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UEFA Champions League Semi-final: Chelsea v Liverpool

When: Tuesday, April 22nd at 2:30 ET and Wednesday, April 30th at 2:30 ET on ESPN 2

Pride and Glory is on the line for two English rivals as they fight for a spot in the Final of the most prestigious tournament in Europe.

 

The following is from bbc.co.uk

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has been passed fit after sitting out Saturday's 2-0 Premier League win over Fulham with a neck injury.

The Reds skipper trained on Monday and is set to start in the Anfield clash.

Frank Lampard will be available to play for Chelsea after missing the past two games on compassionate leave because his mother is ill with pneumonia.

Goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini (hamstring) is out, while striker Didier Drogba remains doubtful with a knee complaint.

Overall head-to-heads

Liverpool and Chelsea have had 150 major competitive meetings; Liverpool lead by 58 wins to 44, with 28 draws.

They have met 18 times since the start of the 2004-05 season, when Rafael Benitez took over as Liverpool manager. The Reds have won five, drawn five and lost eight.

This season, they drew 1-1 in the Premier League at Anfield; Fernando Torres gave the Merseysiders a half-time lead, but Frank Lampard equalised from the penalty spot.

Then, under Avram Grant, the Blues won the Carling Cup quarter-final 2-0 at Stamford Bridge with goals from Lampard and Andriy Shevchenko. The league fixture on 19 February in West London was a goalless draw.

European head-to-heads

This is the fourth successive season in which Liverpool and Chelsea have met in the Champions League. There have been only three goals in the six previous fixtures, with Liverpool winning 1-0 on two occasions and Chelsea by the same score once.

This is also the third Champions League semi-final between the two teams. Liverpool have progressed to the final from each of the previous two.

Liverpool have played an English club at Anfield on seven previous occasions, losing just once (to Leeds in the 1970-71 Fairs Cup semi-final); Chelsea have won two of their five European away matches against English opposition - both defeats came at Anfield. Liverpool is the only English club to have knocked Chelsea out of Europe, and they have done it twice.

Current European form

Liverpool are undefeated in seven matches in the Champions League, since a 2-1 reverse to Besiktas in Turkey on 24 October 2007. The Reds have won their last four Champions League home matches, and have not been defeated at Anfield in this competition since 3 October 2007, when Olympique Marseille won 0-1.

Chelsea's only defeat in 10 Champions League outings since their loss to Liverpool in last season's semi-finals, was 2-1 in the opening leg of the quarter-final, away to Fenerbahce on 2 April.

Player and disciplinary info

Chelsea's Michael Essien is suspended for this match; Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fabio Aurelio will be suspended for the second leg if shown a yellow card.

Fernando Torres has scored in each of Liverpool's last seven home matches in all competitions.

Jose Reina and Carragher have started and completed all of Liverpool's CL matches this season. Gerrard and Sami Hyypia have also played in all 10 of Liverpool's CL matches this season.

Claude Makelele has reached a Champions League semi-final for the eighth time in his career. He was already in possession of the record for the competition and is the only player to reach more than six Champions League semis.

Joe Cole, Makelele and Essien have played in all 10 of Chelsea's CL matches this season.

If selected, John Obi Mikel will be playing on his 21st birthday, and Nicolas Anelka will be facing one of his former clubs.

Liverpool has defeated Chelsea in their last few meetings in the Champions League, with the latest coming in last year's semifinal, so Chelsea will be looking for revenge against the Reds. Above Liverpool striker Luis Garcia (now with Athletico Madrid) watches as his goal in the second leg of the 2005-2006 semifinal against Chelsea goes into the back of the net. The goal proved to be the desiding factor that helped Liverpool to the final, and they eventually went on to win the Champions League that year.

 

My Take

Chelsea will be out with a vengence, though I strongly believe that Liverpool are playing better form this season and are defidently a team with better chemistry and composure than the Stamford Bridge side, which looks to be losing a good portion of their current lineup over the summer.

Fact is that Chelsea didn't look very impressive against Fenerbahce, a club that is small in stature compared to Liverpool but still deserves a lot of credit, while Liverpool looked convincing over Arsenal.

I'm pretty confident that Liverpool will win the first leg, especially since it's played at Anfield, by a score of 2-0.

Though Liverpool will play well in the first leg, Chelsea will not go down without a fight. I think the second leg will finish in a 1-1 draw, thus moving Liverpool onto Moscow for their second Uefa Champions League Final in two years.

Chelsea will still be looking for revenge against the Reds, and as both teams are looking for improvement in the transfer period look for the rivalry to get more heated as time goes on.

Chelsea star Frank Lampard has had some bad luck against Liverpool and looks to change that this time around, in what is probably his last season with Chelsea.

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