The Odyssey Continues…



(pic: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

While I had great faith in Liverpool’s ability to win this match, by no means would I have guessed that the game would be in hand so early on and effectively sealed the result right after the half-time break.

The match started exactly as I thought (and hoped) it would, with both teams coming out with all guns blazing. But, the match quickly was turned on its ear when Liverpool’s highest caliber weapons (Stevie G and El Nino) shot Marseille’s hopes full of holes after only 11 minutes.

Four goals, a clean sheet and no apparent serious injuries (assuming Mascherano holds up, but it looked as if he wasn’t too bad off) will go a long way in rendering this past Saturday’s match a blip on the radar and should also serve to fill the squad (and the fans) with cautious optimism ahead of Sunday’s clash with Manchester United.

Individually, the superlatives are easy to dish out because so little went wrong for the Reds. Torres and Kuyt both displayed their usually high work rate, not only constantly asking tough questions of the OM backline, but stoutly defending from the front. Those two seem to link up pretty well (then again, Torres seems able to do it with anyone) and once again, we see just how dangerous Fernando Torres can be at any given time (cue broken record). He seems have a plan of attack for each and every area of the final third he finds himself in and he continues to demonstrate the inate ability to shed defenders like a tree does its autumn leaves.

Does this look familiar?


(pic: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Benayoun, though it could be said had a quieter match than some of his teammates, was industrious on the right side of midfield. His counterpart on the left continues to fill me belief that a healthy Harry Kewell may just be the perfect solution on that side of the midfield (please don’t let me down, Harry… or Harry’s body, as it should be). Mascherano’s name might not have popped up too often, but his job of shielding the backline and allowing the ever-excellent captain to venture forward was well done.

The backline held steady, bending a few times but never breaking. Riise had a solid game at left back, although one can assume that future starts that position will be few and far between should the squad stay healthy. Hyypia continues to enjoy a resplendid season, suggesting the old dog still has life in him after all. I hope his legs carry him through the second part of the season in the same steed.

Read the match report here.

Stevie G’s penalty and put-back. — (this one shows the foul, though)

Torres’ outstanding goal.

Kuyt’s well taken goal.

Babel’s injury time icing on the cake.

So, Rafa and the lads rose to the occasion and got the results they needed. We obviously can all feel a little better now that their squad’s attention can be focused back on domestic issues for the next three months. Plus, there’s probably never a better time to have United and Chelsea back-to-back on the fixture list with the team playing the way they have.

The captain on the night’s performance:

The most important word in the team talk was cup final. When the manager says it’s a cup final situation you know you have got to give everything you’ve got. From the goalkeeper to the front men, every one of us has done our job.

We made it difficult for ourselves in this group. We are disappointed it came down to the last game. We needed to perform tonight. It was a performance full of character and hard work. We knew we’d got the quality so we’re very happy with the performance.

Rafa sounds to be in good spirits about it all too: 

I am really proud of the players and the supporters. It was an amazing performance from everyone concerned with Liverpool.

The players had the right mentality. The key was they were really focused on the game. We scored an early goal and afterwards we controlled nearly everything.

Now I am thinking about United.

That kind of sends a shiver down your spine, doesn’t it?

Let’s not forget this is a team that is still sans Alonso and Agger. With the reinsertion of those two top-tier talents back into the rotation (no pun intended) might be labeled as tricky, I have to trust that Rafa will continue to draw out the best from his players. While we’re not even quite to the halfway mark, it’s still promising to be alive in all competitions and recording the results that we have. I’m getting quite used to seeing Torres, Gerrard and Babel score with regularity (one might even say I’m getting spoiled by it).

United is next up.


8 Responses to “The Odyssey Continues…”

  1. 1 Keith December 11, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    You can’t say enough just how bad both of those teams jerseys — or kits, rather — are. My gosh there’s a lot of ugly on that field.

    As far as the game, I really wish I could’ve kept up with the liveblogging, but unfortunately finals week has thrown my sleep schedule completely out of whack, and the first half coincided with my post-Theo final nap. I’m eagerly awaiting Sunday’s matchup vs Man-U — it better be on FSC (//shakes angry fist).

  2. 2 drew.catt December 11, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    You know what I want to see at some point – a straight out attacking front line. Babel and Torres. None of this 1-1, one forward, one ‘attacking midfielder’ toss.


    Ok, I’m just happy to be in good spirits after Saturday.

    As to how Rafa is going to fit Alonso back into the lineup (Agger really isn’t a worry), I think we’ve already seen how it’s going to work.

    Kewell on the left providing width, Alonso and Mascherano holding the middle, and Gerrard starting from the right, but playing a roaming role between midfield and the forward line.

    We may also see more 5 man midfields, with Kuyt or Voronin on the right hand side, allowing Gerrard to play exclusively in the middle.

  3. 3 beingsven December 12, 2007 at 12:51 am

    I think (or prefer) that Masch goes to the bench and Alonso and he can partner (whom at which game decided by Rafa) with Gerrard, leaving Benayoun & Kewell (and Babel) on the wings to provide true width.

    I strongly dislike the ‘Gerrard on the right but goes whereever’ simply for the purposes of proper shape. Put him in the middle and let him run riot all over, therefore not opening up a space on the flank that can be more easily taken advantage of than the central midfield would.

    I also dislike strikers playing wide. Babel could be that exception b/c he’s both winger and striker. But Voronin and Kuyt, despite their high work rate, are much less effective in such a wide role.

  4. 4 drew.catt December 12, 2007 at 1:00 am

    I’m not disagreeing with you on any of those points. I would rather a traditional 4-4-2 with Alonso and Mascherano alternating.

    All I’m saying is that given Rafa’s history, and the formations he has deployed in the past (just look at what he started at Arsenal the last time Alonso was fit), we’re more likely to see that kind of deployment.

  5. 5 DenverRed December 12, 2007 at 1:43 am

    I’ll just be happy when Alonso returns, and Momo is pushed further down the pecking order. I agree that Gerrard should stay in the middle, but would like to see Mascherano employed in Europe with Alonso used more in the PL. The mind spins at what his precision passing could do with a player like Torres.

  6. 6 Georger December 12, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    eccleston, pourie, amoo, mackay all score again
    offseason youth acquisitions have been dead on thus far
    *knocks on wood*

  7. 7 JerseyHoya December 13, 2007 at 1:17 am

    We’re like 32 hours on from the win, and it’s still a lot of fun. I’ve watched the youtube highlights like ten times.

    Wish I could watch this weekend. Hope it keeps on rolling.

  8. 8 beingsven December 13, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I discovered my internet provider (AT&T) has ESPN360, so I can rewatch the game on the computer for free. Wish I had checked earlier, because they carried the other CL games that didn’t make it to air through that. *sigh* (well, not all of them, but…)

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