12 August 2008

Liverpool at Standard de Liege 08.13.08

3pm Eastern Time. As far as I can tell, it’s not on TV in the States. Last year, the 3rd round of CL qualifying was on GolTV, but they’re showing the Bayern Munich friendly tomorrow.

Referee: Tom Henning Ovrebo (NOR)

As YNWA.tv writes, this is weird, as Overbo was in charge of the friendly at Vålerenga last week.

Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Agger Dossena
Alonso Plessis
Kuyt Keane Benayoun

While Gerrard is with the team, and wouldn’t be ruled out of contention until late today or tomorrow, I’d be very surprised if he started. It’s way too early in the season to be risking Stevie, even if it is just a thigh strain.

Aside from a debate over Plessis versus Spearing, I expect to see the same team that started against Lazio on Friday.

With Gerrard injured and Lucas, Mascherano and Babel at the Olympics, Liverpool is short in central midfield. In the few preseason games I saw, Spearing was more impressive, but I think Plessis is still more likely to start given that he’s got more first-team experience.

And even considering the never-ending Gareth Barry farce, I’ve got no problem with cup-tying Alonso. But if Gerrard’s fit, Alonso may well be kept out for that reason, just in case. Sigh.

The only other twist I can think of would be Darby for Arbeloa, with the young right-back another who stood out in preseason, but that’s probably a bridge too far. Skrtel, Degen and Aurelio are the only players definitely ruled out.

I’m still not sure if this line-up is a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1, especially if Gerrard’s not in the picture. But I guess that’s the beauty of it. In theory, the front four, even the front six at times, should be able to attack from any position. Preseason sets no precedent either, as Liverpool played 4-4-2 in every preseason match last season as far as I can remember.

Standard beat Anderlecht 3-1 in the Belgian Supercup over the weekend. They won their league last year with only one loss. Serbian striker Milan Jovanovic was the league's player of the year last season, while Marouane Fellaini and Steven Defour are both highly-rated Belgian youngsters. Defour is Standard’s captain even though he’s only 20, while the team flew Fellaini back from the Olympics to be available for this match. Zaire striker Dieumerci Mbokani was even compared to Didier Drogba in the Liverpool Echo a few days ago. And readers on this side of the pond will recognize Oguchi Onyewu, who went back to Liege after an unsuccessful stint with the Geordies in 2007.

It goes without saying that an away goal is crucial. Yes, Liverpool’s proven they can beat anyone at Anfield if it comes to that, but anything can happen in the Champions League, especially when it’s the first competitive game of the season. Winning tomorrow would not only make qualification for the money-spinning group stage that much more likely, but would also set the team up well for the first Premiership match at Sunderland on Saturday.


Mike Georger said...

would much prefer darby over arbeloa, arbeloa is leaps and bounds the weakspot of the lineup at this point. hell if consider playing carra out right and sami in the middle, then bring in darby at 65 for sami and push carra back in to the middle.

this team is very dangerous, 1-1 would be great

Christopher said...

It is a shame the game isn't on tv. Was looking forward to a long lunch.

Mike Georger said...

BOY it would be nice to have one true winger on this team. not that rafa has complained about the lack of wingers three straight years and signed ..... jermaine penannt and thats it.

and man these green kits are hideous

Shawn said...

Totally lucky to get 0-0. A horrid, horrid effort from the boys. No one looked up for it.

Mike Georger said...

gotta give credit to pepe though

no real scoring chances created (already people bitching about keane, fucking idiots) aside from the ball from dossena but thats not the strikers' fault, the midfield was just abysmal.

i know it was just one game, and an away europe game at that, but if they fucking go and draw 0-0 saturday the shit is going to hit the fan.

of course the excuse will be they were missing players due to the olympics and injury, but arsenal werent a full squad either and they were able to clinch their tie in the first leg.