I honestly don’t know how to feel after that.
Obviously, I’m disappointed in the loss. But Liverpool was second best, and I’m not entirely surprised with the result following that line-up and formation. I think many wanted to see reserves and youth players get runs out and senior players rested (I know I did), and when the squad is changed like this, in a venue like Istanbul in the Champions League to boot, these games happen.
I don’t want to take anything away from Gala; they rested players, were without Arda Turan through suspension and Sukur through injury, and could have (should have) won by more. The pick of the litter was Okan’s volleyed goal, Gala’s second, as he absolutely smacked Agger’s clearing header inside the post from 30+ yards out.
It’s not as if there weren’t positives to take away. It’s always nice to see Fowler get goals, and his two today were his first goals in the Champions League proper. The first of which he scored with his thigh, with Bellamy proving the cross from a similar position as Crouch’s goal versus Chelsea in the Community Shield. The second came after a good run (beating the defender!) and cross from Pennant. Despite the perpetual grief he gets, I thought Pennant played fairly well today. Yes, his corners frequently hit the first man (and that needs to stop), but he looked better in open play, and did most of the work for the second goal. Bellamy also put in another good game, looking industrious and running hard the entire time on the pitch.
Granted, there were negatives as well. Two of the goals were partly Liverpool’s own doing; Alonso’s misplayed pass for Gala’s first and Riise’s stumble/poor tackling on the third were errors frustrating from senior players. While it was good to see Paletta and Peltier get starts, neither had games to write home over. Paletta in particular seemed unsure of himself, especially considering his good performances in the Carling Cup. All said, the backline looked shaky and had moments of madness similar to troubles early in the season, but it’s not as worrying when it’s not the first string, or a quartet that infrequently plays together. In general, it felt like some players weren’t completely up for the game, and while it’s not completely surprising given the circumstances, it’s never heartening to see.
But at the end of the day, it still seems that this was no more than a friendly match in the middle of the season. As requested, everyone’s coming back injury-free, and Paletta, Peltier, and Guthrie (along with Miki Roque off the bench) made full debuts in European competition. The focus can be on the League for the next month (aside from the Arse League Cup match in two weeks, of course) and hopefully we shall see subsequent progress in form.
Roll on Fulham.