There'll be no Traore, Smicer or Baros but the spirit of Istanbul will be very much alive at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday when Liverpool take on Chelsea.
Rafa Benitez is a man known more for his overt gesticulations, his obsession with tactics and his not so cozy relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson than he is for a penchant for sentiment. But even the Spaniard says the 2005 comeback against Milan must serve as inspiration in his side’s bid to overturn Chelsea’s 3-1 first leg advantage.
A certain Steven Gerrard was there that night and, it seems, Liverpool’s talisman will once again be on the front line at Stamford Bridge. Groin strain or no groin strain, The Reds don’t do comebacks like this without their skipper.
Chelsea do not have such a luxury having been denied the services of John Terry after he picked up a decisive booking at Anfield last week. Expect Alex to come in alongside Ricardo Carvalho.
Terry’s absence is genuine reason for buoyancy among glass-half-full Liverpool fans. Where else can the miracle seeker turn for optimism?
Bolton might seem an unlikely source of encouragement but their three-goal flurry in West London on Saturday shows Chelsea are fallible. The fact that The Blues have NEVER conceded three goals at home in the Champions League and that Liverpool have NEVER won an away game against another English side in the competition is fodder for the hefty band of doubters.
But Liverpool must not forget the 1-0 win at the Bridge earlier in the season that ended their hosts’ 86-match unbeaten run at home in the league. They must not forget the six times – most recently against PSV in December last year – that they have scored six away from home in the Champions League.
They have to draw on the three times that teams have overturned two-goal first-leg deficits in this competition. They must believe they can do to Chelsea what Barcelona did to them in 2000, what Deportivo did to Milan in 2004 and what Monaco did to Real Madrid that same year. The fact that all three played at home second time around must be ignored.
Benitez will also be boosted by the return from suspension of Javier Mascherano whose absence a week ago allowed Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard the space they crave. Will Daniel Agger keep Martin Skrtel out of the side?
For his part, Guus Hiddink may only be on a flying visit to England but it is one he seems intent on leaving his mark on – the Dutchman is adamant his team ‘must go for the win’.
Didier Drogba – bulldozer, bully and backbone in the first leg – will, having scored in his last four Champions League matches, no doubt be key to that plan.
In the three roles in which he made his name at the past three World Cups – Holland in 1998, South Korea in 2002 and Australia in 2006 – Hiddink’s teams have been knocked out by eventual finalists. If Liverpool complete the seemingly impossible, expect that trend to continue.