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Five Aside
By ESPN Staff

Liege boss wary of Gerrard & Torres partnership

Standard Liege boss Laszlo Boloni admits he fears the damage Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard's partnership can do to his young team.

The Belgian title holders will prepare for their Champions League third qualifying round second leg with confidence after the 0-0 draw they achieved in Liege a fortnight ago.

Standard deserved to win that match, but at Anfield tomorrow Boloni sees Torres and Gerrard as the main obstacle to his club reaching the group stages for the first time.

Boloni won the European Cup 22 years ago in the infamous Steaua Bucharest side that overcame Terry Venables' Barcelona in a boring goalless clash in Seville after which the Romanians were accused of playing for penalties from the start.

Boloni scored in that penalty shoot-out, and many feel Liege will need that level of defiance to survive against a chastened Liverpool.

And to do so, Liege will have to nullify the threat of Torres and Gerrard, the pair only playing together in the first leg for 30 minutes because of the Liverpool captain's groin injury.

Boloni said: ''What does concern me is the relationship that Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard have achieved.

''They are two fine players and have a fine link, something they have struck up very quickly as players. It is very important to Liverpool, they know each other's game very well.

''But then Liverpool can be dangerous from every part of the field, we will have to be very careful. If I was 30 years younger, I would love to be involved myself.''

Boloni has taken over as Liege coach this season, the club fresh from their first domestic title in 25 years.

And he sees coaching a victory at Anfield comparable to anything he achieved as a player.

He said: ''Over three or four years at Steaua, I cannot say to anyone that we were the best, but we were beating the best.

''For Standard to win here would be comparable to anything I achieved as a player at Steaua.''

Liege will have American defender Oguchi Onyewu, who had a spell at Newcastle, back from suspension.

Injury doubts over Wilfried Dalmat have eased with the midfielder training tonight with the squad at Anfield.

And there could also be a place back in the squad for Serbian forward Milan Jovanovic. He was not risked in the first leg because of a potential sale to either PSV Eindhoven or Marseille.

Liege did not want to cup-tie him in Europe, but as the expected bids have not materialised, he is likely now to be involved in the second leg.

Boloni sees more pressure on Liverpool, and said: ''Liverpool will be very responsible, they will know their roles and what they have to do. But maybe there is more responsibility on Liverpool to win and to get through than there is for us.

''The pressure is on them, maybe if we score it will become even more difficult and more pressure for them.

''I cannot see this game going to penalties. We have to score, they have to score, so I expect both teams to attack.

''The Champions League has the biggest respect, and players need that attention for them to grow and improve. We are in the Champions League and aim to stay in it, but if it has to be the UEFA Cup then we will take that just as seriously.

''We aim to profit from this moment, it is our aim to learn and to progress in Europe. That is important for Standard and also Belgian football.''

He continued: ''The first match was full of high drama especially for us. But at the end my players earned the respect of our fans, but the biggest outcome of the night was that we won the respect of Liverpool.

''I will be happy if I can say the same thing after the second leg, regardless of the result, that my players have earned the respect of everyone at Liverpool.

''We have a very young side, most of them have their whole careers ahead of them.

''I have told them that should enjoy the moment, get as much out of it to help your future careers as you can.

''But I hope that this match will not be the most important of their lives, I hope they will have many more bigger matches for their club and their countries.''


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