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Exactly five years ago, Maccabi Haifa had been drawn against Liverpool in the Champions League third qualifying round, but was kicked out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player against Haka of Finland, which went through to play the Anfield team at Haifa's expense.

Back then, Liverpool was the UEFA Cup champion and the FA Cup holder. Today it once again holds the FA Cup and is a year after its dramatic Champions league victory.

In any event, the club is one of the most illustrious in Europe and one of the top supported foreign teams in Israel.

For the Haifa players the task will begin when they march through the narrow corridor from the dressing room to the field where they will pass under a banner marked: "This is Anfield." Legendary Liverpool manager Bob Paisley used to say visiting teams would drop points before they had even stepped out on to the field.

Liverpool under coach Rafa Benitez is a team with a distinctly Spanish flavor. Benitez brought most of his professional staff with him from Valencia and 10 players from La Liga have followed the coach to Anfield - Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia and goalkeeper Pepe Reina are the prominent players in the Spanish contingent.

The Liverpool squad with Sami Hyypia, Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise at the back; Garcia, Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Harry Kewell in midfield; Peter Crouch and Robbie Fowler up front has received a significant boost over the summer. Benitez sold Fernando Morientes to Valencia and Dietmar Hamann to Manchester City and brought in striker Craig Bellamy from Blackburn and rising midfield talent Jermaine Pennant from Birmingham.

His former charge Brazilian defender Fabio Aurelio came in from Valencia and another rising talent Argentine defender Gabriel Paletta from Banfield.

Liverpool finished third in the English Premier League last season and won the FA Cup in dramatic fashion after a penalty shootout against Yossi Benayoun's West Ham.

The team begins its season next Sunday against league champion Chelsea in the Charity Shield.

Yesterday Liverpool played German Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern. New signings Craig Bellamy and Gabriel Paletta started while Jermaine Pennant started the game on the substitute's bench.

Ricardo Villar gave the hosts the lead before Bellamy equalized on the hour mark. Luis Garcia put Liverpool ahead eight minutes later but Marcel Ziemer hit two goals in the last 20 minutes to snatch the win.