Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Liverpool Sweats Champions League Second Leg v. Liege

Barcelona is through. Juventus and Panathinaikos too. Match Day 2 of third-round qualifying for the 2008-09 Champions League is upon us today. Just call it Drama Day.

While it was a lock for the aforementioned three European powers to get through following their first-leg performances, not so today for a host of clubs including Liverpool.

The Reds host Standard Liege today, and they're in a favorable position after having drawn 0-0 in Belgium last week. But one away goal from Standard, and Liverpool will be scrambling for two goals in front of a suddenly hostile home crowd. Liverpool has been in decent form through two weeks in the Premier League, winning both times, the latest on a late game-winner from Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard and Torres have the attention of Liege manager Laszlo Boloni, who is saying all the right things heading into today's match. Liverpool won't have Javier Mascherano and Lucas in the lineup; both have just returned from the Olympics. Sami Hyypia is injured, and that's a hole in the back line. Ryan Babel, Xabi Alonso and Jermaine Pennant should also be available despite also appearing in the Olympics (Babel) or the speculation of transfer rumors (Alonso and Pennant).

Liege, meanwhile, will ride Mbokani Bezua (four goals in two season-opening games) and Steven Defour and Oguchi Onyewu.

Also worth watching today:
  • Arsenal hosting Twente of Holland after winning a 2-0 opening leg.
  • Guimaraes in a huge battle on the road against Basel after a 0-0 opening leg. This would be Guimaraes' first time in the group stage; and remember, they would have automatically qualified for the group stage had Porto's suspension from the tournament not been upheld.
  • Fenerbhace hosts Partizan needing to hold after a 2-2 road match.
  • Atletico Madrid hosts Schalke, down a goal.
Remember, the group stage draw is tomorrow.

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