Sporting Life 16 August 2007
Liverpool's stars believe they will have recovered from their Champions League ordeal in the hot-house of Toulouse in time to face bitter rivals Chelsea on Sunday.
Liverpool returned from south west France after their 1-0 third qualifying round first-leg success in high spirits after surviving the intense heat of an afternoon kick-off.
Boss Rafael Benitez questioned the start time afterwards - temperatures touched 35 degrees during the match - saying: "It was a very strange time to play a match as important as the Champions League."
TV schedules in the UK and France, plus a full French league programme in the evening, dictated the kick-off time which left Liverpool's players physically drained.
Their recovery time now will be the key ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League showdown with Chelsea at Anfield.
But Benitez, defender Steve Finnan and new-boy Ryan Babel all believe they can overcome the situation. Finnan said: "It was one of the hottest games I have played in. There were some tired legs out there towards the end, it was a good workout for us. "Yes, we will feel it over the next couple of days, but we are not playing until Sunday.
"That's one more day than we usually get, so we will be fine by the time Chelsea comes around. They have played during midweek too, so there will be no excuses."
And Finnan reckons the performance will give the club a further boost as they look to continue their good start to the season.
He said: "That was a really good result for us, especially considering they beat Lyon at home at the weekend. We got an away goal and a clean sheet, and that's what we would have hoped for before the match.
"It puts us in a great position, but we cannot take anything for granted. We have still got to finish the job at Anfield."
New signing Andriy Voronin claimed the only goal of the game with a fierce strike just before the interval at the Municipal Stadium.
Babel made his full debut and lasted the 90 minutes, saying afterwards: "We did well as a team to get a result like that in such conditions. "It is not something I have experienced much in the past, maybe a couple of games in such temperatures, but not often.
"I was pleased with my first start for Liverpool. I have much to learn still but I know I can grow with this team and grow into it.
"It was good to get a full 90 minutes, that is what I need to be able to make an impression and learn how to play with these players.
"It was a good result, a 1-0 win away in Europe is always a boost. But it is not finished, Toulouse are a good side and maybe once we score at Anfield in the second leg, then it will be finished." Benitez was delighted with the victory and said: "The conditions were terrible, very, very hot and the pitch was so bad the ball didn't run.
"It was also a strange time to play a Champions League match. It gives the players difficulties in their recovery time because of the heat.
"The job is not done, in football you must always be careful and we know they are good on the counter-attack.
"I think we will have enough time to recover for the Chelsea match on Sunday.
"But we must control the recuperation of the players. It does not help that it is Chelsea next. If we were playing another team maybe it would be easier for the players to cope."
He added: "But against Chelsea you need everyone giving 100% of their ability all the time, so we must monitor the players.
"We will need a couple of training sessions to see how each one of them has recovered. Only then will I be able to decide who starts the match against Chelsea."