02 April 2007

Liverpool v PSV 04.03.2007

2:45pm. Available in the US on espn2.

PSV is currently 1st in the Eredivisie, 3 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 5; Garcia 3; Bellamy, Fowler, Gerrard 2; Gonzalez, Riise 1
PSV: Alex, Da Costa, Kone 2; Kromkamp, Mendez, Simons, Vayrynen 1

European History:
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: Bertrand Layec (FRA)

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. Due to Arouna Kone’s injury, the speedy Farfan will most likely be paired with Patrick Kluivert, who spent a season on warming Newcastle’s bench before smartly getting out of the Northeast.
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 (recently turned 36), still makes PSV tick.
Alex:: Overcoming the big Brazilian centerback’s absence will be key for PSV. PSV has stuttered domestically without him, losing 5-1 to Ajax last week to reopen the title race, and drawing 1-1 against NAC Saturday. In addition to his loss, it looks as if PSV will be without Afellay and Kone.

My guess of a lineup:
Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio
Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso, Riise
Crouch, Bellamy

I think it’d be safe to assume many of the players rested for the Arsenal match would feature here. At the least, I certainly expect returns for Finnan, Riise, and Bellamy.

Nine times out of ten, I’d guess the frontline would be Bellamy and Kuyt, but Peter Crouch can’t be dropped after a hat trick against Arsenal, can he? Kuyt was rested, only came on as a sub against Arsenal, and certainly knows Dutch football, but if we’re assuming Crouch is untouchable (and I am), it seems Bellamy’s pace, especially in Alex’s absence, is more essential.

Sissoko is suspended for this leg, but I don’t know if I’d include him anyway, especially given the way Mascherano played last game. I want to see more of the Alonso/Mascherano pairing; I think they complement each other very well. Gerrard’s put back out on the right, despite him playing through the center on Saturday, and Pennant's overall good play. Not only do I expect Jermaine rested after 90 minutes against Arsenal, but Gerrard should be able to cut in and run at PSV’s defense as much as he likes. Gerrard on the right also seems a more frequent occurrence in Europe this season. Also, I firmly expect Liverpool to go back to the standard 4-4-2 formation.

Liverpool got little joy against PSV in Eindhoven in the group stages. It’s tempting to think they should make more headway given PSV’s drop in form and the injuries they’ve suffered, but I’m sure Benitez has reiterated that there are no givens in European football, especially at this stage. Liverpool will need to continue the attacking threat displayed against the Arse to put themselves in the right position for the return leg at Anfield next week.

The necessary morale boost, of course coupled with an outstanding win, came on Saturday. Now it’s time to make good use of it, and end the season on as high a note as possible.

1 comment :

Ace Cowboy said...

Skipper Steve, the Norweigan Princess and the Gangly Handful -- does it get better than today's performance? Top form, top form.

I'm not walking home from work alone. Never.