Benitez wary of Manchester City threat
Friday 19 February 2010
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez admits he will be happy his team do not have to face striker Carlos Tevez at Eastlands on Sunday, but is still wary of Manchester City's quality.
The Argentina international, who Liverpool tried to sign in the summer, is currently in his homeland on compassionate leave after his wife gave birth prematurely.
And while he will not feature in a clash which could have a major bearing on who finishes fourth in the Barclays Premier League, Benitez is aware there are many other players who can hurt his side.
"Clearly he is a good player who is doing well," said the Spaniard of the 19-goal striker.
"But they have other good strikers, so I think they have enough quality in the squad and can replace Tevez with another good player.
"If Tevez is not there and they miss him we will be pleased, but I will say again, they have quality."
Tevez's international team-mate Javier Mascherano knows exactly what the striker offers but expects City to be able to cope without him.
"He is a really good player but Manchester City have a lot of really good players so if he doesn't play, they will use a player who will try to do the same as him," said the Argentina captain.
"They are a top side with some really good players. I think it will be a really important game and will be a good game to watch."
Benitez has tried to play down the significance of the match, with City currently occupying the final Champions League spot one point ahead of Liverpool and with a match in hand.
He believes there is plenty of time remaining in the season for things to change significantly - especially with Tottenham and Aston Villa also challenging.
"It will be an important game for both teams and we will try to win," he said.
"If you cannot, it is better not to lose, but the main thing for us is to try to win.
"We will try to attack and we know we will have to score goals if we want to win.
"They are an attacking team and we will have to attack too, so I think it will be open."
Mascherano also believes that one match will not decide the Champions League fate of either side.
"We are one point behind them and some teams are very close to us so it's important to get the three points," said the midfielder.
"I think it's an important game but if any team lost, nothing will happen.
"There are still a lot of games to play so it will be an important game but it will decide nothing."
The side will have been lifted by last night's 1-0 victory over Unirea Urziceni, having seen their seven-match unbeaten Barclays Premier League run ended by Arsenal last week.
Vice-captain Jamie Carragher singled out the impact of substitutes Ryan Babel and Daniel Pacheco, with the former crossing for his team-mate to head across goal for David Ngog to score with nine minutes to go.
"Ryan and Dani did very well when they came on and made a big contribution for the goal," said the defender.
"They gave us a bit of a lift and more energy and that's what we needed. They made the difference.
"It would have been nice to get a few more but hopefully we can get an away goal and finish the game off next week."
Highly-rated reserve team striker Pacheco was making only his third appearance for the senior side, but the young Spaniard hopes to be able to play a bigger part in the remainder of the season.
"I was very happy to get involved with the game and help the team out and I think everyone was quite happy at the end," said the 19-year-old.
"It is always a good thing when the manager is talking about you but I know I have to keep working, keep listening and doing my best for the reserves.
"I've got to keep my feet on the floor. I hope I will get more chances in the future and do the same again.
"We can now think about Manchester City. If I get a chance again, I hope I will take it but we will see what happens."
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