Lucas calls on Liverpool crowd to help against Zenit

Lucas Leiva is hopeful that the Anfield crowd will give Liverpool the crucial edge as the Reds look to stage a comeback in the second leg of their crunch Europa League clash against Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday.

The Brazilian midfielder, who has become a firm fans’ favourite in recent years, is expected to start the game against the Russian side and believes that the Merseysiders are capable of overturning the two goal deficit.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference for the game, Lucas said: “It is a competition that we always wanted to do well in. We always know about these special nights – the European nights that the Anfield crowd gives to us. It will be an important game for us going forward this season as well.

We are really positive and we really believe that we can get through to the next stage. Hopefully the crowd will give us a special night and hopefully we will play well and get through.

The former Gremio player added: “The crowd will definitely be our twelfth player. We know that we need to score goals but also to play with a defensive mentality as well because conceding a goal would make it even harder for us. We need to try to find a balance.

We’ve been working on the training ground over the last three days so I’m sure the approach will be good and hopefully it will be another good night to remember after the game.

Lucas will come up against his Brazilian teammate Hulk once again on Thursday, but the Liverpool star insisted that the pair had not been swapping notes ahead of the clash. Speaking to reporters from the trophy room at Anfield, the midfielder said: “We are close, especially as we had the chance to play a few times in the national team and of course he scored a good goal against us.

Hulk is an important player for them, but he didn’t give me any news because, of course, he wants to win the game, the same as me. We’ll have a friendly chat after the game and hopefully I’ll be happier than him.

Meanwhile, Lucas reserved praise for inspirational captain and midfield partner Steven Gerrard, who has been in impressive form this campaign. “I’ve been playing with him for five or six years already and every week we can see Stevie still has the hunger to win games and be the special player that he has always been for the club.

Lucas added: “He’s playing in a different position than he used to play a few years ago and he’s still able to change the game. I’m just very happy that we have him on the team and with his leadership it always makes our life easier.

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