Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rafa: United Do Not Frighten My Players

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rafa: United Do Not Frighten My Players

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Walker

Rafael Benitez last night vowed his side would relish facing Manchester United in the final of the Champions League.

The Liverpool boss ( already embroiled in a war of words, yet again, with Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho ( insists he has not been intimidated by Manchester United's sensational seven-goal performance against Roma.

That came just 24 hours before an efficient Liverpool did "a very professional job" to see off PSV Eindhoven 1-0 in Wednesday's quarter-final second leg to complete a convincing 4-0 aggregate victory.

The difference between the style and entertainment value of the performances by Man United and Liverpool, though, was marked.

Benitez was complimentary and careful with his praise for United but he is also unlikely to have been impressed by the Italians' defending.

It would be hard to imagine a Benitez team allowing United so much freedom on the wings and through the heart of midfield.

And, while many are seriously worried about the security and policing problems of having 80,000 Liverpool and Manchester United fans together in Athens for the final on May 23, Benitez would welcome the challenge.

He said: "What I saw from United didn't surprise me. We know they have been playing really well in recent weeks.

"Then when they started scoring the goals it became harder for Roma, who maybe felt that it had become impossible very early on in the game.

"And if you lack confidence like that, and the other team are playing well, it is always more difficult to respond."

Liverpool must face Chelsea in the semi-finals on April 25 in London and May 1 at Anfield before they can really start dreaming of a clash with United ( or even a repeat of the 2005 final against AC Milan.

But Benitez is confident he can take his side to their second final in three seasons.

He said: "We are in a very good position. To be in the semi-final is surely a great success for us. To do that twice in three years is really important, but now we want to make sure we win the final again.

"We were not intimidated by the football we saw from Manchester United. …

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