03 October 2007

Liverpool v Marseille - Head to head

Liverpool face Marseille in the first home match of their Champions League Group A campaign.

Eric Gerets, Marseille's 15th different manager in the past 10 years, faces a difficult baptism in his first match in charge. He must pit his wits against a man in Rafael Benitez who has led Liverpool to two Champions League finals in the past three years. He does, however, have experience of success in the competition having won it with PSV Eindhoven in 1988. Benitez, who has rotated his squad frequently this season, is again likely to keep his opponents guessing as to his team line-up.

The sides last met in the UEFA Cup fourth round in 2003-04, when the French side prevailed 3-2 on aggregate. A certain Didier Drogba scored in both legs for Marseille. Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia and John Arne Riise all featured for Liverpool but Marseille have no survivors. They do, however, have two former Liverpool players in Djibril Cisse and Boudewijn Zenden.

Marseille won the Champions League in its first season in 1993 but times have changed considerably since then with the club demoted due to financial irregularities. Five-time European Cup winners Liverpool are competing in the group stages for the sixth time.

Liverpool made a flying start to the new campaign before a run of three successive draws last month, including one against Porto in their Champions League opener, slowed their progress. Got back to winning ways with victory at Wigan last weekend. Marseille won just one of their opening nine matches in Ligue 1, a record which cost manager Albert Emon his job. Opened their Champions League campaign with a 2-0 win over Besiktas.

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