Archive for the 'Champions League' Category

Back into Europe

The draw for the 3rd round of the Champion’s League draw has been held and our beloved Reds have been matched up against Belguim’s Standard Liege. The exact times and dates have yet to be nailed down but the Reds (although Standard are also nicknamed ‘the Reds’) will face the Jupiter League champions on their own soil on either August 12th or 13th and return to Anfield on the 26th or 27th.

I don’t know much about the Belgians and I only recognize one name on the roster — Oguchi Onyewu. Yes, the Gooch — the American center-back who couldn’t cut it at Newcastle. So, that may tell you a thing or two about the level of competition.

Rafa seems pleased enough (when speaking to .tv):

I think there are two very important things about this draw. Firstly, the second game is at home which is really, really important. Clearly that makes a massive difference to play the deciding game in front of our own fans. 
 
I’m also pleased because the travelling isn’t a problem. We don’t have to go too far which is good news, especially when you look at some of the teams we could have drawn. People may say it’s a kind draw for us but we will treat them with respect. We know some things about their team already but we will now watch more videos and get reports from our scouts before the first game. 
 
Of course we know about Oguchi Onyewu because he spent some time with Newcastle. Axel Witsel is a good young player and Wilfried Dalmat is probably the best player in their team. Alexandre Da Silva is a good defender as well, so we know they won’t be easy opposition for us. 
 
Overall though it is a good draw and we are happy.

I Like To Do Drawings

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From the Land of Knives and Misses (Switzerland), the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals (and semi’s) has been held and the results are in…

Liverpool will face Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday, April 2 and back at Tuesday, Anfield on April 8. As much as anybody would have loved to seen the weaker sides of Schalke or Fenerbahce, we all just had to know that we’d be facing another English team. While former Ian Rush look-a-like John Aldridge had recently said he wanted United, this tie will pit the last two losers of the CL final against one another. I certainly prefer them over United (whom are now on the other side of the draw). Maybe the Arse will even be pre-occupied with a title race?

And in keeping with that sentiment, should we advance past the Gunners, we get the winner of Chelsea-Fenerbahce. Chelsea in the semi’s — shocking.

The rest of the draw:

Roma v Man United
Schalke v Barcelona
Fenerbahce v Chelsea

The semi-final draw:

Arsenal or Liverpool v Fenerbahce or Chelsea
Schalke or Barcelona v Roma or Man United

Chelsea and Barca get what most people would assume are the easier draws, so hopefully one of them will choke on it. I certainly don’t envy United as Roma are in surging form and will likely look to right the wrong of last year’s elimination.

Whatcha think?

Michael Caine Movie Reference

1-0 (3-0 aggregate). Liverpool advance, Milan goes stays home and Mancini is quitting.

I canz unclench butt muscles now?

So, the team continues to prove it knows how to advance through Europe. While Inter had their chances, everybody on the pitch for Liverpool did their jobs effectively. I won’t go into a review of the performances now, but maybe we can talk more about Europe on Friday after the drawing for the Quarterfinals.

(edit: This is a particularly enjoyable first-hand account of the match by Robert Gotta)

Bringing back an old favorite (of mine, not necessarily yours)… my thoughts on (from during) the match:

  • I really like the Liverpool training gear. The white track top is particularly sharp. I need to put that thought out of my head… As if that’s just what I really need — more fucking Liverpool gear.
  • ESPN is already on top of their game, running video of Arsenal’s Fabergas when Tommy Smyth is talking about El Nino. Truly the World Wide Leader…
  • I remember a time when I actually feared Patrick Vieira’s influence on a game. Now? *laugh* His inclusion is good news.
  • Obviously, Rafa thinks highly of Skrtel (or ‘Skittles’ as JT has named him) if he’s pushing Carra out to deputize at right back (with Arbeloa available). Yet, it also gives them some flexibility with three centerbacks on the field. Having another young CB learning the ropes should prove invaluable next season once we have the DAgger back.
  • Babel gets a yellow card for… um… ignoring the ref’s direction to line up with the wall? Meh…
  • What started off as Liverpool pressure has evolved into constant Inter pressure. I worry about defending for such long periods of time over the duration.
  • I find it amusing everytime somebody talks or writes about Alonso missing the game, it’s b/c ‘his girlfriend is having a baby’. A baby… they never say his baby. I understand it’s assumed, but I have yet to read a single report saying he stayed back in Liverpool for ‘the birth of his child’. Maybe they know something I don’t? (I’m kidding…)
  • Kuyt and Carra try to get an exchange going on the right wing with poor results. Cue ‘The Odd Couple’ music. Continue reading ‘Michael Caine Movie Reference’

Don’t Stop Me Now…

cltrophy.jpgPredictions are bullshit.

