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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 13, 2008

Benitez hails new Keane & Torres partnership

Rafael Benitez reckons he has a strike force as good as anything in Europe as he prepares Liverpool for tonight's Champions League qualifier. Spanish star Fernando Torres and new recruit Robbie Keane are expected to be sent out against Belgian champions Standard Liege to shoot Liverpool into the group stages.

This third qualifying round, first leg, should not be too demanding for Liverpool, who have never lost an away leg at this stage of the competition.

And Benitez is banking on Torres and Keane for the goals.

He said: 'Keane and Torres are clever players, they scored plenty of goals last season and when they have played a lot more games together for us, they will score here too.

'These two strikers are top class, and they can be at the level of anyone in this competition. They will get better and better.

'They will need time. It has been a difficult summer with players arriving for training at different stages, but I have no worries about them in the future.'

But Benitez warns against complacency against Liege, saying: 'Liege are in good form, they beat Anderlecht last weekend in the Belgian super cup, and last season in their league they barely lost a game and went over 30 without defeat at one stage.

'They did not concede many goals, they have a strong defence and a quick attack. We must concentrate.'

Benitez will put aside the turmoil of yet another week of internal crisis at Liverpool, with his move for Gareth Barry all but vetoed by the club's American owners.

Asked whether he had made any contact with owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to discuss the current crisis, Benitez would only say: 'I am not thinking about signing players at the moment, because they cannot play against Liege. I am only concentrating on this game.

'And I have not needed to contact the owners because they cannot help with the preperation for this match. I prefer not to say anything else.

'I was really calm last week, and I am concentrating on the game. We did not have big problems.

'I have not been distracted, I have been focusing on this game and getting to the Champions League group stages.'

Benitez, aware of the financial disaster that has overwhelmed Rangers following their Champions League exit to Kaunus last week, said: 'I always have confidence in my players, but when you play against anyone in Europe you have to be very careful. We know Standard are a good team, especially at home.'

Skipper Steven Gerrard trained last night with the squad and is expected to play after recovering from a thigh strain.

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