Rodgers looks for crowd to inspire
Brendan Rodgers has said Liverpool’s patience could be tested on and off the pitch against Zenit St Petersburg tonight as the overhaul he has instigated will not impact “like a bolt of lightning” at Anfield.
Liverpool must overturn a 2-0 deficit against Russia’s champions in the last-32 tie to preserve their final prospect of silverware this season with Rodgers adamant the first goal will be decisive.
He will be without Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho due to ineligibility and the injured Fabio Borini for the second leg. The former Zenit defender Martin Skrtel is also expected to miss out with a knee problem. The Liverpool manager has called on Anfield to recreate the frenzied atmosphere that swept Rafael Benitez’s team into the Champions League final at the expense of Chelsea in 2005.
Rodgers was present at Anfield that night as Chelsea’s youth team manager and, while seeking a repeat of the noise that he believes prompted the referee to award Luis Garcia’s controversial early goal, he does not want a chaotic start against Zenit.
“The legend of this club has been based on nights like this, big games and big comebacks,” said Rodgers. “I was here for the first Chelsea semi-final, for the ‘ghost goal’. For me, it wasn’t a goal. That was the sheer force of the crowd that got the goal. Jose Mourinho spoke at that time of how he didn’t think it was over the line but the bottom line is that the referee gave it. The atmosphere was as good as you will ever get.”
The Liverpool manager confirmed Jamie Carragher will make his 150th European appearance for the club against Zenit.