Benitez: Liverpool shortly back to their best

The Spaniard said, "We will get better little by little, by the time the group games come around, we will be ready.

"It is not easy when you have the pre-season we have had. When sometimes you are missing 10 players for a variety of reasons, internationals or the Olympics.

"Then you have two or three players returning one week, then the next week there are more. (Fernando) Torres, (Alvaro) Arbeloa, (Jose) Reina and (Xabi) Alonso all returned late for training because of Euro 2008. Then there were three returning from the Olympics; (Ryan) Babel first, then Lucas, then (Javier) Mascherano.

"But now we have seen Mascherano win the gold medal and Liverpool have reached the Champions League group stage. So it has all been very positive in the end.

"Now we have the players back and the confidence that we need to be successful this season."

He added: "We will continue to improve, we will be completely ready as a team when the group stages start.

"Up until now we have been preparing for every game missing four or five players each time.

"Now, after a few players have returned, we will improve with each match. Little by little we will improve to be ready for the big matches that will come."

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