After settling down on my couch to let the Besiktas loss sink in (and watch ‘Serenity’ on HBO… not half bad), I let my mind run. Where it went sort of suprised me.
Shockingly, I didn’t go for the doom & gloom. I didn’t rage against the inadequacies I’d just witnessed. I wasn’t even perturbed at Sami’s newfound love for putting us in a hole.
Instead, I just thought, “They can still do this. It’s not done. They’ve still got a shot.”
(How much of this is down to the influence of Joss Whedon, I don’t know)
As it turns out, I’m not the only one. Rafa on yet another European disappointment:
Obviously it is very difficult now for us to get through but I believe we still can. There are three games left and we must win all three, but we can do that.
We have to wait to see now what we must do, how the numbers add up. The fact that Porto drew with Marseille in the other group game was a help for us, it certainly improves our options.
A sober view from the manager. Glad to hear him not sugar-coating it. Then again, he did slide this in:
If we continue to play like we did in this match, with so much dominance, we have a chance.
What he’s talking about is 26 shots, 11 corners and 64% of the possession. You would expect, looking at those numbers (especially compared to those of Besiktas), that Liverpool won.
Obviously they didn’t and for a multitude of reasons. Mostly, silly defending which leads to crap goals and an inability to put the ball in the back of the net when they desperately need to. Oh yea, keeping their wits about them, not breaking down and abandoning their style of play for desperate ploys, too.
I hate to be the optimist, because I’m not the rah-rah/Paul Tomkins-type. But as unlikely as qualification to the knock-out stages seems, it really isn’t all that impossible.
No, seriously. I haven’t drank any Kool-Aid. Hear me out.
Here’s what the table (inexplicably) looks like now:
- Marseille — 7 points with a goal difference of +3
- Porto — 5 points with a goal difference of +1
- Besiktas — 3 points with a goal difference of -2
- Liverpool — 1 point with a goal difference of -2
While there are a few scenarios which could see Liverpool through to the knock-out stage, I’ll stick with the idea that Liverpool will have to win all three of the remaining games. And in the interest of not getting carried away, we’ll award Liverpool the slimest margin of victory.
So, in a fortnight’s time…
11/6 — Liverpool vs. Besiktas, Porto vs. Marseille
Liverpool 1 – Besiktas 0, Porto 0 – Marseille 1
- Marseille — 10 points with a goal difference of +4
- Porto — 5 points with a goal difference of 0
- Liverpool — 4 points with a goal difference of -1
- Besiktas — 3 points with a goal difference of -3
Since Marseille already lead the group, it’s in Liverpool’s best interest that they keep on winning and take points away from Porto. This is key to the whole scenario. A draw in France isn’t ideal, but as long as Liverpool win, it’s not the end.
11/28 — Liverpool vs. Porto, Besiktas vs. Marseille
Liverpool 1 – Porto 0, Besiktas 0 – Marseille 2
- Marseille — 13 points with a goal difference of +6
- Liverpool — 7 points with a goal difference of 0
- Porto — 5 points with a goal difference of -1
- Besiktas — 3 points with a goal difference of -5
Liverpool obviously have to win, but it would be expected that Marseille can beat Besiktas in Turkey. Even a draw here would suffice, assuming Marseille won last round. If the Turks find a way to win, things get stickier.
12/11 — Marseille vs. Liverpool, Porto vs. Besiktas
Marseille 0 – Liverpool 1, Porto 3 – Besiktas 0
- Marseille — 13 points with a goal difference of +5
- Liverpool — 10 points with a goal difference of +1
- Porto — 8 points with a goal difference of +2
- Besiktas — 3 points with a goal difference of -8
Porto can hammer Besiktas or the other way around, it doesn’t really matter. At this point, Liverpool just need to keep winning. Even if Besiktas had won the previous round and won again, they’d be a point behind Liverpool.
Best case scenario: Djibril and Bolo do their old team a favor and win out, leaving Liverpool to its own devices.
I’m sure we’ll be treated to some tough talk from the players in the next few days. The captain will say it’s not good enough and we must do better. Sami or Carra will say the defense needs to cut out the mistakes. Maybe Pennant or Riise will say they know what they have to do now and will refocus.
We’ve heard that bullshit before, infact many times already this season and it means nothing. What they need to do is stop talking and start playing.
And they can. They are more than capable of pulling themselves out of this.
Question is, will they?
Understand, I’m not making any predictions. It’s merely plausible. The chances are thin. Pretty fucking thin. But do-able.
Hell, we needed three goals in Instanbul. Now, we need three games after Istanbul.
Then again, I’m not worrying about this until after the Arsenal match.