Benfica defender Luisao claims his role in Liverpool's downfall in Lisbon last week will have no bearing on his treatment at Anfield tomorrow. The Brazil international sparked the confrontation that led to Ryan Babel being sent off in the first half of the first leg of Liverpool's Europa League quarter-final against the Portuguese giants.
Babel took exception to a crude foul by Luisao on Fernando Torres and was dismissed for raising his hands towards his face in the ensuing argument. Liverpool, who had been leading 1-0 at the time, were left to play for an hour with 10 men and were ultimately beaten 2-1 at the Estadio da Luz.
Luisao does not believe he will be marked out for any special treatment, from fans or players, as the Reds look to overturn the deficit back on Merseyside. "That belongs to the past," said the 29-year-old. "What happens on the pitch stays there, we are colleagues of the same profession. We know the culture of the English supporters and players is different but there is nothing afterwards. We are coming into this tie to win. We are going to play with a lot of spirit and we will try to do the same as we did last time."
Luisao was a member of the Benfica side that won 2-0 at Anfield four years ago, a result that ended Liverpool's reign as European champions following their 2005 success. "With the supporters behind them they grow even stronger," he added. "I have had that experience before but once we go out onto the pitch we forget about what people are saying outside - we concentrate. We know the way they play, they are quick and we have to be prepared."
Chief among Luisao's tasks will be stopping Liverpool's star striker Torres, who is fit to play after a knee scare. Luisao says he will give the Spain international the respect he deserves. "He is a brilliant player but we have to be humble and pay attention to what is going on around us," he said. "There is no secret. We just have to be humble and play at our best."
Reaching the semi-finals would keep Benfica on course for double success. The Lisbon side are six points clear at the top of the Portuguese league after victory at Naval last weekend.
When asked which competition was his priority, Luisao was optimistic. "We would like to win both if possible," he admitted. "We have been playing with a lot of quality and are working hard. We have reached this position and we want to go through. We love the way things are going. We know it has been a long season and some matches have been very stressful but we don't hide. We just take the things the way they come."
Benfica are without strikers Javier Saviola and Weldon through injury while defender Cesar Peixoto is also doubtful.