Sunday, September 15, 2019

Revitalised Torres leaves PSV facing Anfield trial

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Sep 2008


PSV Eindhoven's hopes of Champions League survival have already suffered a huge blow at the hands of the Spanish following Atletico Madrid's 3-0 win in the Philips Stadium two weeks ago.

Now the Dutch giants face the daunting prospect of keeping Atletico old boy Fernando Torres under tabs if they are to revive their bid to reach the knockout stages at the expense of Liverpool at Anfield here on Wednesday.

Rafael Benitez's side are unbeaten this season and Torres's return to goalscoring form has left Liverpool's Spanish manager brimming with optimism about the rest of the campaign.

Torres had appeared to be suffering something of a hangover from his efforts in Spain's triumphant Euro 2008 campaign but he looked back to his best as he claimed both goals in the derby win over Everton at the weekend.

“Fernando is the kind of player who can change games and it is very positive for us that he has confidence now,” Benitez said.

“He's a threat for defenders and the only thing he is missing at the moment is his physical condition. When he came back from the European Championships it was important for him to rest and then train properly.

“He had an injury and he still has to improve physically. He is working so hard and he will get better – he will have more pace and be stronger.”

Torres claimed a remarkable haul of 33 goals last season in his first term on Merseyside. Benitez is not insisting on a similar return this time around but believes Torres can make an even bigger all-round contribution to his side.

“Fernando knows he can still improve a lot and the main thing for me is that his mentality is really good. He scored 33 last season but I haven't set him a target this season. If he scores 32 I will be pleased!”

In contrast to Liverpool's bright start to the season, PSV have struggled for form and even head coach Huub Stevens admitted their fans had been entitled to boo his players off the pitch after a lacklustre 1-0 win over the Dutch league's FC Volendam at the weekend.

Stevens has never won a match in England – as a player with PSV or as a coach with former club Schalke – and the most recent meetings of the two clubs do not augur well, PSV having failed to score in any of the four meetings between them in the 2006-07 season.

A goalless draw in Eindhoven was followed by a 2-0 defeat at Anfield in the group stages before Liverpool eased through the quarter-final 4-0 on aggregate, and Stevens recognises his side will have to be much better than they were at home to Atletico.

“We know we just have to learn from what happened, because going to Liverpool will be even more difficult,” He said. “But we have only played one match, there are still five to go so we can turn this round.

“Madrid struck against us at the right moments, and we must not let Liverpool do the same to us.”

PSV will arrive at Anfield with some familiar faces, with former Liverpool defender Jan Kromkamp now a key member of Stevens' squad.

Swedish goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson was at Manchester City until the end of last season, although he may prefer to forget his last outing on English soil, an 8-1 thrashing by Middlesbrough on the last day of the campaign.

Benitez meanwhile is hoping to have midfielders Javier Mascherano and Yossi Benayoun available after they both sat out the Everton match on Saturday with minor injuries.


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