Houllier back to boost Liverpool's chances

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Liverpool coach Gerard Houllier is back to boost his teams chances.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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It has been a long time coming for Liverpool, but they finally managed to get to the knockout stages of Europe's premier competition for the first time since 1985. This is a feat they could have never done without the inspiration of their manager Gerard Houllier. The Frenchman back after six months recuperating from heart surgery was Liverpool's catalyst for this amazing home win against AS Roma in the last match of the second group stage. Facing German opposition is not something new for English clubs and more so for Liverpool who have got the better of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund this season. Vladimir Smicer, forward player for Liverpool, said, "We have good record against German sides. We drew in Dortmund, won at home and beat Bayern Munich in the Super Cup, so I hope this continues against Bayer Leverkusen." Meanwhile opponents Bayer Leverkusen who sit atop the Bundesliga standings will have to do without team captain Jens Nowotny who is under suspension. But that has not deterred the Germans who still have enough firepower to trouble the English side. Meanwhile in the other quarter-final, Barcelona travel to the Olympic stadium looking for success against Panathinaikos to help them salvage yet another disappointing season. The Catalan giants who are virtually out of the Spanish title race know only too well that another trophy-less season means that a lot of heads will roll. Greek opponents Panathinaikos are no strangers to this competition either. They know that nothing less than a win will do. The Greek side are however considered the weakest of the eight teams left.

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