20 July 2008

Liverpool 1-1 Wisla Krakow

Darby Carragher Agger Dossena
Benayoun Lucas Plessis Leto
Babel Voronin

Aurelio for Leto 46’
Hyypia for Carragher 46’
Skrtel for Agger 46’
Spearing for Plessis 46’
Mascherano for Leiva 46’
Pennant for Babel 46’
Insua for Dossena 63’
Pacheco for Benayoun 63’
Kuyt for Voronin 71’
Hobbs for Darby 71’
Martin for Cavalieri 71’

Voronin 6’
Jirsak 12’

In Fribourg, Wisla provided the sternest test Liverpool’s faced so far this preseason.

Aside from a goal within six minutes, when Voronin stabbed in his own rebound after a smart pass from Benayoun following good buildup by Lucas and Babel, Wisla was arguably the better side, especially in the first half. They replied in the 12th minute, had a goal wrongly ruled out in the 30th (Benayoun played Boguski onside), struck the foot of the post with a free kick that had Cavalieri beaten, and earned something like 10 corners (probably a slight exaggeration) in the first half.

Wisla was clearly fitter, with the start of the Polish season a week away, and from what I understand, pretty much played their first-choice XI.

Thankfully, Liverpool was better after the break. Wisla took the foot off the gas a little, but Liverpool also did a much better job winning (and retaining, to a lesser extent) possession. I’d hazard a guess that had something to do with Mascherano coming on, although Spearing also did well.

But other than a couple of Kuyt opportunities that forced saves and an almost-own goal in the 75th minute that unluckily crashed into the side netting, Liverpool didn’t really look like getting a winner. Neither did Wisla Krakow.

That’s two goals in two games for Voronin, which has been nice to see. It’s worth remembering he had a good July and August last year though, raising expectations before an injury threw off his campaign. And he should have scored a second in the 22nd when a mistake put him one-on-one with the keeper, only for his tame shot to be parried away.

I was a bit surprised to see Carragher and Agger start for the third game in a row. Maybe it’s just because both had the summer off and are available, while Agger needs to get back to fitness, but I’ve also a hunch Rafa considers it his first-choice pairing when Liverpool plays four at the back.

Dossena made his debut, and was solid if unspectacular in 63 minutes. He did make one smart run forward, only to be marginally offside (if that) when put one-on-one with the keeper. I do fear both Degen and Dossena’s propensity for getting forward will give me a heart attack during the early part of the season, as they adjust to the way Liverpool play, but we wanted (and needed) Liverpool to acquire more attacking fullbacks. Chances are, Aurelio and Arbeloa will still be first choice on the flanks for the near future.

Insua also had some excellent attacking runs after coming on for Dossena, including a mazy one that ended with a shot from distance too close to the keeper in the 67th.

And once again, Pacheco looked decent after he came on: he displayed some excellent ball control, made a nice run to earn a free kick just outside the box, and unselfishly set up Kuyt’s chance in the 87th.

Finally, as an aside, Leto sure complains about not getting free kicks an awful lot. I hate that.

I can’t be upset with a draw, nor the fact Wisla was the better side throughout the first 45. I still remember a 0-5 loss to Mainz in 06/07, among others, in past pre-seasons. No one was injured, players received more match practice, and it was a good mix of first-teamers, youngsters, and new signings. Plus, it was a tougher match than against either Tranmere or Lucerne. That’s all I ever ask from pre-season friendlies.


Abhiram said...

I don't get to see any of the friendlies. How was the tempo of the match? Do you see any of our newcomers or youngsters performing well and winning us a match against the likes of Man U, Chelsea or Arsenal home or away?
Hope we can find atleast to youngsters or new signings who can win us big matches big( 3-0, 4-0).

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nate said...

The tempo was a bit better than against either Tranmere or Lucerne. It mainly had to do with the fact that Wisla was fitter, but Liverpool's getting closer to full fitness with each friendly as well.

There's a big gap between thinking if the young players are ready to see time with the first team this season versus whether or not they can make an impact against the rest of the 'big 4.'

I think the goal for players like Insua, Pacheco, Lucas, Plessis, etc, is to play as well as Plessis did against Arsenal last year. I think all four of those players are going to have big futures at Liverpool, but asking them to be game-changers this season is probably asking too much.

Abhiram said...

Well with what i saw of Plessis, Lucas, Babel and Insua, i would really hope one of them would go on to become an icon. Repeating the impact which El Nino had in his first season,by any of these guys might be next to impossible but i am hoping for the best :).