21 October 2008

Liverpool at Atletico Madrid 10.22.08

2:45pm, live in the US on espn2

Group stage so far:
Liverpool: 3-1 PSV (h); 2-1 Marseille (a)
Atletico: 2-1 Marseille (h); 3-0 PSV (a)

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 3-2 Wigan (h); 3-2 City (a); 3-1 PSV (h)
Atletico: 1-2 Real Madrid (h); 1-6 Barca (a); 0-1 Sevilla (h)

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Gerrard 3; Kuyt 2; Keane 1
Atletico: Aguero 4; Forlan, Luis Garcia, Raul Garcia, Maniche, Maxi Rodriguez 1

Referee: Claus Bo Larsen (DEN)

Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Agger Aurelio
Mascherano Alonso
Kuyt Gerrard Riera

I realize we haven’t see the 4-2-3-1 lately, but injuries, Chelsea on Sunday, and the fact that this is an away match in Europe leads me to think we might tomorrow.

I find it hard to believe that Mascherano would miss a second consecutive match, as he was rested Saturday after returning late. But Alonso’s been excellent recently, even if I have a sneaking suspicion Rafa may rest him with an eye on Chelsea. And if that’s the case, we may see a 4-4-2 with Gerrard and Masch in the middle, although it’s worth noting that it was Masch and Lucas holding in the 4-2-3-1 away to Marseille. But I’m assuming Benitez will find a way to have Gerrard, Xabi, and Masch on the pitch tomorrow.

I honestly don’t know if Aurelio’s fit again or not (with the amount he’s injured, it’s hard to keep straight), and I don’t mean to keep harping on Dossena (I may be disappointed with some of his performances, but it’s early in his adaptation and it’s not as if he’s hiding on the pitch). I just think that Aurelio’s a better fit for the team at this point, and most importantly, has linked better with Riera, who I’m still thrilled about (I’ve re-watched his debut goal at least ten times).

Atletico hasn't had the best of spells recently, losing their last three games. It looks like both Ujfalusi and Maxi Rodriguez will be out injured, while Guillem Balague’s reporting that Aguero may be rested as well. In that blog post, Balague reports that he expects this line-up: Coupet GK; Seitaridis (RB) Antonio López (LB); Domínguez and Perea (CB); Camacho and Maniche (CM); Simao and Luis Garcia down the flanks; with Diego Forlán and Sinama Pongolle in attack. It would be nice to welcome both Pongolle and Little Luis back, so long as they don’t hurt Liverpool.

But league results don’t always translate to the Champions League, as the 04-05 team proved. Atletico, with or without Kun, will still be a very dangerous side. As Liverpool fans, we know both Garcia and Pongolle are capable of pulling a goal from nothing (Garcia in Europe especially), while it’s not as if players like Maniche, Simao, and Forlan can’t change a game in their own rights.

Thanks to two wins from two to start the Champions League campaign, this isn’t a must-win match. But the more points Liverpool pile up, the better chance there is that Benitez will be able to rest players in the final group games, like against Galatasaray two years ago. And, with injuries taking their toll and some key matches in the Premiership on the horizon, the squad needs to be as fit and fresh as possible.

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