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Barca dealing with Copa drama

Barcelona
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By ESPN Staff

Liverpool closing in on successive victories record

Liverpool will warm-up for the FA Cup final with their minds temporarily distracted by club records.

Sunday's trip to Fratton Park, which could have been a fraught battle with a club fighting for their Premiership lives, could now be little more than a training ground exercise with Portsmouth already safe from the drop.

However, if Rafael Benitez's side win it they will set a new club record of 11 successive victories in all competitions, eclipsing a 10-match winning streak set in 1990, their last title-winning year.

Also, the 79 points already amassed by Liverpool is exactly the same as the total that lifted that title, with a last-day 6-1 win at Coventry sealing the crown. The bar has been raised since and 90 points is the minimum needed to win the title now.

Benitez will no doubt be thinking in those terms for any genuine success next term. Meanwhile, two more goals will make it 100 for the season in all competitions and a 34th clean sheet will equal the club record.

It would also mean 23 league clean sheets, which would equal the second highest in the club history. The record is 28 in 1978-79, so Jose Reina has a bit to go before topping that total.

And another victory will ensure Liverpool's highest points tally in a 38-game season, and if you convert every season previously to three points for a win, it will be their highest haul without winning the title since 1969.

All this, though, is an interesting aside to the day's one last target. If Liverpool win and Manchester United fail to beat Charlton, then runners-up spot will be claimed.

Reina, though, would be happy to give up all thoughts of records for an FA Cup winners medal next weekend in Cardiff against West Ham.

He said: 'The clean sheet record is still one of the targets we have, but the most important thing is victory,' said Reina.

'We have two more games left to do it. Sunday is important, but the FA Cup final will be one of the most important games I've ever played.

'It's normal my team-mates and I are already thinking about the final, but there's still a game left which we must try to win.

'But it's difficult to think about the Portsmouth game when you know even if you win it's going to be very difficult to finish second.'

Benitez could consider resting players with Cardiff in mind, and he must decide whether to use Robbie Fowler even though he will be cup-tied for the final.

More likely is that Fernando Morientes and Djibril Cisse will get the chance to claim a place alongside Peter Crouch for the final.