Liverpool leads 3-0 on aggregate
PSV is currently 1st in the Eredivisie, 2 points ahead of Ajax
Champions League Group Stage results:
Liverpool: 2-3 Galatasaray (a); 2-0 PSV (h); 3-0 Bordeaux (h); 1-0 Bordeaux (a); 3-2 Gala (h); 0-0 PSV (a)
PSV: 1-3 Bordeaux (h); 0-2 Liverpool (a); 2-0 Galatasaray (h); 2-1 Galatasaray (a); 1-0 Bordeaux (a); 0-0 Liverpool (h)
Champions League 1st Knockout Round results:
Liverpool: 0-1 Barca (h); 2-1 Barca (a)
PSV: 1-1 Arse (a); 1-0 Arse (h)
Goal scorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Crouch 6; Garcia, Gerrard 3; Bellamy, Fowler, Riise 2; Gonzalez 1
PSV: Alex, Da Costa, Kone 2; Kromkamp, Mendez, Simons, Vayrynen 1
Liverpool: European Cup/Champions League 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976, 2001; UEFA Super Cup 1977, 2001, 2005
PSV: European Cup/Champions League 1988; UEFA Cup 1978
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (ITA)
Key players for PSV:
Jefferson Farfan: Peruvian striker who is the top scorer for PSV so far this season, and one of the most prolific in the Eredivisie. I’m stating the obvious, but being 3 goals down, PSV will need excellent games from their strikers.
Arouna Kone: Kone started over the weekend, and should return to partner Farfan. His pace will be crucial; like Farfan, he can unhinge the defense with his speed and a single mistake. Both he and Farfan will have to play blinders to get PSV back in this tie.
Phillip Cocu: Cocu is probably the most recognized name on PSV’s teamsheet. The midfielder both starred for the Holland national team and played for Barcelona from ’98-04, and despite his age (36), still makes PSV tick. After Simons’ deputized for the injured Alex in defense last week, Cocu played there for the majority of the game on Saturday, so there’s an excellent chance he may here as well.
My guess of a lineup:
Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Riise
Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso, Gonzalez
I am utterly at a loss as to pick the midfield. I can come up with arguments for Alonso, Sissoko, Mascherano, and Gerrard all playing. Alonso is fit again after missing the Reading match, and when fit, usually is one of the first names on the team sheet. I firmly believe he is that important to the team. I was tempted to think he’d start with Sissoko,
If at all possible, I’d love to see Gerrard get some rest with the tie looking out of PSV’s reach, but with Pennant one yellow away from a ban I can’t see Jermaine starting, which leaves Stevie the only real option on the right flank. I’ll be stunned if Gerrard isn’t subbed around the hour mark though.
Kuyt is suspended thanks to his “clever” booking picked up late last week, and Crouch should be a clear starter whether in Dirk’s place or not. Seems likely Bellamy would partner him, but the two did not combine that well at Reading, and this game, even though Benitez has consistently (and rightly so) reaffirmed that he will play a full strength side (whether than will actually happen remains debatable though), seems like one where Fowler could get an opportunity. Which I’m fully in favor of.
PSV continued their poor run domestically over the weekend, losing 2-1 to NEC Nijmegen, a team that sits 28 points behind them in the league and a team they beat 3-1 at home earlier in the season. It’s tired to say, but I’ll always reiterate it, you cannot look past anyone in Europe, especially at this stage, but PSV certainly isn’t having the best of spells.
It’s hard to write a preview with the usual clichés – can’t look past this match, it’s still only half-time, etc – when you don’t really believe them. Of course it is the Champions League; Deportivo la Coruña overturned 3 goals to come back from a 4-1 deficit to beat Milan in 2004. But considering the scoreline, considering the form of the two teams, this should not be in doubt. If Liverpool come out and play to their abilities, PSV should never have the chance make nerves rattle, which will happen if they score first and pull one back. Liverpool can’t put themselves in that position.