Lille set sights on Liverpool scalp

Having dismissed the Reds’ defeat at Wigan on Monday as a

“more-than-average performance” Garcia said he hoped his club would

write their own history against the five-time European champions.

And he used St Etienne’s 1-0 European Cup quarter-final home

first-leg victory over the Reds in 1977 (they went on to lose 3-2

on aggregate in a famous night at Anfield) as a motivating factor.

“Liverpool are a big team and big teams are always there,” said

Garcia. “We cannot under-estimate them but we’ll see if they

perform again like they did against Wigan. “It will be difficult

(for us) after this more-than-average game they had against Wigan.

“But there are two sides to the story: maybe their confidence is

decreasing but they now know the importance of the Europa League

and winning it will be one of their objectives. “Liverpool are

probably the most legendary team in England, but then again maybe

we have to write our own story the way St Etienne did when they

played them in the quarter-finals back in the 1970s. “We need to

write our own history. We will see that maybe when we play at

Anfield but it is magical to play against such a team.” Garcia has

crossed paths with Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez before when he

spent a week with the Spaniard’s former club Valencia as part of

his coaching education. And the Lille boss has nothing but praise

for his opposite number. “On this level it will be pretty special

for me because when I trained as a coach I went to Valencia for a

week and he was coaching at that time,” added Garcia. “I worked

with him. I will say he is a really open person and coach and a

very passionate man. “Benitez has a great game philosophy and is

very interesting as well and he has been successful as a coach.”

Lille will be without defenders Nicolas Plestan and Mathieu

Debuchy, and forwards Tulio de Melo and Gervinho – all out injured

– for tomorrow’s tie. However, they have a formidable record at the

Lille Metropole, where they have lost just once in Ligue 1 since

the opening day of the season on August 9. In their last nine home

league matches they have scored 25 goals, while their European

record has seen them lose just one of the last 16 fixtures at home

– to Manchester United in the 2006/7 Champions League. The pitch is

a concern on Thursday though as the surface has been filled in with

sand in places.