Liverpool boss Benitez questions if Gerrard can match Chelsea star midfield

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has questioned skipper Steven Gerrard's ability to handle Chelsea's star-studded midfield in tonight's Champions League clash.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has questioned skipper Steven Gerrard's ability to handle Chelsea's star-studded midfield in tonight's Champions League clash.

Benitez said: "It is very difficult to stop Stevie when he is at his best but we have to remember who we are up against. We are facing a team packed with very good players and maybe it will present a different test for Stevie.

"f the likes of Michael Essien, Michael Ballack or Frank Lampard are at the top of their game, they will take some stopping. We all value Stevie's contribution very highly, and the fact that we have signed him up on a new long-term contract shows we are doing our job properly. But make no mistake, he's got a challenge on his hands against this Chelsea team."

While he may have piled even more demands on Gerrard's shoulders, Benitez senses a bond is developing between himself and his players and feels that smashing Chelsea's long unbeaten home record last October could influence who moves forward to a semi-final against Barcelona or Bayern Munich.

He said: "Maybe you should ask them if they have more trust in me these days but I think they realise they are working for a very good staff. It's not just down to the manager. People like Sammy Lee and Mauricio Pellegrino have won things at the highest level.

"This is a different competition to the Premier League but it always helps when you head for Stamford Bridge knowing you can win there. We have demonstrated that and it has to be good for our confidence."

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