The Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will draw on the memory of his side's shocking start against minnows Havant & Waterlooville to warn against complacency in today's FA Cup fifth-round tie with Barnsley.
The non-League side twice went ahead at Anfield in the previous round before Benitez's men belatedly clicked into gear and ended up avoiding any further embarrassment with a 5-2 victory. The Spaniard is adamant his side's experience underlines the fact that his Premier League stars can afford to take nothing for granted against lower division outfits with nothing to lose.
Benitez said: "We have some experience of how difficult these games can be. Everybody says we will beat Barnsley but we must be careful and do the right things. Against Havant & Waterlooville we were thinking about scoring goals and we conceded. If you concede first against whoever you are playing, you will start to get anxious.
"We knew of the dangers before that game but it still happened. This is a cup final for them, so we must give them a lot of respect. If we score first everything will be OK."
Benitez has admitted he has one eye on Tuesday's Champions League game with Internazionale, and must decide whether to risk any of the returning Fernando Torres, Fabio Aurelio, Alvaro Arbeloa and Sami Hyypia. A deepening defensive crisis, with calf injury victim Martin Skrtel joining Daniel Agger on the sidelines, means Benitez's hand could be forced at the back, although it would be a surprise to see Torres in the line-up. "You need to make sure you have the right team and the right player for both games," added Benitez.
"Playing some players might be a risk, so we have to analyse each one and decide because of the Inter game. We are very positive and we want to make the most of both these opportunities, but first it is important to think about Barnsley. The passion of this competition is fantastic and for some teams it is the most important game of their lives. Sometimes you see smaller teams whose players have more passion and commitment, and that is what creates upsets."
Despite his side's virtual elimination from the Premier League title race, Benitez will head into the tie in buoyant mood after the gutsy goalless draw at Chelsea last week. He added: "I think the Chelsea match will prove very, very positive for us in the future. We almost won and we showed how well we can play. It gave us new confidence going into these two cup competitions."Reuse content