It's time to get serious, says Liverpool coach

Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez believes his team have finally put behind them the distractions of winning the Champions League last season and will be on song against Real Betis on Tuesday.

Benitez, and the rest of his Spanish contingent among the Reds squad, returned to their native Spain on Monday ahead of their Champions League group G clash with the Sevilla-based side.

“We have come here with the idea of winning this game and definitely not letting in any goals,” said Benitez at a press conference in Seville on Monday.

“I don’t want us giving away silly free kicks because I don’t want to give any opportunities to players like Assuncao,” he added, singling out Betis’s Brazilian danger man and one of the best dead-ball specialists in the world.

“You can’t think about winning titles, not even getting to finals, if you don’t win games.

“The most important thing is to think about things from day to day. Playing Betis is now the most important game for me,” commented a deadly serious Benitez.

“It’s going to be a difficult game because Real Betis are a good team and they are playing in the Champions League for the first time, and this is a game in front of their home fans.”

Fernando Morientes will be missing from the Liverpool line-up after being injured on Spanish international duty last week, but Benitez insisted that his side will still have plenty of fire power.

“Morientes’s absence is a blow, but we have other options with Djibril Cisse, Luis Garcia and Peter Crouch,” added Benitez, although many observers noted that Liverpool were unimpressive in their 0-0 draw with Tottenham on Saturday.

However, Benitez was backed up by Xabi Alonso, who also was sounding optimistic on Monday about the visitors returning to Anfield with three points to their name.

“I’m coming here with a cool head and nobody [in the squad] is now thinking about the fact that we are champions of Europe,” said Liverpool’s Spanish international midfielder.

“We know life is going to be complicated here, but we have the confidence that we are going to come away with a good result, although we have to be cautious,” added Alonso.—Sapa-AFP

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