But, that never stops me from making them ahead of the start of any competition. Well, now that the Group Stages of this year’s Champion’s League is done and dusted, it’s time to take a look back at my pre-Matchday One predictions for how the groups would go down. 

Let it not be said that I have any shame or am too proud to admit when I’m wrong (it’s easy when it happens so often)

Quite honestly, the seedings are dead-on and there shouldn’t be too many suprises. Yet, outside of Group A, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one iota if there were a ton of them.
For shits and giggles, I’ll say the groups might shake out like this:

Group B: The Dream Continues: Chelsea & Valencia; UEFA Cup-bound: Schalke; Thanks For Playing: Rosenberg

Of course, Valencia finished butt-naked last in the group. Chelsea did top the table, but it’s Schalke who advances with them and Rosenberg claiming the UEFA Cup berth.

Group C: The Dream Continues: Real Madrid & Werder Bremen; UEFA Cup-bound: Lazio; Thanks For Playing: Olympiacos

Once again, I did the easy part by picking Madrid to finish first. Hardly impressive. Even less impressively, I missed the rest of the group as the Greeks finish second, the Germans get the consolation prize and the ugly half of Rome gets dumped out.

Group D: The Dream Continues: Milan & Benfica; UEFA Cup-bound: Celtic; Thanks For Playing: Shakhtar

Milan as winner? Check. Benfica as runner-up. No, they’re UEFA Cup-bound as Gordon Strachan’s Bhoys advance to the knock-out stages. And there are no points for picking perennial doormat Shakhtar to finish last (only a point behind Benfica).

Group E: The Dream Continues: Barca & Stuttgart; UEFA Cup-bound: Lyon; Thanks For Playing: Rangers

I picked another group winner then took a crap on the rest of the group. Barca go through with Lyon, not Stuttgart (who actually finished laaaaast). Rangers actually had a chance at going through, but go to the UEFA Cup.

Group F: The Dream Continues: Man United & Roma; UEFA Cup-bound: Sporting; Thanks For Playing: Dynamo Kyiv

*slow, sarcastic clap* Congratulations, Sven. You got one right.

Group G: The Dream Continues: Inter & PSV; UEFA Cup-bound: Fenerbache; Thanks For Playing: CSKA Moskva

I ‘nailed’ the group winner and ultimate loser, but PSV watches Fenerbache advance.

Group H: The Dream Continues: Arsenal & Sevilla; UEFA Cup-bound: Slavia Prague; Thanks For Playing: FC Steaua

Sevilla top the group, not Arsenal. The Eastern Europeans did finish predictably, though.

And let’s not even talk about my predictions for Liverpool…

Wednesday, Oct. 3 — vs. Marseille

  • The return of Djib and Bolo. I’m sure they’ll recieve polite applause, but the spoils should go to the men in red.

Tuesday, Dec. 11 — at Marseille

  • We finish the group stage the same way we started; away from home. Hopefully, qualification will be locked up by this date and it’ll be a squad half-full of youngsters getting a run-out.

*rolls eyes*

Well, I did get one right…

Tuesday, Nov. 6 — vs. Besiktas

  • In theory, this should be a feast.

I think 8-0 qualifies as a ‘feast’.

Later this month, once the Premier League reaches the half-way mark, we’ll take a look at how badly my PL predictions are looking now. Fun, fun, fun.

The Odyssey Continues…

4-0.

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(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.

Continue reading ‘The Odyssey Continues…’

Liverpool at Marseille — LIVE BLOG

Welcome to 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.

The squads…

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.

Continue reading ‘Liverpool at Marseille — LIVE BLOG’

Live Blogging the Marseille Match

Yes, that’s right. Because I actually have nothing better to do, I’ll be trying my hand at live blogging Tuesday’s Liverpool – Marseille CL showdown.

It’s obviously a crucial game and you deserve the best.

But, in the absence of the best, you get me and all my witty observations.

The fun starts with ESPN 2’s TV coverage at 2:30pm (EST) before the match kicks off at 2:45pm.

Come join me, won’t you?