FIORENTINA coach Cesare Prandelli admits he is “nervous” to be facing an in-form Liverpool in their Group E Champions League clash at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
The former Juventus player believes his team will need some good fortune if they are to stop a rampant Fernando Torres in his tracks.
Prandelli said: “How do you stop him? You must concentrate all the time, and be very lucky because he is so good. We have watched the last three Liverpool games on DVD and we know what a difficult task we face.
“Liverpool are very strong, very talented, but sometimes they are unpredictable. They are a great side, but even great sides give you opportunities.”
Liverpool have won their last six on the trot in all competitions, and rattled in 18 goals in the process.
“Liverpool scored six on Saturday and are in very good form, I must admit that when I heard that result it did make me a little more nervous than I was before. We have always said that we want to experience the Champions League with enthusiasm, even if that means running a few risks.”
Liverpool’s dynamic duo of Torres and Steven Gerrard are fast being accepted as the world’s best goal-scoring double act.
Torres has scored 58 goals in 92 Liverpool games since his debut in August 2007, while Gerrard has 123 in 492.
But the true mark of their quality and chemistry comes from the 77 games the pair have played together, when they have plundered 86 goals between them – Gerrard with 39 and Torres 47.
Gerrard said: “I wouldn’t swap Fernando for any other striker in the world, he’s the best.”
And Torres added: “If you play alongside someone like Stevie, who is the best in the world, it can only help you. He is a great passer and can score goals.”
Fiorentina will also be aware the pair have a pretty impressive Champions League record. In the 15 Champions League games they have played together, they have scored 15 goals.
Manager Rafael Benitez had suggested earlier in the campaign that both players had been below their best, but he still claims Torres is “priceless” and Gerrard the best in Europe.
“If you analyse the goals they have scored together over the past couple of seasons, you would be amazed. The understanding between the pair, with Torres up front and Gerrard in space behind him, has been the real difference for us.
“Playing Steven further forward means he can link well and be a real partner for Torres, he still has to help in midfield but he does not have to go back 40 metres, only 15 metres now, no more.
“But I believe they can both improve, both get better. They can always produce more.”
Torres has taken that to heart and readily admits that Benitez has made him a better player.
He said: “From the day I arrived here I have always been improving. I am a better player now than when I was at Atletico Madrid. I hope to keep improving with the manager and my team-mates who can all help me get better and better.
“Under Rafa I’ve started to play much more in the middle. I’ve scored a lot of goals from this position, rather than playing further out towards the wings.
“I like to play between the centre-backs and keep them busy and leave some space for the midfielders. That can make it easier for me to receive a pass when we attack.”
“You have to play to your strengths. I don’t know how to play in another position. Striker is the right position for me.”
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