Moment Of Truth: Two Weeks To Define The Future Of Liverpool FC?

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Moment Of Truth: Two Weeks To Define The Future Of Liverpool FC?
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Countless words have been spoken and thousands of column inches written about Liverpool's season thus far.

Topics ranging from Xabi Alonso's exit to Alberto Aquilani's fitness, and from Rafael Benitez's job to Jamie Carragher's form have ensured that they have rarely been off the back page in recent months.

The reason for this is simple. A season that started with so much optimism threatens to implode before Christmas. Some may say it already has.

But in Liverpool's two remaining Champions League ties, they have a chance to save the season and salvage hope of an unlikely revival.

A common criticism of the Anfield faithful is that they live in the past, always referring to the days when they were the dominant force in football, and look to the future, with next year always seeming to be "their year".

Is it because it is easier than living in the present?

Wherever the fans choose to "live", the fact is that their club is in a perilous position.

The upcoming match against Debrecen is arguably the most important of the season, with a win being paramount for Liverpool's chances in the Champions League.

Should Fiorentina fail to beat group leaders Lyon, it will all come down to the final game between the two sides.

Liverpool never do it the easy way, do they?

A win against Debrecen is widely expected, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion. The trip to Hungary makes the bout, which Liverpool narrowly won in the reverse fixture, a somewhat unknown quantity.

In the stadium named after one of the greatest footballers of all time, Ferenc Puskas, Liverpool's current crop have a chance to write their names in the history books with a good display.

There will, undoubtedly, be many comparisons between the predicament Liverpool find themselves in now and the one in 2005.

A good win against Debrecen would create an enormous interest in the Fiorentina match, provided the Italians don't topple Lyon.

It would be almost like Olympiakos all over again, where Steven Gerrard emphatically slammed Liverpool through to the next round, before guiding his team to the most unlikely of triumphs.

It is, of course, too early and ambitious to suggest any repeat of Istanbul, but tonight's match against Debrecen could prove to be a turning point for Liverpool's floundering season.

If results go their way, it would give them the impetus and confidence to believe that they might be able to pull off another Champions League miracle.

Confidence is key. Liverpool's run of just one win in ten games is unacceptable by their high standards, and it has surely knocked the self-belief of most of the squad, particularly those who have been given the brunt of the criticism.

There will, as ever, need to be a bit of luck involved. Lyon must avoid defeat against Fiorentina, otherwise the season could go from bad to worse.

If they do, then perhaps that will give the players a little spark of belief to join the inevitable flicker of fire that precedes the weekend's Merseyside derby.

Such a big match could be the perfect catalyst for Liverpool's revival. The win against Manchester United was great, but it meant nothing but bragging rights after they failed to follow it up.

This time, a failure to back up a win against Everton with a run of victories will ensure Liverpool's exit from the Champions League, as just one match separates the derby and the potentially vital match against Fiorentina.

The next two weeks, starting today, are crucial for Liverpool.

Champions League progression, and the substantial prize money that comes with it, are massively important. But one season's early exit from the Champions League isn't disastrous.

What would be disastrous, however, is the failure to secure a top four spot. A bad result at Goodison Park on Sunday could be the final nail in the coffin for Liverpool, and perhaps even Rafa Benitez this season.

With the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, Aston Villa, and Everton all competing for a place in the already full top four, the challenge is greater than ever, and Liverpool must rise to it.

While neither of these worst-case scenarios would cripple the club (touch wood), both combined would be devastating, which is why the next two weeks are so important for the future of Liverpool as one of the world's top clubs.

Sure, a loss to Everton wouldn't mean Liverpool are out of the running for that fourth spot, not by a long shot, but it will certainly hurt their chances and add further injury to the already wounded confidence of the club.

These next 14 days could turn a bad season into either a good one or a terrible one for the Reds, and could quite possibly affect the club's entire future.

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