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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 13 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 19, 2008

Rafa: Confidence not a problem at Anfield

Rafael Benitez claims the confidence of his Liverpool players has remained unbroken despite their shock exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Championship side Barnsley. Liverpool's last remaining hope of silverware this season is the Champions League - but they must overcome the daunting prospect of Inter Milan in the last 16 of the competition. The Reds face the Serie A champions, unbeaten in the league this season, at Anfield tonight and again in Milan on March 11. Such has been the growing crisis at Anfield in the past three months, it might be assumed Liverpool's self-belief would be rock-bottom. But Benitez insists his players are in the right frame of mind for the visit of the Nerazzurri. 'I believe confidence is okay,' he said. 'We played well against Sunderland and Chelsea - and against Barnsley we know we had a lot of opportunities we should have taken. 'Now we must prepare properly. Mentally the team is ready, and I believe this coming game will be a lot different to the one against Barnsley. 'Everyone is disappointed by the FA Cup result against Barnsley - the players, the staff, everyone in the club. But we cannot change anything now. 'The atmosphere between the players is not as bad as people seem to think. They will try to win this game and I am sure they can do it. 'Then, if we beat Middlesbrough next Saturday here, everything will look different.' Benitez rested Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Jose Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio for the 2-1 defeat against the Tykes. The Spanish coach will have all of them available for the visit of Roberto Mancini's side, who have not lost a game in the league this season and have conceded just 13 goals in Serie A. Benitez, who ignored claims that his job rests on the result of the tie, has reiterated his 'total commitment' to the club. 'When you lose it is important to have another game in a couple of days,' he said. 'Inter Milan are a top side in Italy and Europe, but if we can beat them it will change a lot of the things being said about us. 'Every game is an opportunity for us to change the situation - we will continue to try to do that. 'You do not need to say too much to the players in this competition, because they know how important it is. 'We must keep going, thinking about the Champions League and fourth place in the league. We must progress as far as we can in Europe and make sure we are fourth, at least.'