Thunderdome the Velodrome!
Two teams enter, one leaves…
I don’t need to tell y’all the significance of this Matchday Six match-up. A win puts Liverpool through to the Champions League knock-out stages, regardless of the Besiktas-Porto result. But, should Besiktas prevail in Portugal, a draw will see our Reds through (because Marseille, Liverpool and Porto all finish level — Marseille holds the head-to-head over Liverpool, but Porto has it over Marseille so the second tie-breaker is Goal Difference and that puts Liverpool through. *deep breath*)
But, y’all already knew all that.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Benayoun, Gerrard, Kewell, Mascherano, Kuyt, Torres (Itandje, Finnan, Aurelio, Crouch, Babel, Lucas, Hobbs).
Marseille: Mandanda, Bonnart, Givet, Rodriguez, Taiwo, Cana, Cheyrou, Valbuena, Zenden, Ziani, Niang.
2:33pm — Of course, we’ve got Tommy Smyth doing color for ESPN. I’ll keep a running ‘Old Onion Bag’ count….
2:35pm — The Liverpool squad has some width in it with Kewell and Benayoun on the wings. And talk about defending from the front with Kuyt and Torres. Let’s hope there’s no residual effects on Torres’ ankle.
We get our usual look back at the previous match b/w OM and Liverpool. Next… our upcoming schedule!!! (i.e. Let’s talk about United)
2:40pm — Speaking of United (kinda, not really)… I saw Posh Spice on Larry King Live the other night and she said that Becks was on tour with the Spice Girls and “he’s a Spice Boy — the original Spice Boy”
Ummmm… not that I think they’re looking to hang on to that moniker, but methinks Steve McManaman & Co. could argue that.
2:44pm — adidas should be ashamed of themselves. LOOK AT THOSE KITS. The salmon abortion of Marseille meets the black with half-assed red slash of Liverpool. I do like the kit without the Carlsberg logo (can’t advertise alcohol like that in France), but it looks like a training kit.
1′ — Kickoff. Tommy Onion Bag thinks Liverpool’s left side is suspect. We’ll see how quickly he changes that tune once Riise unleashes a laser (he’s overdue). Pepe boots up to Torres… I kinda like this new outlet.
3′ — GERRARD!! The captain surges into the box and draws the foul. A clear foul! Stevie G steps up and puts the ball back into the net after the initial save!! *sigh* 10 goals in 11 games. EXACTLY THE START WE NEEDED! 1-0!
6′ — This game is already full of energy and emotion, five minutes in. I can’t imagine the toll it will take over 90 minutes. Riise skies a free-kick (foul drawn by Benayoun) well over and wide.
9′ — Marseille are not afraid to foul. I’m worried about the knocks Torres is going to take as he draws a free kick 30-some yards out. Gerrard puts it in, corner conceeded. Nothing comes of it.
10′ — Mascherano kicks a field goal as ESPN’s shot keeps going to black. They must really be trying to impress on news that they want PL broadcast rights in Europe.
12′ — I miss the second goal b/c the Worldwide Leader’s shot is gone. *sigh* Cunts. Torres scores a quality goal, walking through a few defenders and nails it home. 2-0 LIVERPOOL!
14′ — Rafa wasn’t kidding… these boys are ready. I want to see this level of energy and play on Sunday… (I know, I’m getting ahead of myself…) Impressively, now the camera work is even shit (probably not ESPN’s though).
17′ — Not that it matters, but it’s still scoreless in Portugal. The game looks as if it’s settling down. It would have been almost impossible to keep up that same neck-breaking pace for 90.
20′ — I wonder if somebody talked to Tommy Smyth about saying ‘old onion bag’. Maybe he can only use it twice a telecast, so he saves them up, like hording vacation days. Torres continues to make fools of defenders, turning and twisting them, rendering them useless.
21′ — It looks as if ESPN picked their jock up off the floor and gotten the picture problems figured out. Kewell makes a great run/dribble down the left (off a Gerrard pass), and crosses to Kuyt, who has his balloon-like header saved. Ah… Zenden takes a throw-in… how I don’t miss him.
24′ — Torres is defending 35 yards from the Liverpool goal. Marseille get a good chance, with Valbuena receiving the ball in a dangerous position within the box, but Pepe comes out and the French midfielder ends up losing control over the byline.
26′ — The home crowd is back in full voice as OM have more prolonged possession in the Liverpool half. Play is stopped as Givet gets a love tap from Kuyt’s boot on the head. This is a dangerous stretch for Liverpool. They can’t afford to relax and let Marseille back into this match.
29′ — Hyypia fails to clear properly with a header and the ball is put right back in. Pepe is there, though. Liverpool seem content to defend now — just boot it up and close Marseille back down once they come forward.
30′ — Valbuena makes a meal out of contact with Carra. Albeit, Carra kicks his arm up high, but Valbuena does the usual ‘grab the body part and scream like a pussy’. Yellow for the vice-captain. OM are bossing possession right now.
34′ — Nobody is backing down from any of the challenges. I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s a good chance we see red on a rash tackle tonight. Marseille make a change, taking Cheyrou (brother of you-know-who) off for Nasri.
36′ — Marseille are driving forward and honestly, not having too much problem getting through. But, they have yet to put in a real challenge on Reina. On the other side of the field, Torres jinxes his way along the 18, through three defenders, but eventually loses it. El Nino — truly a force of nature.
38′ — Nasri has (probably unintentionally) the back of his collar popped. I now hate him. Zenden whips in a free-kick, Masch clears. The following corner drops in the 18, but is cleared. Zenden gets sent back in, but the cross is cleared. Torres gets called for almost nothing on the counter attack. Liverpool are really just itching to give up a goal before halftime.
