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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 22, 2007

Rijkaard calls for 'great' comeback at Anfield

BARCELONA, February 22 (Champions League) - Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard admits his side will need to be firing on all cylinders at Anfield if they are to make it through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The reigning European champions face being dumped out of the tournament in the first knockout stage after losing 2-1 in Wednesday's home leg of their last-16 clash with Liverpool.

Rijkaard is aware of the task facing his side, but he is optimistic they can still turn the tie around in England.

'There are still 90 minutes to go in which anything can happen, and the team has to believe in its chances,' he said.

'It's complicated, (we will need) a great night at Anfield where everything is going to have to work.'

Rijkaard also knows his side need to rediscover their killer instinct, which the Dutchman believes was missing during yesterday's first leg.

Barca took the lead through a Deco header in the 14th minute and then proceeded to lay siege to the Liverpool goal for the next 15 minutes.

However, the Catalan giants did not make their dominance count and paid the ultimate price when Craig Bellamy drew Liverpool level just before the break.

'We did not know how to score against Liverpool when we had the chance,' said Rijkaard, who felt Bellamy's goal on the stroke of half-time was a massive psychological blow for his side.

'I think their goal affected us mentally,' the former AC Milan midfielder admitted. 'It was more a question of not knowing how to finish off the game than anything.

'It was the right moment to finish the game, because Liverpool did not look like they had the confidence that they had after they had made it 1-1.

'Whenever you lose a game it is usually because you have lost tactically, but I don't think that was the reason.

'For the first goal we let in, one of their players was clever and took the free-kick quickly.'

Buoyed by Bellamy's strike, Liverpool looked much more of a threat in the second half and it was not a major surprise to see them net a second goal 16 minutes from time through John Arne Riise.

Before that effort went in Rijkaard had already made two attacking substitutions in a bid to win the game, with Andres Iniesta and Ludovic Giuly replacing Thiago Motta and Xavi Hernandez.

Those two changes meant Barca had very little defensive cover in midfield, but Rijkaard believes his side are at their best when they are taking the game to their opponents.

'I could easily tell all my players to play it tight at the back like they do, but I don't think that is Barcelona's strength,' he said.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has urged the players to put this defeat behind them as soon as possible and look to bounce back quickly.

'(We need) to forget this game, where we have let in some strange goals,' he said on Barca TV.

'We have the team to beat Liverpool and at moments like this I prefer to stay optimistic.'

Barcelona, who also lost 2-1 at Valencia in the Primera Liga last weekend, are next in action against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend.

After that they face four crucial league and cup games which could make or break their season.

In the league they play joint leaders Sevilla as well as arch-rivals Real Madrid, while in the Copa del Rey they go to Real Zaragoza in the return meeting of their quarter-final match needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.

In the midst of all that, Barca also have their trip to Anfield on March 6, where the Catalan giants could see their reign as European champions come to an end.