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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Champions League 1st leg review

Liverpool seem to go on from strength to strength so far, which has to be a promising point going into the Premiership season. Any defeats would have made us look like going forward one step, backwards two, all over again. I think the only time Pepe Reina was tested was last night, making a last minute save to deny CSKA Sofia a 2nd goal. Liverpool played at times dangerously, allowing CKSA to filter through on occasions. The Bulgarian side look strong and skillful when approaching and their main man was the Moroccan midfielder Mourad Hidiouad, who held onto the ball and skillfully made his way past tackles like they hardly existed. He and Djibril Cisse clashed verbally at one point in the 2nd half and I wondered if it was that which triggered the abuse rather than Cisse's goal. Nonetheless, the incidents in the Sofia crowd was unsavoury, serving yet again that UEFA has to clamp down if they wish to preserve the game's integrity. It was nice for Fernando Morientes to score for obvious reasons, and I hope he can carry that prowess into the Premiership, starting with Saturday. Concerns for me were Steve Finnan and Luis Garcia. Finnan did a good job at right back but was suspect for gazing when the ball was played down his side and the cross came over for Petar Dimitrov to head in. Liverpool should work on their defensive duties when under attack and particularly from set-pieces. All goals were good goals.

Everton had 37,000+ for their first European Champions night for 34 years. The team looked very strong and attacking, new acquisitions Phil Neville and Simon Davies added to the flair of the team, Neville sweeping behind Mikael Arteta and Tim Cahill, with Davies and Kevin Kilbane on the wings. Though they appear to face a difficult 2nd leg in the Estádio El Madrigal, the way the played a fast pace moving game while Villarreal took time toacclimatisee to the Goodison turf shows that the Toffees have a good team to overcome the Spanish side. With the 4-5-1, Cahill was free to drift into space to aid Beattie in attack, but I feel they will be at their strongest if, injuries permitting, they had Beattie with Marcus Bent, for Bent has strength, speed and good vision to play fight for the ball and play in Beattie. That would entail a 4-4-2, which would mean Neville coming into the middle with Cahill, Arteta and Kilbane on the flanks. Villarreal looked slightlyuneasyd at the back on Tuesday, and I think that played into theirhesitancyy to deal with the high ball that Beattie converted. Everton want to pressure their back four in the 2nd leg from the kick-off and I feel then they will get to capitalise. While Beattie's goal was important and Luciano Figueroa's was well-taken, Juan Moreno Josica's header was the best.

Man Utd should now has less off the pitch to bother them and more on to push them ahead. Rio Ferdinand has appeased the fans with the signing of a new contract, but there is still the resentment over the takeover by Malcolm Glazer. I think it would be better if the protestors get behind the team, because the Glazers are not leaving now. Nonetheless business was conducted as usual on a European night, with three goals to warm the crowd. Talk mentioned of Ruud Van Nistelrooy's lack of scoring affecting his season but the Dutchman still found the net with an assist from Wayne Rooney, having begun the scoring early and assisting Christiano Ronaldo for Utd's third. This match could have been a banana skin for the Red Devils, and the cancelled Péter Halmosi effort could have stood to make it all square again, but Utd went on to dispel the possibility, and the 2nd leg in Budapest should be a matter of tidying up theipassage intoto the group stages. Well taken goals, the best being Ronaldo's, as VNR passed to Rooney, who crossed for the Portuguese winger.



Blogger T said...

Nothing much can be added to your solid analysis Redsman.

I watched the Everton v Villareal match and as anticpated on EFT the Spanish team had too much ability for an Everton team that relies more on perspiration than inspiration. Figueroa's low, hard finish into the far corner of Martyns goal was a textbook clinical finish, and the electric pasing move finished by Sorin's accurate cross and the unstoppasble diving header from Josica has class stamped all over it.

On this showing it is the team in yellow that would make worthier champs league participants. It is very difficult to see Everton overcoming the 2-1 deficit in the second leg.

8/15/2005 12:19 pm


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