Liverpool FC News: FABIO AURELIO was as relieved as anyone that Liverpool beat the elements yesterday.
While many supporters were left grounded by the adverse weather conditions, the Reds finally made it to the Romanian capital after a delay while the wings of their plane were de-iced at John Lennon Airport.
They were greeted by rain, sleet and a biting wind in Bucharest but the Brazilian left-back has become accustomed to being out in the cold.
When he returned to Anfield in the summer after initially leaving when his contract expired at the end of last season he hoped it would signal a new start for him following a catalogue of injury problems.
However, an Achilles problem suffered in the Europa League qualifying round victory away to Trabzonspor in August put him back on the treatment table.
It’s been a long road back but Aurelio will start a game for the first time since that clash in Turkey when he lines up for the Reds against Steaua Bucharest tonight.
The 31-year-old has been waiting for this chance and after promising cameos against West Ham and Spurs is determined to take it.
“It’s been a frustrating time for me,” he said.
“I had the problem with my Achilles and since getting back fit I’ve been waiting for a start.
“It’s been difficult but I’ve just been focused on trying to get into the team.
“This is a big game for me.
“I have an opportunity and I hope I can show the manager that I’m in 100% good condition.
“Yes, I’ve been through a lot of injuries but I have overcome the lot of them and I was always confident I would come back.
“Now I’m hoping to stay fit and play a lot of games. I don’t think about the past, I’m just looking to the future.”
With Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt, Glen Johnson, Paul Konchesky, Raul Meireles and Maxi Rodriguez all left at home, along with injured duo Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, Aurelio is one of a select band of experienced players involved tonight.
The Brazilian knows he will have a key role to play in helping the likes of youngsters Martin Kelly, Danny Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey as the Reds seek the point they need to book their place in the last 32 of the Europa League with a game to spare.
“This is a really important competition for us and one we’ve been doing well in,” he added.
“The aim is to get three points against Steaua and make sure we go through as group winners.
“There will be a lot of changes to the team but it’s a big chance for those who come in to play from the beginning.
“All of us who start want to get the points and show the manager we are good enough to be considered for the future games.
“Those of us with experience have to show that against Steaua and for the young players it’s a great opportunity to gain some experience. I know the young players are excited about this game.”
Aurelio has met Steaua in their own backyard before having been part of the Valencia side knocked out of the UEFA Cup in February 2005.
Despite winning 2-0 in Spain, they went out on penalties after a 2-0 defeat in Bucharest.
“I remember that it’s a very difficult place to come,” he said.
“We lost that time but I hope this time it will be a different story.
“Steaua are good and we’re expecting a hard game but we are Liverpool. Okay we haven’t come with a full squad but we are approaching the game very seriously.
“You could see an improvement in the team at Spurs last weekend. Everyone has been working hard in training and we all know what the manager wants from us.
“The team has been getting it right with some very good football in the last few games.
“We know we aren’t at our best level but we are getting there.
“I believe we are going in the right direction and we want to show that again in this game.”
The Reds’ away following will be severely depleted by the travel chaos and Aurelio admits they will be sorely missed.
“It’s terrible if they can’t get here,” he said. “They follow us everywhere to support us and help us during games.
“I just hope a lot of them are able to make it and we can respond to their backing with a good performance.”
Liverpool swept Steaua side 4-1 at Anfield back in September but since then Ilie Dumitrescu has been replaced as coach by Romanian legend Marius Lacatus.
The 1986 European Cup winners moved off the bottom of Group K with a 3-1 victory over Utrecht on matchday four. Striker Bogdan Stancu scored twice that night and is Steaua’s top scorer with 15 goals so far this season.