Carragher hails tactician Benitez

As Liverpool's supporters savoured the club's arrival alongside the continental élite in the last eight of the Champions' League, the longest-serving player at Anfield hailed the 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen as "the perfect European performance" and highlighted the part Rafael Benitez's methods played in achieving the 6-2 aggregate success.

As Liverpool's supporters savoured the club's arrival alongside the continental élite in the last eight of the Champions' League, the longest-serving player at Anfield hailed the 3-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen as "the perfect European performance" and highlighted the part Rafael Benitez's methods played in achieving the 6-2 aggregate success.

Jamie Carragher is eminently qualified to provide context to Liverpool's progress, having served under Graeme Souness, Roy Evans and Gérard Houllier. The England defender, 27, pointed to Benitez's work on the training ground as the decisive factor in avenging a shattering late defeat in Leverkusen's BayArena in the 2002 quarter-finals.

"We work a lot on tactics as a team, on how we're going to play and on our opponents' weaknesses," Carragher said. "We probably do more tactical work now than I've done with any manager at any level in my career. When [Benitez] has time to prepare the side properly, it's reflected in our football. After international matches, when [we] have only the one day to prepare, we haven't done as well.

"To get this kind of win, especially given Leverkusen's group results, was special. They beat Real Madrid and Michael Owen told me they were one of the best sides he had played against."

Benitez had anticipated intense pressure from Leverkusen and set up Liverpool to play on the break. In the event, the German team piled forward too early, too recklessly and with scant regard to the absence of key defenders. Damningly, they had no apparent strategy for dealing with Steven Gerrard's role in the "hole" behind a lone striker.

Too often, they also left Luis Garcia unmarked. The former Barcelona winger, peripheral in some Premiership away games, visibly gained in confidence. His two early goals killed the contest and if Milan Baros, the third scorer, had been less wasteful, Liverpool might have matched Lyon's 10-2 aggregate against another Bundesliga side, Werder Bremen.

Carragher hoped the "feelgood factor" would spill over into the coming run of home games. Since the first brings Everton to Anfield a week on Sunday, there is no danger of European competition overshadowing domestic matters. But the quarter-final draw, to be held a week today, will be awaited with growing excitement.

"I'm sure we'll be considered outsiders, maybe rightly, because there are a lot of teams left in that win trophies and titles in their own countries," Carragher said. "But the best sides don't always win the Champions' League. Every game will be tight and could go either way. Milan and Chelsea will be looked upon as being among the best teams in Europe. We're probably not up there - but we want to go as far as we can."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea