Jamie Carragher has warned that Liverpool could pay the ultimate price for complacency if they underestimate Standard Liege in Wednesday’s Champions League qualifier second-leg at Anfield.
Rafa Benitez’s team, who lifted the European Cup for a fifth time by beating AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005, face a nervous return leg against the Belgian champions after failing to score in a tense 0-0 draw in the first leg two weeks ago.
If the second-leg ends as a scoring draw, Liverpool will be knocked out before the Champions League group stages and forced to look ahead instead to a UEFA Cup campaign.
But former England defender Carragher insists that Liverpool will not allow themselves to go into Wednesday’s game with any thoughts of taking Liege lightly.
He said: “They are definitely the toughest opponents we’ve had in a Champions League qualifier. I know people expect us to get through, but it’s not as if we’re playing a Mickey Mouse team.
“The Belgian league has a lot of quality and their champions are used to getting into the group stages. We had a tough match against Anderlecht a few years ago, so I’m not surprised Liege caused us problems.
“They caught us a bit cold in the first leg, but you have to remember that they had gone something like 30 games unbeaten in their own league and they are a club with European pedigree.
“We didn’t play well and we know we’ll have to improve at Anfield. Everyone knows how important it is for our season to get into the group stage.
“It’s always a funny time for us to have such a massive game before we’ve got going in the season. Some of our results have reflected that.
“We lost at home to AK Graz in the year we won the competition and had a narrow win in the last minute against Maccabi Haifa two years ago, so anyone thinking we’ll win comfortably knows that’s very dangerous.”
Argentinian midfielder Javier Mascherano is unlikely to play for Liverpool, despite returning from the Beijing Olympics on Sunday.
But Irish forward Robbie Keane is expected to continue his fledgling strike partnership with Fernando Torres and the former Spurs player admits that he is determined to ensure that his Liverpool career ultimately delivers the trophies that he has struggled to amass at previous clubs.
Keane said: “I believe I’m at the top of my game right now and, like any player, I want to win things. I don’t want to look back on my career and think I only won the Carling (League) Cup.
“I want to push on and win more and that’s one of the reasons why I came to Liverpool. Another reason is the fact that I’ve always been a fan and if I could win something with this team, it would be a dream come true.”
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