40′ — Kewell gets fouled and we get a good shot of him screaming ‘Fuck You’ at the OM defender. Gerrard on the free-kick… and he puts it juuuuust wide. Six inches. Cana gets a yellow seconds later for hacking Torres down from behind. Another free-kick, it gets deflected to Kewell, who puts it two feet over. Unlucky.
44′ — The game has swung back in Liverpool’s favor. They’re winning every 50-50 ball and dispossesing Marseille players constantly. After pushing past his defender, Torres goes wide with a quick flick that nobody sees coming.
45′ — Liverpool look as sharp and as quick in regards to starting a counter attack as I’ve seen them for quite some time. And I’ve been disregarding my Soccernet Gamecast and have to be told that Gonzalez has scored for Porto. 1-0. Niang takes a dive in the Liverpool box but there’s no call.
HALFTIME — 45 down, 45 to go. Liverpool let OM back in for a 10-15 minute spell, but closed the half out strongly and seem to have physical superiority over their French opponents. Givet comes off seconds before the whistle. Why Marseille made that switch then is odd, but then again, considering he only took the knock a minute earlier. Couldn’t see the half (all 70 seconds of it) through? Pussy.
We got a look at the Porto goal which seems slightly sketchy, but honestly, I could give a fuck as long as Liverpool approach the 2nd half with the same vigor they displayed in the first.
46′ — Cisse starts the half in place of Zenden. That’s it for Marseille subs. Cisse is sporting a beard of its natural color. Shocking. (the head hair, however, is not) Torres starts the half by out-running Faty down the right side, resulting in a Liverpool throw-in.
48′ — It also appears Cisse is wearing a turtleneck. *sigh* KUYT SCORES! 3-0. Kewell passes to Torres, who dummies it and only Kuyt follows it into the box. And we get an ‘Onion Bag’ from Tommy. Spectacular.
50′ — One more Cisse update… he’s wearing orange boots. The man has no equal. OM get a corner, which is cleared which prompts a poor shot, which is also cleared. Liverpool are still actively closing their opponents down.
52′ — A OM penalty shout but the ref has none of it. Pepe then has to come out to the edge of his box for a dangerous airborne intervention. Marseille are picking up steam but the boys in black aren’t giving them much quarter.
Speaking of Georger’s drinking, I went on a nice 11-hour bender Sunday night after my Regular Season Winning side crashed out of the play-offs. From 3pm to 2am… it was quality. I also now love that Van Gogh — expresso liquor. Tasty shots.
56′ — It occurs to me that Liverpool could get a little spoiled with Torres up front, because just booting the ball downfield actually works with him up there. Niang is limping for OM, but they can’t take him off. Tough titties.
59′ — Tommy Smyth: “It’s hard to understand what’s going on at Liverpool.”
You mean, besides the (mostly) sparkling form? This owner vs. Rafa talk is as stale as week-old bread. And Tommy alludes to rotation… Get off it.
Torres gets into the last third butt-naked alone, but doesn’t have much and fritters it away with a shot from no angle. But, if anybody has earned the right to shoot whenever he feels like it…
63′ — The pace of this match has dropped off considerably (and understandably). Liverpool know they can afford to knock it around. Marseille, however, can’t but their efforts are lacking any real passion. Enter your own French surrender joke here.
65′ — Valbuena puts the ball on Cisse’s head but the former Liverpool man goes just wide. Corner, as it must have touched Carra. And Porto are ahead by two. Liverpool’s chances of winning the group have more or less vanished. *shrug* It would have been nice, but qualification will do for me today.
67′ — Aurelio for Kewell. Good move. Harry had a productive day, but he needs to be protected. Maybe the injection of fresh legs on that left side might give us another goal. Fabio, by the way, is sporting a fresh buzz cut.
71′ — You can hear the chants of “Liv-er-pool… Liiiiv-er-pool”. The Marseille crowd have effectively been silenced. And their team isn’t doing much to bring them back to life. Torres gets tripped 40-some yards out. Might we see Crouch in his place soon?
73′ — Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing Babel up top for shits and giggles, but I think that would be unlikely. Marseille have a free kick 35-ish out, but put it over by a solid ten feet. I’m not sure the crowd noticed. Liverpool are passing around them. I will say, Liverpool have put together a good game so far. They’ve not done a lot wrong. Even (most of) the passing is still crisp.
77′ — Kuyt and Benayoun conspire to slow down and snuff out what could have been a good opportunity. Babel for Torres! Maybe Lucas for Gerrard next?
79′ — OM sky another free kick well over. They have eight shots, none of them on goal. Babel is down, but Faty literally picks him up off the ground.
81′ — Mascherano is writhing on the ground, right inside the penalty box. It looks like he caught a stud in the leg from Hyypia. Javier takes a ride on the stretcher, grimacing the whole way off. Hey, Rafa… you break it, you buy it.
86′ — Mascherano is back on the field and mixing it up. Lucas is coming on for Kuyt. I’m glad to see Dirk get a goal for all the effort he puts in out there.
88′ — Gerrard puts a ball downfield for Babel to run onto and the kid has some serious acceleration. Nothing eventually comes of it, but to see him go from behind to in front of his defender is exciting. And Aurelio picks up a yellow for cutting Bonnart down.
90′ — Not that it matters, but Chelsea are currently on a scoreless draw. *shrug* And I just saw Babel sporting some new sideburns. Interesting. And by ‘interesting’, I mean ‘not really’. And the Sideburned One grabs himself another substitute’s goal after Fabio puts him through. 4-0. The kid has pace and talent. Promising…
And that’s all she wrote. Liverpool get the job done, pass the test, step up to the plate or whatever cliche you’d like to use.
Next up, Manchester United. And one wonders, will that game feature the return of some other danger players for Liverpool? (as if we don’t have enough right now)