Raheem Sterling ready for Besiktas clash

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Raheem Sterling has insisted that Liverpool are looking to take the game to Besiktas when the pair meet in the second-leg of the Europa League tonight.

The Reds head into the clash with a slender but precious 1-0 lead after Mario Balotelli netted a late penalty in the first leg last week.

For much of that game, the Turkish side frustrated Brendan Rodgers' men when they lined-up well and kept a tight line to limit Liverpool's chances.

With a place in the last 16 of the Europa League at stake, both side's know how important it is to get a result in Istanbul.

Trailing from the first-leg, Besiktas - who lost their spot at the top of the Turkish Super League last weekend - must come at Liverpool as they look to level the tie up.

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Rodgers could set his side up to defend their one goal lead, however Sterling has admitted that they will instead take the front foot.

“I think it’s going to be a really difficult game,” the winger said during the pre-match press conference.

“Coming away to play in Turkey, it’s going to be difficult and we know that.

“We’ve got to stick to our game-plan that the manager has set out for us. That’s no different for tomorrow night.

“We’ll be trying to play possession football and try to play really attacking football at the same time.

“I think it should be a really good game and hopefully we can just play the football that we know we can play.”

Right Tactics

Going into the game, Besiktas have kept just two clean sheets from their last 15 games.

Although they lined up well at Anfield, Slaven Bilic's side have to go all guns blazing at Liverpool and must score.

Demba Ba broke Kopites' hearts last season when he scored for Chelsea and all but took away any chance of the Reds winning the Premier League title. 

Ba had just one clear-cut chance in the first-leg for his new Turkish outfit when his effort was smartly stopped by Simon Mignolet, however he will desperately be looking to improve on that effort.

When Liverpool thrive it is usually when they play in open games that are end to end. Their performances against Tottenham Hotspur twice in the Premier League, Chelsea over two legs in the Capital One Cup and 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup were highlights and came when both team's desperately searched for goals.

The three-time winners of the competition have plenty of pace in their squad with the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe and will look to inflict that speed into their game.

Dangling Carrot

Liverpool are on a fantastic run of form and have lost just one game in their last 17. 

However, their performance against Southampton last weekend was far from convincing and although the Merseyside club won the game 2-0, they spent large periods on the back foot.

It may have been a case of a 'Europa League hangover' having played the previous Thursday and then the Sunday.

The Reds meet Manchester City on Sunday in the Premier League and have little more than just two days to prepare for the game by the time they fly back from Istanbul.

Rodgers has took a smaller arsenal to the Turkish capital however it is one that still consists of Sturridge, Sterling and Ibe who are key players.

A top-four finish would be a great achievement for Liverpool come May and now that they sit just two points from that position there are Kopites who would sacrifice the Europa League to guarantee Champions League football next season.

As well as that, the Reds have marched into the quarter-final of the FA Cup and meet Championship side Blackburn next month. 

With both of those goals realistic, it could be made a lot easier by dropping out of the Europa League.

However, the newly added prize of an automatic Champions League spot next year seems to be keeping Rodgers interested and is somewhat of a dangling carrot.

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Raheem Sterling
Premier League

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