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Liverpool's Besiktas clash is bittersweet for Steven Gerrard

By Jim Van Wijk

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is set to return to the scene of his greatest triumph in Istanbul - but will be hoping to avoid another costly slip when coming up against Demba Ba and Besiktas in the last 32 of the Europa League.

The Reds, who failed to make it out of their Champions League group, were handed a return to the Ataturk Arena, where they famously won the European Cup under Rafa Benitez in 2005. Jerzy Dudek, their goalkeeper on that occasion, also assisted with yesterday's draw.

Celtic, meanwhile, were given a fearsome last-32 draw against Inter Milan, the club Jock Stein's 'Lisbon Lions' famously beat in the 1967 European Cup final.

While Gerrard inspired the Liverpool comeback on their own historic night in Turkey, the former England captain will need no reminding of what happened the last time he faced former Chelsea frontman Ba, when he lost his footing to gift the Senegal striker the opening goal at Anfield in a 2-0 defeat in late April that proved so costly as the title dream faded for Brendan Rodgers' side.

Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann, who was also part of the 2005 final team, warned there should be no complacency against Besiktas, who are managed by Slaven Bilic and topped their Europa League group ahead of Tottenham.

"Besiktas is not an easy draw - away to Turkey is a very tough place to go, it's usually a very hostile crowd," he said.

"It might be a bit easier this time because they are playing at the Ataturk, where the Champions League final was played in 2005.

"There is a (running) track around the pitch, so it shouldn't be too noisy.

"But nevertheless, (Besiktas) played Arsenal in the Champions League qualifying round at the start of this season and managed to hold them to a draw in Istanbul.

"Everybody thought it was a foregone conclusion that Arsenal would go through, but they scraped through with a 1-0 win. Demba Ba is in their ranks and has scored five goals in Europa League games this season, and they are top of the league.

"Don't underestimate them, but if the (Liverpool) team plays to the potential that they can, I expect them to get to the last 16.

"The rules have been changed and the winners get a spot in the Champions League, which would be a tremendous achievement indeed."

Liverpool have faced Besiktas twice before, in the Champions League group phase of 2007, losing 2-1 away from home before recording an 8-0 victory in the reverse fixture at Anfield.

Celtic boss Ronny Deila, meanwhile, is confident his men will be up for the battle against another of Europe's most famous names.

He told the official Celtic website: "We are meeting a big opponent, but we always have a chance. Everything is possible, however, and we have everything to play for.

"We will have to be at our best in both games to hopefully go through.

"The history adds to the match and every training exercise and match will be to prepare us as good as possible for the matches."

Tottenham will also face Italian opposition in Fiorentina, while Everton were drawn with Swiss side Young Boys in the first tie yesterday.


Europa League last-32 draw

Young Boys v Everton

Torino v Athletic Bilbao

Sevilla v Borussia Monchengladbach

Wolfsburg v Sporting Lisbon

Ajax v Legia Warsaw

AaB v Club Brugge

Anderlecht v Dinamo Moscow

Dnipro v Olympiacos

Trabzonspor v Napoli

Guingamp v Dinamo Kiev

Villarreal v Salzburg

Roma v Feyenoord

PSV Eindhoven v Zenit

St Petersburg

Liverpool v Besiktas

Tottenham v Fiorentina

Celtic v Inter Milan

Ties to be played February 19 and 26

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