Jurado: Arduous trek will not affect Liverpool

MADRID - Liverpool's 2000-kilometre odyssey to arrive in Madrid for Thursday's Europa League semi-final first-leg against Atletico is unlikely to affect their performance, according to Atletico midfielder Jurado.

Airspace restrictions caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland have forced coach Rafael Benitez and his players to find alternative means of transport to the Spanish capital.

They took a train to London around Tuesday lunchtime and then the Eurostar rail service to Paris. They plan to catch a train to Bordeaux on Wednesday and then a flight to Madrid.

"I am sorry they have to travel so many kilometres (out of their way), although I don't think it'll make any difference on the pitch," Jurado said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"I think that more than the journey they will be tired because they played on Monday," he said, in reference to Liverpool's 3-0 Premier League win over West Ham.

"But in a semi-final like this you use all your energy and you don't notice fatigue."

The Liverpool players passed the time on the train to London reading newspapers, playing cards and browsing on laptop computers, according to a live blog called "The Longest Journey" on the club's website (www.liverpoolfc.tv).

After they arrive in Madrid on Wednesday, Benitez will hold a news conference at Atletico's Calderon stadium at and they will have a practice session.

Atletico winger Jose Antonio Reyes believes his side will miss Sergio "Kun" Aguero more than Liverpool will notice the absence of Fernando Torres on Thursday as the two teams bid for a place in the May 12 final against Hamburg SV or Fulham.


Spain striker Torres, a fans' favourite at Atletico before moving to the Premier League in July 2007, had knee surgery on Sunday and will be out for around six weeks. Argentina forward Aguero is suspended.

"I admit that for us it's good news (that Torres is out), although also bad because we like to see the best players on the pitch," Reyes told reporters.

"Above all his team will suffer, and also our fans," the former Arsenal and Real Madrid player added.

"Both teams lose a lot, although I believe the absence of Kun it's more important because he is a key player for Atletico. We'll notice his absence, although I hope not much."

Erratic Atletico have struggled in La Liga this season but have made the final of the domestic cup and Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard said the Spaniards are capable of beating anyone if they hit form.

"It depends what version of Atletico takes to the pitch," the England midfielder said in an interview published in Spain's As sports daily on Tuesday.

"They're a bit like us: sometimes you expect them to win and they don't.

"It's going to be a hard match. The trophy is very important for both clubs and the atmosphere is going to be sensational."

Probable teams:

Atletico Madrid: 43-David De Gea; 2-Juan Valera, 18-Alvaro Dominguez, 17-Tomas Ujfalusi, 3-Antonio Lopez; 12-Paulo Assuncao, 8-Raul Garcia; 19-Jose Antonio Reyes, 9-Jurado, 20-Simao Sabrosa; 7-Diego Forlan

Liverpool: 25-Pepe Reina; 2-Glen Johnson, 5-Daniel Agger, 23-Jamie Carragher, 16-Sotiris Kyrgiakos; 20-Javier Mascherano, 21-Lucas; 18-Dirk Kuyt, 8-Steven Gerrard, 15-Yossi Benayoun; 24-David Ngog

Referee: Laurent Duhamel (France)

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