Articles

Jan Molby profiles Liverpool's players

Liverpool are gunning for their sixth European Cup win when they take on AC Milan in Athens on Wednesday.

The Olympic Stadium will be the scene for a reunion between the sides that featured in the extraordinary 2005 final, when Liverpool battled back from 3-0 down before beating Milan on penalties.

Former Liverpool star Jan Molby checks on the Liverpool squad charged with taking on the Italian giants.

THE MANAGER

RAFAEL BENITEZ Tactically outstanding - as good as anyone when it comes to Europe. You can be certain nothing will be left to chance and Liverpool will be meticulously prepared.

THE GOALKEEPERS

JOSE REINA Reina has convinced the doubters. A great shot-stopper and so quick to spot and react to danger. Maybe a question mark on crosses - but the best keeper in the world against penalties and that could be a match-winner.

JERZY DUDEK There will always be a place in Liverpool history for Dudek after the 2005 win in Istanbul. Unlikely to figure but has shown he has the temperament for these games.

THE DEFENDERS

STEVE FINNAN Finnan has had a superb season. Just got better and better and gives you everything you want from a defender. He may not give a lot going forward but is reliable at the back and is always where you want your defenders to be.

JAMIE CARRAGHER A real talisman and leader. He has settled in central defence after playing in a variety of positions. Every recent Liverpool manager has always found a place for him in their team - and that tells you everything about his importance and quality.

DANIEL AGGER The young Dane has had a superb season. He is very strong mentally and has shown he is not content to only do his defensive duties, scoring the crucial semi-final goal against Chelsea. He also learned from being 'bullied' by Drogba in the first leg - a sign of real character.

ALVARO ARBELOA A reliable defender, who is very much in the mould of what Rafa Benitez wants. Was superb against Barcelona, although I suspect he may not figure in the final.

JOHN ARNE RIISE Had a struggle earlier in the season but has improved. Maybe sees himself more as a left-back these days but has that priceless quality of being able to conjure up a goal out of nothing.

SAMI HYYPIA On the sidelines but has been a superb servant and if anything went wrong there is no-one better to step in and do a job in central defence. Experienced, solid and a great character.

THE MIDFIELDERS

JERMAINE PENNANT There is no doubting Pennant's ability to put in crosses and go past people in wide areas. He has maybe not lived up to his billing this season but has the quality to make a contribution to a game like a Champions League final.

JAVIER MASCHERANO Incredible how West Ham did not utilise his quality. Does not mind doing the dirty work and has great positional sense. Always plays in relation to his team-mates and never leaves the shop open. A very good player, who might be used to stop Kaka.

STEVEN GERRARD No-one needs telling he is Liverpool's best player. These are games that will decide how players are remembered in Liverpool's history and he has a fantastic record in finals. If he plays well, Liverpool's chances of beating AC Milan increase by 25% - he is that important.

XABI ALONSO Maybe suffering a bit from a World Cup hangover this season but a quality player and brilliant passer, who can control a game. Interesting to see if Benitez starts with him and if he does he could play a big part.

MOHAMED SISSOKO Not been as influential in his second season at Liverpool but this is understandable in a young player. Not naturally gifted and needs to play a run of games to show his best. Mascherano has edged in front of him in the defensive midfield role.

BOUDEWIJN ZENDEN Not the flying winger of old and is a doubt because of an ankle injury. But Benitez realises he knows the game and trusts him. Benitez knows that whatever tactics he tells Zenden to employ he will understand them and carry them out to the letter.

MARK GONZALEZ Unlikely to be involved and has been a disappointment this season. Came with a reputation as a flying winger but has not come to terms with the physical aspect of the Premiership.

HARRY KEWELL Liverpool's forgotten man is fit again in time for a major final. May not have enough in the tank to start but, for all his critics, no-one has ever doubted his ability. Has looked good since his return and will certainly be at least on the bench.

THE STRIKERS

PETER CROUCH He has been among the goals and is always a threat given his height. Whether he plays depends on what the manager wants but, make no mistake, he has the ability to play in a Champions League final.

DIRK KUYT Kuyt's work-rate is something else. People talk about him scoring more goals but he offers so much to Liverpool, even when he doesn't have the ball. He has a refreshing attitude and is a great professional.

CRAIG BELLAMY Bellamy offers the sort of pace that could threaten AC Milan's ageing defence but over the last few weeks has looked as if his mind has been elsewhere. May not get the nod.

ROBBIE FOWLER I would love Robbie to be involved - even as a substitute or in penalties. His second spell at Liverpool may not have been what he wanted but there is still no-one more capable of taking that last-minute chance in and around the penalty box.

Jan Molby was speaking with BBC Sport's Phil McNulty.

Copyright - BBC

Article links

Players
Games

Archives

We've got all the results from official games, appearance stats, goal stats and basically every conceivable statistic from 1892 to the present, every single line-up and substitutions!