The former Real Madrid and Napoli manager is determined to cause an upset to the Reds at Anfield.
It will be an emotional return for Rafael Benitez at Anfield as his current side Newcastle United face Liverpool on Boxing Day in the Premier League. The former Reds boss famously led them to a historic Champions League win back in 2005 and is highly regarded in the Liverpool fan community.
“It’s always very emotional going back to Anfield because I was there for years, I won trophies, the fans love me and my family is still there and we have a charity so we have a lot of connections with the fans, the city, and the club,” said Benitez.
However, the Spaniard is focused on returning with all three points from Merseyside and end the Reds’ 18-game unbeaten streak in the league. Despite wanting his former club to attain greater heights in the future, the 58-year-old is determined to win the game for the Magpies.
“But I have a job to do my job. I have to go there and try to get the three points. Like I do in every game, but that will be very difficult because obviously, they are a very good side now,” he added.
The former Real Madrid and Napoli manager insisted that the Magpies have a plan to cause an upset to Liverpool. “We have a plan to beat them and if we do it well and they make mistakes, we can do it. With these top sides, you have to do everything right and they have to have a bad day- then you have a chance.”
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are in excellent form as they stand top of the table, four points adrift of Manchester City who slumped to a shock defeat at home against Crystal Palace last weekend. The Merseysiders have conceded just seven goals until now and are in a pole position to win the title this season. Benitez too is hopeful that they end their 28-year drought this year beating the likes of City saying, “Still it’s too soon, but I think both teams are a little bit ahead of the others. I haven’t seen the Manchester City game, but nobody was expecting that. Liverpool are in form, they are doing really well and it will be a very difficult game for us.”
Moreover, the Spaniard believes that the current Reds’ squad is better than it was back when they won the Champions League. When asked whether it is their best since 2005, he said, “It’s difficult to say ‘team’ because always in my head is that when we beat Real Madrid and Barcelona, there was a great team, but what I think is they have the best squad.”
“When you spend money, you bring in better players – they have signed Fabinho, spent some money on (Naby) Keita, but they kept (Jordan) Henderson and they kept (Georginio) Wijnaldum, so you keep the good players and you bring in new players, so the squad is better,” he added.
The Magpies, on the other hand, were held on to a goalless draw by Fulham at the St. James Park last weekend which left them five points clear off the relegation zone. Moreover, the newly promoted side has won just one of their last five games and it will be interesting to watch how they pose a threat to the in-form Reds.