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Liverpool Set Sights on Overcoming Zenit

While Lucas is convinced Sunday's victory over Swansea will provide a platform for Europa League success, Jose Enrique is worried about what Daniel Sturridge's means. Both, though, still see a chance to progress on Thursday.

Clive Brunskill

Following what was a very bad week for Liverpool and manager Brendan Rodgers, Sunday's thumping 5-0 defeat of Swansea was just what he, the players, and the fans desperately needed. All too soon, though, it's time to move on. In this case, to Zenit in the Europa League and a 2-0 deficit thanks to the first-leg loss that made up part of Liverpool's very bad week.

Overcoming that scoreline from Liverpool's trip to St. Petersburg last Thursday will be difficult, especially when Zenit have players like Hulk, Danny, and Alexander Kerzhakov to counter into the space left by a side that knows it needs to score plenty to even have a chance. Lucas, though, believes that Sunday's victory over Swansea showed just how dangerous Liverpool can be on their game—and he believes it will give them the confidence they need to overcome Zenit.

"We know we still have to improve a lot," he said, "but this victory will give us the confidence going into Thursday to try to get through against Zenit. We started [last] week thinking it could be a really good week for us but then we had the defeat to West Brom and then the loss in the Europa League.

"It was difficult but the important thing is that we have finished the week off in a positive way by scoring five goals and keeping a clean sheet. If we play like that against Zenit we’ll have a good chance. We are creating a lot of chances in matches—even in Russia we created a lot.

"If we do that again at Anfield and take them this time then we’ll be able to get through to the next stage. We will go into the Zenit game with a positive and offensive mentality but knowing that if we concede it’s going to be very hard. We have to defend well on Thursday because if we concede an away goal it will be very difficult for us."

Score at least three goals while keeping a clean sheet and one more for any time Zenit get an away marker. It's an exceptionally tough task, and despite his renewed confidence, Lucas appears well aware of this. It's also a task that will be made more difficult by something Lucas doesn't mention—the absence of Daniel Sturridge, still cup tied to Chelsea after the London club dropped into the Europa League.

Jose Enrique, though, was willing to concede that the absence of Sturridge would make things more difficult on Thursday night: "He can't play in the Europa League and that is a real miss for us because he already has a good understanding with Luis Suarez, and when they play together they score goals and we score goals as a team."

However, even with Sturridge's absence making the task more difficult, the left back remains confident. And like Lucas, he's preaching from the same playbook—one that says Liverpool must convert their chances this time around and that it would also help to keep a clean sheet. It seems simple in theory, of course. It's just the practice of it that could prove problematic.

"Playing at home," Enrique concluded, "the atmosphere will be very good and the most important thing is to score early, allow the confidence to grow, and then we will have a very good chance in the game. We have a good chance even though we lost 2-0. If we can stop them scoring and have a clean sheet that will give us a good chance because I know we can score at home."

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