As all 5 British clubs moved in to the next round of the Champions League (the draw is next Friday) the Reds boss and the midfield man Xabi Alonso both sounded the bells of caution for the rest of the campaign.
We were expecting some serious fighting talk after winning the group but as fate would have it most of the ‘best’ sides in the competition (apart from us of course) appear to have finished second – giving them a chance of facing the reds in the knockout stages which begin in February.
Benitez said: “It will be difficult now because they are all top teams.”
“Last season we drew Benfica and everyone said it would be easy, but we lost.”
“Yes, my old club (Real Madrid) are in the hat and we could face them, but I would prefer to wait and see.
“We might be drawn against someone we feel we can handle, but they could be much stronger by the time the knock-out phase starts in February because of the transfer window.”
Liverpool certainly didn’t have an easy trip to winning the Champions League in 2005 facing Juventus, Chelsea and Leverkusen on the way to AC Milan in the final.
Xabi Alonso seemed even more in need of a change of underpants when he spoke earlier today.
“Now, I would prefer to avoid Barcelona.
“Maybe it would be great to meet them in the semi-final or the final. But whoever we are drawn against will be tough, the teams that have qualified are very difficult.
“But we are confident in ourselves, we know we can beat the best sides.”
He added: “We know whoever we get in the next round will be really tough but it will also be exciting.
“You can see the teams who will be involved and how strong those who finished in second are.
“Last season we felt happier being drawn against Benfica, a supposedly weaker side, but we lost both matches at this stage.
“We’ll have to be ready. Real or Barcelona could also be the next game, but we’ve played a few games in Spain in the recent years and always done well, so if we meet either of those clubs we’ll know it will be a massive game for the club, but we’ll see.
“When we won the trophy in 2005, we were never favourites in any game we played, and depending on the draw that may be the case again, which could suit us.
“It was definitely good the year we won it when everyone thought we would lose to Juventus and then Chelsea and Milan. I hope that would be a good omen for us.”
One thing looks fairly sure though – this season will probably see another all British or all English game in the Champions League with Celtic a possibility in the next round, and English clubs allowed to face each other in the Quarter Finals.
Are Rafa and Xabi right to be nervous about the next round – or can we take on anybody with the second leg being at Anfield?