Football

Liverpool face 'meaningless' match

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The true measure of Liverpool's Champions League humiliation will really hit home next week when they face a meaningless Group E match against Fiorentina.

Liverpool are already out of the competition with one match still to go and all that boss Rafael Benitez can really look forward to is the prospect that both Fernando Torres - still fighting to recover from a groin problem - and £20million midfielder Alberto Aquilani could play.

Benitez said: "Fernando was not quite ready to play at Blackburn but we are working on him playing against Fiorentina. The same applies to Aquilani, this might be the right moment to play him from the start of a match after his long-term ankle injury."

That will be scant consolation for the fans, who have become accustomed to seeing Liverpool facing an exciting final group match with qualification at stake.

This time they will be the supporting cast watching an Italian side celebrating their first qualification for the last 16 for 10 years.

The only remaining issue is whether Fiorentina can claim the win to secure top spot in the group above Lyon.

Liverpool have only the Europa League to look forward to after Christmas, with the draw for the last 32 taking place on December 18.

Benitez may well leave out the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Jose Reina on Wednesday ahead of the far more important home Premier League game against Arsenal on December 13.

Their route back into the Champions League depends on a top four-finish now but Benitez said: "It is important that we put on a good performance, play well and win. That can only help our confidence in the future.

"But I may well use some players who are not usually involved in the first-team starting line-up. But we have to win. We must show quality and give the fans a good game."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Europa League
Arsenal
European News
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Jose Reina
Premier League
Fernando Torres
UEFA Champions League
Steven Gerrard
Jamie Carragher
Liverpool
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