win the game in the first 10 minutes or get two goals in the first 10. We've got 90 minutes and possibly extra time.”
Liverpool forward Fabio Borini has been ruled out for the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder against Swansea on Sunday. Defender Martin Skrtel is a doubt with a knee problem. January signings Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are cup-tied.
Despite not having played a competitive match since December before last week’s first leg, Zenit appeared in good condition in establishing a commanding lead in the tie. Coach Luciano Spalletti looks likely to stick with the same lineup.
D: Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique
M: Gerrard, Lucas
Downing, Henderson, Sterling
Zenit St Petersburg (probable)
D: Anyukov, Neto, Lombaerts, Hubocan
M: Witsel, Denisov, Shirokov
F: Hulk, Kerzhakov, Danny
Prediction: While Rodgers was quick to lament Liverpool’s missed chances and talk up his side’s performance in Russia, it was Zenit that controlled the game in the midfield. Liverpool will have to be far better in limiting the influence of Russia captain Igor Denisov, in particular, at Anfield.
Counting in Liverpool’s favor is that Zenit have not been strong on the road in Europe in recent seasons and even in the Champions League group stages this campaign. The passionate support at Anfield should also give the home side a big lift.
But it is a significant blow being without Sturridge, with Liverpool looking far more cohesive and threatening going forward when he is in the side. Add the fact that Liverpool will be playing their fourth match in 10 days, and they look set to fall short of overturning the two-goal deficit.
Liverpool 1-1 Zenit St Petersburg
Where to watch: The second leg of the Europa League round-of-32 tie will kick-off at 3.05 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Soccer Plus, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.
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