Liverpool are gearing up to face the Hungarian champions, not only is victory essential but also casting one eye over on results in Florence, hoping that a Liverpool win is matched by Lyon getting something from the game in Italy.
Rafa Benitez has ensured Liverpool have qualified for the knockout stages in every year he has been at the club, taking the reds to two finals, one semi final and one quarter final, generating the clubs owners around £150M in the process.
Liverpool met Debrecen for the first time in the first group stage game when Dirk Kuyt gave the reds all three points in a 1-0 victory. Since then, Liverpool’s European campaign has been one of woe. Outclassed by Fiorentina away, the reds were then undone twice late on by Lyon at home and away, throwing points away after leading. At Anfield, two late goals ensured Lyon took all 3 points, and despite a professional performance in France, the reds let it slip in the final moments as Lyon equalised to guarantee themselves qualification.
Lyon are through to the knockout stages. All possibilities for the reds depend on us winning in Hungary. If we do and Fiorentina also win then we are out. If Lyon win, then the reds will need to beat Fiorentina in the final game. If the match in Italy is a draw then the reds will need to then go and beat Fiorentina by 3 clear goals. (They lost 2-0 against Fiorentina so would need a 3 goal margin – if we were to then win by 2 goals then Fiorentina would go through on goal difference).
Injuries, injuries, injuries. Liverpool have taken 18 players to Hungary. Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel are amongst those players left at home. Daniel Agger is included after suffering a nasty face injury early against Man City, and Glen Johnson also travels with the squad.
The reds have won 1, drawn 1 and lost twice in this years Champions League, placing them on 4 points. Recent form in other competitions has also been poor. The reds have one win in 10 games, and that was a comprehensive victory against the English Champions.
Liverpool –(from) Pepe Reina, Diego Cavalieri, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Fabio Aurelio, Emiliano Insua, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel, Andrea Dossena, Alberto Aquilani, Steven Gerrard, Yossi Benayoun, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva, Jay Spearing, Dirk Kuyt, David Ngog.
Johnson was absent from the weekend, and Babel and Agger were early casualties in the game. Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera were set to be out for a month but Yossi managed to last about 60 minutes against Man City. Whether he will be ready to start will remain to be seen. Liverpool may elect to use Fabio Aurelio on the left wing.
Possible starting XI – Reina, Insua, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio Mascherano, Leiva, Gerrard, Kuyt, Ngog
Debrecen VSC: Possible starting XI – (probable, 4-4-2): Poleksic; Bodnar, Komlosi, Mate, Leandro; Ramos, Kiss, Szakaly, Czvitkovics; Coulibaly, Rudolf.
Liverpool’s constant injuries have meant plenty of shuffling at the back and the reds have not yet pinned down a stable defence. The results have been costly, with Liverpool far more goals than their usually excellent defence is used to.
Debrecen can score as well, as they proved only the other week away in Fiorentina.
Even with a lack of confidence, Liverpool should be too strong for the Hungarians.
Debrecen 1-3 Liverpool
TV and Online
The match will be broadcast on Sky Sports 2 in the UK. Further information is available in the forum