Champions League
    Champions League : News

    Leiva relishing Champions League atmosphere

    Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is relishing the prospect of a typically exciting Champions League atmosphere at Anfield on Wednesday night, when unfancied Hungarian outfit Debrecen are the visitors in the opening game of the group stage of this season's competition.

    He is also hoping that Rafa Benititez's current side can emulate the heroes of Istanbul in 2005, who beat AC Milan in one of the tournament's most dramatic finals.

    "We know that there is always a different atmosphere at Anfield in the Champions League and, of course, we are expecting to win. That is the case whenever we play at home and I think the fans will be behind us again tonight," the Brazilian told reporters at a pre-match press conference on Merseyside.

    "I remember watching that final [2005] and I think it is everyone's dream to play in one. If we can do that it will be really good, but first we must focus on qualifying and then try to get as close as we can to the final."

    As for Liverpool's main challengers for the trophy this year, Lucas predicts that the biggest threat is likely to come from Catalunya once more, though there are plenty of sides that have a good chance.

    He explained: "There are a lot of good teams involved. Everyone knows about the big sides in England, Italy and Spain.

    "We have Lyon in our group and they are a tough team to play but I think it's really difficult to narrow it down to one or two sides before the competition has begun. Obviously Barcelona will have a chance because they won it last year."

    The Brazilian, often a target of criticism during his spell at Anfield, went on to shrug off the assertions that this season he must step up and fill the considerable void left by Xabi Alonso's summer departure to Real Madrid.

    "I always try to do my best but sometimes it is not always possible to play your best football. I like to play every game like a final because I know if I don't play as well as I can then people will talk about me and Xabi," he added.

    "But I am young and if the team plays well then that will help me a lot. I must try to impress and keep my place in the side. The most important thing is always the team and hopefully we can keep the same level now."

    Champions League