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By ESPN Staff
Aug 12, 2006

We know we can match Chelsea - Benitez

Rafael Benitez sends his Liverpool side into battle with Chelsea in Sunday's Community Shield in Cardiff convinced they are better equipped now to give the west Londoners a run for their masses of money this season.

The Liverpool boss dismisses the intimidation of their chequebook and believes his men can now truly challenge Chelsea at the top.

'They spend more than everybody else every summer, but when we put a side on the pitch against them they know we will match them,' Benitez said.

'We have beaten them in cup competitions, it does not matter how much money they spend, 11 against 11 for us always gives us a chance.'

He added: 'People could see the improvements against Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League, although we know we need too improve.

'We could see the quality with Jermaine Pennant, we have seen Craig Bellamy score and play well, and we still have Fabio Aurelio waiting as he recovers from injury. I think we have signed the right players.

'Compared to last season we have a better squad and week after week we will have a better team as well.'

Liverpool will again be without striker Robbie Fowler (knee) and defender Aurelio (calf) at the Millennium Stadium.

Benitez said: 'If they really had to play they would, but it is not important for this game, we would rather wait until next weekend.'

It means Benitez has to make a decision over whether to start the match with Peter Crouch, who was named only on the bench for the Champions League game because he was not considered fit enough after a late return to training following the World Cup.

He adds: 'We feel we have a better squad than last season, and it is always important to beat the top sides, but this is not a normal pre-season, the internationals are well behind the rest and they are not fit.

'As for this game, if you play against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, you always want to win.

'But in this case it is more important for us to get our own preparation right and not to worry about who we are playing.

'This is an important game, yes, but it does not say that if you win you can win again in the future. It will not mean that much.

'It is good to see us playing Chelsea so much, it means we are always challenging for the big trophies, in semi-finals and finals and around the top of the league.'