17 March 2010

Liverpool v Lille 03.18.10

Lille lead 1-0 on aggregate.

4:00pm ET, live in the US on DirecTV channel 462 (or in HD on 462-1). Delayed on GolTV at 8pm.

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 4-1 Pompey (h); 0-1 Lille (a); 0-1 Wigan (a)
Lille: 1-0 Grenoble (h); 1-0 Liverpool (h); 1-1 St Etienne (a)

Round of 32:
Liverpool: 3-1 Unirea (a); 1-0 Unirea (h)
Unirea: 1-1 Fenerbahce (a); 2-1 Fenerbahce (h)

Group Stage Results:
Liverpool: 1-2 Fiorentina (h); 1-0 Debrecen (a); 1-1 Lyon (a); 1-2 Lyon (h); 0-2 Fiorentina (a); 1-0 Debrecen (h)
Lille: 3-1 Slavia Prague (h); 1-3 Valencia (a); 2-3 Genoa (a); 3-0 Genoa (h); 5-1 Slavia (h); 1-1 Valencia (h) [Europa League]

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Benayoun, Babel, Ngog 2; Gerrard, Kuyt, Mascherano 1
Lille: Gervinho 5; Hazard 4; Frau, Vittek 3; Cabaye, Dumont, de Melo, Obraniak 2; Balmont, Beria, Rami, Souquet 1

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)

Guess at a squad:
Reina
Johnson Carragher Agger Insua
Lucas Mascherano
Kuyt Gerrard Benayoun
Torres

So much for seeing the same line-up as against Portsmouth (save Kuyt for Maxi, obviously). Aquilani’s health just won’t let that happen. Stupid virus.

Chances are we’re back to dance with the formation that brung us. The other possibilities both see Gerrard in midfield: 4-4-2 or Kuyt/Benayoun taking over the Gerrard role in the 4-2-3-1. But Gerrard and Torres linked well for the first time in a long time on Monday. Now that Stevie and Torres might have rediscovered their partnership, it’s not the time to move Gerrard deeper.

Maxi’s ineligibility means the flanks will be two from Babel, Benayoun, and Kuyt. Kuyt seems nailed-on: it’s Europe and he was rested (Rafa doesn’t drop Kuyt!) against Pompey. Babel was almost a revelation on Monday, but I think he’s more likely to start against the Mancs, where counter-attacking and pace will be more crucial. Benayoun’s guile at home, with Babel off the bench, seems the straightforward option tomorrow, but those roles could easily be reversed.

What worked against Pompey was pouring men forward, looking for a testing pass that advances play rather than probing for openings before hoofing toward Kuyt or Torres. No matter who plays in midfield tomorrow, that’ll be key. Liverpool can’t let the likes of Hazard, Cabaye, and Obraniak get chances on the break, which is an argument for Lucas/Masch in and of itself, but keeping the ball and using it well will decide whether Liverpool win or lose this game. The tactics, more than the line-up, will make or break tomorrow.

We saw what Lille can do a week ago. They won’t be content with a 1-0 lead, and will look to add to it through the previously identified threats. They’ll pack their own half and try to spring like lightning when available. Liverpool’s seen it before, even if Hazard presents a problem like few other wingers.

This season’s obviously been different from past campaigns, but I still shouldn’t have to remind what Liverpool’s capable of in Europe. No matter recent results, 0-1 at home is easily remedied. It’s only halftime.

9 comments:

Mike Georger said...

This Riera stuff is depressing. I always liked him.

Won't matter though because Joe Cole will be starting on the left for us next year.

I honestly thought the Aquilani virus article on LFC's site was a mistake, felt like I'd read the exact one like twice already.

Today is going to be a crazy sports day.

Mike Georger said...

Also happy birthday Danny Murphy.

nate said...

Riera can go jump off a cliff for all I care. Shitbox, bush league timing. Even Babel went to see the manager to ask why he wasn't playing (and now he's getting game time). Riera bitches to Marca after coasting through an entire season waiting for the World Cup. I can't remember one good game he's had this year.

Nice job, Quagmire.

nate said...

Also, it'll be Milan Jovanovic starting on the left next season.

Mike Georger said...

The fact that the club has never actually acknowledged that signing worries me.

I can barely remember one game he's played this year period, kind of assumed he would be gone anyways. He should be benched strictly for coming out with that after a win.

Mike Georger said...

.... though I'm not sure how you bench a player who isn't playing.

I'm terrified of the idea of another guy who usually plays as a striker being played in midfield. But at least this one (if he ever actually signs for us) didn't cost 10 or 20 million pounds.

nate said...

In theory, adding a player like Jovanovic, supposedly similar to Kuyt, would make the formation closer to a 4-2-1-3. Now, that would mean that Kuyt and Jovanovic would need to get into the box more than the wingers do now, but that kind of goes without saying. It also means we need to see more attacking width from the fullbacks (which has been the plan for almost 3 years now).

Mike Georger said...

Makes sense. From what I've seen of him he has one hell of a left foot.

I just had a dream about Riera. It consisted of him misplaying a pass and that was it. Sounds about right.

Mike Georger said...

Didi's comments are great

Bye bye Riera. Enjoy playing in Magnitigorsk you Hank Azaria looking punk.