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No distractions for Reds

Rafa Benitez must put his battle with the Liverpool owners to the back of his mind as he leads his side into a crunch Champions League clash with Porto - and we feel the recent distractions will only galvanise the Reds towards a much-needed victory.

Despite trying to make peace with Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Benitez could still lose his job over his recent comments about the transfer policy at Anfield and supporters must be worried all this bad blood could well have a negative impact on the field as the uncertainty continues to grow.

But on Saturday, Liverpool produced a wonderful performance to blitz Newcastle 3-0 at St James' Park and in truth that scoreline flattered the struggling Magpies.

They went into the game knowing they needed a win to stay in touch with the Premier League pace setters and on Wednesday night the stakes are so much bigger and we're backing them to rise to the occasion again.

Captain Steven Gerrard has told his team-mates to "blank out" the row between Benitez and the American owners while the manager also insists there will be "no distractions".

And if the players know defeat could signal the end of Benitez, there is an added incentive for victory.

In any case Liverpool realistically need three points to keep their hopes of reaching the last 16 alive and having dismantled Besiktas 8-0 in their previous Champions League outing, their confidence should be high.

The Reds have now won their last three in all competitions and have kept four successive clean sheets, dating back to the goalless draw at Ewood Park on November 3.

That said Porto must not be underestimated as they currently sit top of Group A, on the brink of qualification, while they're also flying high at the summit of their domestic league with nine wins and two draws from the opening 11 games.

However, they host Besiktas in their final match and arguably won't have the same drive as Liverpool on Wednesday night.

With all this in mind our strategy is to take Sky Bet's 11/10 about Liverpool winning the game to nil while our favoured scoreline is the 2-0 with Stan James, available at 6/1.

Meanwhile Chelsea appear to have a much simpler task on Wednesday - beat Rosenborg and qualify for the next round with a game to spare.

On paper you can't really grumble at general odds of around 4/7 about the away win at the Lerkandal Stadium.

The Blues are yet to taste defeat under Avram Grant, who replaced Jose Mourinho as manager following the goalless draw with Fulham at the end of September, and since then they've won eight and drawn two in all competitions.

And they're also boosted by the return of Didier Drogba after recovering from a knee injury sustained on international duty with the Ivory Coast.

By contrast Rosenborg are now off-season having finished a disappointing fifth in the Tippeligaen.

However there are big dangers betting on a match result for this one and that's why we're staying clear.

The Norwegian side are fresh from completing a staggering double over Valencia in their last two Champions League matches and are also one win from the next stage.

It also can't be forgotten Rosenborg earned an impressive and unlikely 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier in this campaign and therefore must not be underestimated.

If anything the value is with bet365's 11/4 about another draw but instead it's perhaps more advisable to back Steffen Iversen at a generous 7/2 with Sky Bet to score anytime.

The Norwegian international, who scored a hat-tick for his country last week, netted twice during the 2-0 win at the Mestalla and he's the man to back if you want a bet on this one.

The other British club in European action on Wednesday night is a Celtic side looking for revenge against the dangerous Shakhtar Donetsk.

On match day one the Ukrainian outfit brushed aside the Hoops 2-0 in an alarmingly one-sided contest but since then we've seen a predictable change of fortunes.

While Celtic's unbelievable European home form has seen them bounce back to beat AC Milan and Benfica, Shakhtar were shown up twice by the defending champions, who inflicted 4-1 and 3-0 defeats on them.

Shakhtar and Celtic are now locked on six points in Group D, with both sides knowing there is the possibility of passage to the knockout rounds with a game to spare, as long as Benfica don't beat AC Milan at Estadio La Luz.

In this case a victory by more than two clear goals will send Gordon Strachan's men through while Shakhtar would advance with any kind of win at Parkhead.

The latter result is not appealing at 3/1 considering just how good the Hoops are at home.

They've recorded 11 wins in 15 Champions League matches on home soil and collected maximum points from their last five group stage fixtures there.

Celtic have won all three of their games in November, including their triumph over Benfica, and are certainly in a rich vein of form while Shakhtar's recent domestic stumbles has seen their lead at the top of Ukraine's Premier League cut to just one point.

All the signs point to another home win now the momentum has swung in Celtic's favour since the nightmare at the Olympiyskiy Stadium and we'll advise taking the 11/5 on the hosts winning at half-time and full-time with Stan James.

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