A massive game for Rafa Benitez this afternoon and it is quite literally a home from home.

As well as being the club he used to manage so successfully, Liverpool is still the place where he has his family home despite having managed the likes of Napoli and Real Madrid in between.

Whilst 25 points and 12 league positions currently separate the two clubs, Rafa Benitez believes in so many other respects the two places are very alike:

“Newcastle is very similar to Liverpool. The city, the fans, they are passionate and they are workers. There are a lot of similarities and I like this.”

Liverpool may not have won the league title for some time but in the intervening years they have won pretty much everything else, including the Champions League under Rafa Benitez.

There does seem to be a winning mentality inherent at the club, which produces results like the one against Dortmund in the Europa League.

Hopefully Rafa Benitez is starting to get that through to this current team and whilst it may not be quite a ‘winning’ mentality on a consistent basis just yet, all Newcastle fans hope that the manager can carry on the ‘not losing’ mentality which showed up so well against the likes of Sunderland and Manchester City.

A point today and then wins against Palace and Villa is on everybody’s wish list I believe and then the final game against Tottenham could turn on how much motivation there is for the respective teams.

Today though is Newcastle United’s latest cup final in this survival battle and we await to see what cunning plan Rafa Benitez has dreamed up to counter his former club today.

Rafa Benitez:

“We know our away form is not the best but the reaction from our players in the last two games has shown that we can improve.

“The team looks good and they are a lot more positive that they can win.

“Manchester City was massive for the morale of the team. Now we have this confidence and we have to keep fighting and keep working hard in order to get three points.

“It doesn’t matter who we play, we need three points. I am a professional and I am the Newcastle manager so I will go to Liverpool wanting to win.

“Liverpool are doing well, they are a great team with a very good manager, I’ve met Jurgen Klopp a couple of times before and I know he’s a very passionate manager and hopefully he does well for Liverpool in the Europa League.

“His team are scoring a lot of goals and playing well. It won’t be just our defence that will have to work hard, it will be the entire team.

“We have to be sure that we stick together and play to win.

“I have a first-hand experience at Liverpool but we have to go there and get three points. It’s what we have to do and we know that we can do it.

It doesn’t make much difference how Liverpool line up because it will always be a hard game for us.

rafa benitez

I am not just happy with two good games – we have to fight until the end.

“Everything that you can tell me about Liverpool I know first-hand, we have to go there and try to get three points. It’s what we have to do, because we know that we can do it.

We are fighting, they are fighting. They have a good manager and they have good players, so it’s normal that they can do well.

“We will try to reproduce or replicate what we had here the other day (v Man City) at Anfield, and the atmosphere will be fantastic with the Geordies and the Scousers all together helping their teams.

“Newcastle is very similar to Liverpool. The city, the fans, they are passionate and they are workers. There are a lot of similarities and I like this.

“My connection with Liverpool is fantastic. My family are living there and we have a foundation helping people in Merseyside – but I will try to do my best for Newcastle now and get three points.

“I am a professional, so I have a lot of respect. I played there with Chelsea and I wanted to win, and I want to win now.

“If the Liverpool fans appreciate me it’s because I am professional and I wanted to win every game for them, and I will try to do the same for Newcastle.

“We need to get three points. I want to do it in every stadium, it doesn’t matter which one. In this case, it’s the first game that we have and after Liverpool, it will be Crystal Palace, and then we’ll try and do the same against Aston Villa. I want to win every game – if it’s at Anfield, Old Trafford or the Emirates, it doesn’t matter for me.

“I knew Jurgen Klopp before, I met him two or three times in UEFA coaches’ meetings. He’s a nice person and I know that he is very passionate – we played against Dortmund with Napoli too, so we know that he is a great manager and you can see that with time he is doing well.”