Monday Kickoff: Gerrard talks up title chances; Benzema a doubt for El Clasico; and more

Monday Kickoff: Gerrard talks up title chances; Benzema a doubt for El Clasico; and more

South American Soccer

Monday Kickoff: Gerrard talks up title chances; Benzema a doubt for El Clasico; and more

Steven Gerrard of Liverpool scores his goal from the penalty spot to make it 0-2

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Sitting just four points behind English Premier League leading side Chelsea after 29 matches, Liverpool are starting to believe that they can contend for the EPL title this season.

Few would have expected last August for Liverpool to be in second place at this point of the season but based on their current and recent performances, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes that the team can achieve the improbable and win the club’s first title in 24 years.

“We believe that we can win the league,” Gerrard told The Telegraph following Liverpool’s 3-0 victory at Manchester United. “I’ve come here many times and been played off the park. (Man United) are a fantastic team and this is one of the most difficult places to come to, so to come and dominate from start to finish and we are still going away disappointed that we didn’t score more goals.

“I said before the game it’s going to be difficult [to win the title] and we need to take each game as it comes and just try to win them all. We will enjoy tonight but we need to move on very quickly because we know Cardiff [next] are going to be tough. I think we have shown out there that we are genuine contenders and we are going to fight to the end.”

Liverpool’s final nine matches of the season include games against Tottenham, Manchester City, and Chelsea in a match that could determine this year’s EPL winner.

Here are some more stories to kick off your week:

BENZEMA TO MISS SCHALKE MATCH, IS A DOUBT FOR EL CLASICO

Real Madrid could be missing a key cog in their lineup for Sunday’s highly anticipated El Clasico match against Barcelona.

Karim Benzema missed training on Monday and Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti ruled the Frenchman out of Madrid’s UEFA Champions League match on Tuesday against Schalke 04 but kept hope alive for Benzema to return by Sunday. Benzema was forced off in the 32nd minute of Real Madrid’s 1-0 victory at Malaga, taking a knock to his right quadriceps muscle.

“He is recovering,” Ancelotti told reporters at a press conference, referring to Benzema. “He cannot play tomorrow but we’re confident he can play on Sunday. He is a very important player, not only because of the goals. He has a knock, we hope he recovers We’re lucky that we can replace him if he can’t play.

If Benzema doesn’t play, Ancelotti can play Alvaro Morata as the loan striker or move Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, or Angel Di Maria to be the lone man up top.

QUICK KICKS

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has asked for Chris Foy to not referee Chelsea matches anymore this season. (REPORT)

A slimmer and fitter Antonio Cassano is hoping for a late World Cup call-up despite not receiving an Italy call-up since 2012. (REPORT)

The German Football Federation (DFB) is investigating Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp after he exploded at the referee again this past Saturday. (REPORTBy )

Seven Spanish clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, are under investigation by the European Union for tax advantages from the state or local governments. (REPORT)

Brazilian side Corinthians have surprisingly failed to qualify for the final stages of the Paulista State tournament. (REPORT)

Argentinos Juniors’ Leonardo Pisculichi scored a late goal to steal a point away from Boca Juniors. (REPORT)

Olympiakos won their 41st Greek league title on Saturday with a 2-0 victory against Panthrakikos FC. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you believe in Liverpool’s title chances? Do you expect Benzema to play vs. Barcelona? How big of a loss would it be if he was unfit to play?

Share your thoughts below.

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