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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 10 hours ago
Read
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 4, 2007

Gerets expecting fast-paced match in Marseille

Marseille coach Eric Gerets believes coping with Liverpool's fluid passing game will be the key to success in Tuesday night's make-or-break Champions League clash at the Stade Velodrome.

Gerets admits the Reds are favourites going into a match they have to win if they are to guarantee progression into the knockout stages.

However, Liverpool were expected to win their previous encounter at Anfield earlier in the campaign only for Mathieu Valbuena to stun the hosts with the only goal of the match.

The Merseysiders have improved since then and - Saturday's league defeat to Reading aside - have been in exceptional, free-scoring form.

Gerets knows one facet of Liverpool's game will have to be dealt with if they are to be stopped.

'It will be a fast-paced match,' said the Belgian. 'And in my opinion, Liverpool are going to try to pass the ball around three times quicker than they did on the first match between us.

'That is their strength and it will be up to us to find the a way to stop that.

'I have seen my players improve as well and they don't seem worried - in fact, they are more motivated than ever.'

Gerets accepts Liverpool will start as favourites, but he sees the result as anything but a foregone conclusion.

'It's true that they have more experience than us,' he added.

'With all they have won, and all the matches they have played at the highest level, you can't say anything different.

'But a colleague once said to me about a match, 'On paper, we have no chance'.

'I replied to him that fortunately a match is not played on paper.

'They are slight favourites but we are playing at home in front of own fans and that will mean a lot.'

Club president Pape Diouf hopes the special aura of a European night at the Velodrome will be a decisive factor come kick-off.

The Reds know all about the white-hot atmosphere there - they were dumped out of the UEFA Cup by Marseille in 2004 when a baying crowd helped the home side overturn a one-goal deficit to carry them into the competition's last eight.

There have been many more nights like that down the years and the Group A showdown will surely be another to add to the list.

'We know the Velodrome is going to erupt, and the public will come with much hope to see their team qualify,' said Diouf.

'We are against a European heavyweight. But it is difficult for opponents, even if some Liverpool players are talking about beating us, to come to the Velodrome on European nights.'