Liverpool face meaningless Euro date

The true measure of Liverpool‘s Champions League humiliation will hit home next week when they face a meaningless game against Fiorentina.

Liverpool are already out of the competition with one Group E match still to go.

Match tickets went on general sale at the end of last week, something which is almost unheard of at Anfield for what used to be a big European night.

Now 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.

“I do not know how Fiorentina will approach it. They have qualified but they may well want to finish top of the group.

“But we must play well and use the game to build for the future. We can look forward now to the Europa League, that is the aim now.

“I will decide nearer the time whether I will rest any of our top players, it depends on each of them and how their fitness is.

“Maybe for some it will be good for them to play, but some others could do with a rest.

“We are in a position where we cannot change what has happened and the situation we find ourselves in.

“Obviously we are all disappointed with not being able to go into the last 16 of the Champions League, but I hope we can score some goals to give the fans something to be happy about.”