04 December 2006

Liverpool at Galatasaray 12.05.2006

2:45pm. Available in the US on Setanta Sports.

Galatasaray is currently 2nd in the Turkish league

Champions League Group Stage results:
Liverpool: 2-0 PSV (h); 3-0 Bordeaux (h); 1-0 Bordeaux (a); 3-2 Galatasaray (h); 0-0 PSV (a)
Galatasaray: 1-3 Bordeaux (a); 0-2 PSV (a); 1-2 PSV (h); 2-3 Liverpool (a); 0-0 Bordeaux (h)

Goal scorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Crouch 5; Garcia 3; Gerrard 2; Bellamy, Gonzalez 1
Galatasaray: Ilic, Karan, Turan 2; Inamoto, Sabri, Sas, Sukur 1

European History:
Liverpool: European Cup/Champions League 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976, 2001; UEFA Super Cup 1977, 2001, 2005
Galatasaray: UEFA Cup 2000; UEFA Super Cup 2000

Referee: Olegário Benquerença (POR)

Key players for Gala:
Umit Karan: With Hasan Sukur likely out due to a cracked rib, Turkish international Karan will be the most dangerous striker. Karan was a key part in Gala’s near comeback at Anfield in September, scoring the two second-half goals from headers. He has 7 goals in the Turkish league this year.
Rigobert Song: The former Leeds defender also happened to make 33 appearances for Liverpool from 1999 to 2000. He and Sabri Sarıoglu are the only players to have played every minute of Gala’s Champions League campaign.
Sasa Ilic: Much of Gala’s offense will go through Ilic, an attacking central midfielder with an eye for goal (8 goals in the league, Gala's top scorer), and a member of the Serbian national team.

My guess of a lineup:
Peltier, Paletta, Agger, Riise
Pennant, Guthrie, Alonso, Garcia
Fowler, Crouch

Having already qualified first in the group, there’s a lot less pressure going into this game, and it shows in the squad selection. It's nice to see so many youth players chosen: Stephen Darby, David Martin, Paul Anderson, and Miki Roque, in addition to Paletta, Peltier and Guthrie. In addition, Gerrard, Finnan, Reina and Hyypia haven’t made the trip.

I’m a bit surprised Gerrard was left out. Liverpool certainly could do with resting a few players, Stevie included, but with the team light in central midfield, and Alonso just returning from injury, I would have thought that Xabi would be the one staying home.

I hope to see as many youth players feature as possible. Playing in the Champions League, in Istanbul of all places, would be some way to make a debut, and I don’t believe that any of the youth players mentioned have gotten a run out in Europe. We’ve seen Paletta, Peltier, and Guthrie in the Carling Cup and league, but I hope that Paul Anderson features as well. There’s been a lot of hype around him in the reserves, and he scored a lovely goal in pre-season, but from what I’ve read, he hasn’t played as well this year as last.

All four strikers are in the team. I imagine Fowler will captain the squad, as Carragher will probably be on the bench, but who will partner him seems less certain. My guess, and it’s no more than that, is it will be Crouch, simply because he didn’t play on Saturday, but I haven’t seen any news on the back problem that ruled him out against Wigan.

Everyone comes home without injuries (knocking on wood furiously), and the youth players play (and don’t look out of depth), and this game has to be considered a success. It’s a credit to the team, and the hard work over the past 5 games in Europe that they’re in this position.

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