A quick preview of Wednesday’s CL qualifier before the Reds descent on the City of (shrinking?) Violets…
Liverpool at Toulouse
Champions League 3rd Round Qualifying
3:30 pm (10:30am EST) Wednesday, August 15
The Lowdown: Liverpool kick-off another Champions League campaign in France, hopeful that this season may be as successful as the last, if not by a few goals more. Wednesday’s match represents Toulouse’s maiden voyage into the European Cup/Champion’s League (here’s hoping it’s a short one), as they’ve only competed in Europe twice, both adventures in the UEFA Cup.
As we all know, Liverpool officially started their season with a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday. Toulouse have two Ligue 1 matches under their belt; an opening day defeat to Valenciennes (3-1) and a last minute victory over Lyon (1-0). Midfielder Nicolas Dieuze had the lone goal in their loss. Striker Johan Elmander, the club’s leading league scorer last season with 11 goals, scored the game winner against Lyon after the visiting French champions had Kim Kallstrom sent off in the 35th minute.
Pick your position on the Lyon win: impressive that they beat the league champions or not-so-impressive that last term’s third-placed team beat the champs within the comforts of their own home and it took them 65 minutes to find a goal with a man advantage. You decide.
Toulouse manager Elie Baup on the match-up:
We haven’t much chance of qualifying but we will do everything to cause an upset.
We’ll be playing a legend and that’s fabulous for our young guys.
Toulouse striker Andre-Pierre Gignac:
We would have liked an easier draw but over two matches everything is possible. We’ll be playing a fantastic club with fantastic supporters. We will need two dream matches but we can make it.
Pretty tame stuff. The general consensus, which I tend to agree with, is that Liverpool should be in full control of this tie. I like our chances of getting a goal or two this leg for a result somewhere around 1-0 or 2-1. Two goals and a clean sheet would make the return leg a formality.
And as if it matters, Wednesday’s officiating crew is from Greece.
The return leg is at Anfield, on Tuesday, August 28th.
5 Questions TBA:
- After utilizing a 4-4-2 on Saturday, will Rafa stick with two upfront, on the road, to a team assumed* to be weaker than Villa?
- Will Rafa change the wingers after mediocre performances from Riise and Pennant?
- Does Crouch get drafted in because of continental teams historic weakness against his size?
- With the perceived notion of more space & time in Europe as opposed to the Premier League, will Liverpool continue to push the tempo and play an upbeat attacking game away from home?
- Does Toulouse have any players other than Elmander who can/will hurt us?
(*this assumption is all my own)
For my money, I’d like to see Kewell and Benayoun start on the wings. Riise could be dropped back to left back. If Crouchie comes into the team, I think Kuyt may find himself the odd striker out. I’d also like to see Masch make the bench in favor of Momo.
To supplement my own two cents, let me add the words of one of Marseille’s newest signings, a player familiar to many Liverpool fans. Mr. Bolo Zenden’s ‘expert’ opinion on the Liverpool-Toulouse match-up:
I haven’t watched Liverpool in pre-season, but I know they have signed lots of players. The key will be that Liverpool will play the second leg at home. Generally, teams that travel there can’t keep a result. They (Toulouse) have to do well at home because the second leg will be very tough.
Other notable CL qualifying action this week…
Today: Freddy Adu may get his first taste of European action when Benfica welcomes Copenhagen… Dinamo Bucuresti (Romania) will surely be made to feel right at home by Lazio’s Ultras… Celtic host Crvena Zvezda (also known as 1991 CL winners Red Star Belgrade)… Elfsborg (Sweden) head to Valencia…
Wednesday: Arsenal’s da Silva travels back to Eastern Europe to take on Sparta Prague… Celtic travel to Spartak Moscow and thank their lucky stars that it’s still August… AEK Athens lock horns with UEFA Cup winners Sevilla… and Werder Bremen display that world-famous German hospitality as they host Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) (they actually are quite hospitable)…