28 September 2009

Liverpool at Fiorentina 09.29.09

2:45pm, live in the US on Setanta.

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 6-1 Hull (h); 1-0 Leeds (a); 3-2 West Ham (a)
Fiorentina: 1-0 Livorno (a); 2-0 Sampdoria (h); 1-3 Roma (a)

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)

Guess at a squad:
Johnson Skrtel Carragher Insua
Lucas Gerrard
Benayoun Kuyt Riera

Sky Sports certainly threw a spanner in the works this morning, announcing that neither Benayoun nor Mascherano traveled to Italy because of an injury and illness respectively. A couple of hours later, Benitez corrected the Murdoch outfit’s typical piss-poor “journalism.” Mascherano is out because of a tight hamstring, but Benayoun’s in the squad. Phew. That eases a few of the concerns.

After being relegated to the bench on Saturday, I thought Mascherano was a certain starter both here and on Saturday. Let’s just hope the injury heals quickly, because his ability to break up opposition attacks will be crucial against Chelsea. Unless Benitez decides to truly blood Spearing – and this match would be a baptism by fire – Gerrard will remain in central midfield paired with Lucas. I doubt we’ll see Aurelio in midfield for the second time in a week; for all his gifts, he’s too one-footed for this role against most sides.

Had Benayoun not been available, Benitez would have had to choose between Babel and Voronin, and the change in tactics each would entail. As Benayoun seems likely to play, it should be the same line-up as against Burnley, Debrecen, and Hull. Chances are there’ll be a slightly different result given the class of opposition. Hopefully not too different.

As Aurelio seems likely to come back in against Chelsea, he may get a start here so Stamford Bridge isn’t his first start of the season at left back. But I still think it’s going to take a few good performances to dislodge Insua from that role.

Having seen four of Fiorentina’s games so far this season (both legs against Sporting Lisbon, Roma, and Livorno), I’m better qualified to opine on the opponents than usual in CL competition. Fourth in Serie A, they’ve had a relatively strong start to the season, thumping league-leading Sampdoria at home five days ago. Frey is a talented keeper, and did very well against Livorno, but defensive frailties led to all three of Roma’s goals in that match, while the whole team was unconvincing against Sporting (winning on away goals).

19-year-old Stevan Jovetic has scored their key goals, and will star with Gilardino suspended and former Chelsea man Mutu a more peripheral figure since that enormously unfair CAS verdict against him. Jovetic has the makings of a top talent, and the defense will obviously need to cease the silly mistakes to keep him under wraps. Vargas at left back will also pose a threat, and I think we’ll again see Glen Johnson in a more defensive role regardless of who starts on the right wing. Plus, Vargas isn’t too shabby at set plays (gulp).

No matter the lure of Europe, Chelsea on Sunday is a more tantalizing proposition. But we’ve seen Liverpool’s success in Europe push them on in the league before. Another win here – which would be the seventh in a row – is exactly what the team needs to keep momentum going.


epiblast said...

I read the rubbish articles surrounding the lack of Benayoun and Mascherano in the squad.
Glad to hear the Israeli will feature as he's been tops for us so far this season. I assume we'll see practically the same squad that started against Hull at the weekend.
Chelsea on Sunday should be fantastic and I've become a little more optimistic about our chances since Cech will surely be suspended.

extrafatttliver said...

Ashley Cole got injured too, any news that he will or will not play? Johnson will probably be fired up for Chelsea. Bag that win and we will be 2nd.

Mike Georger said...

Pissed I'm going to miss this. Watched the second leg of their qualifier, and while Jovetic is a wonderkid (lights it up for my Tranmere side in FM), they looked to have some serious issues defending and controlling the midfield.

I wouldn't be shocked with a loss really, and it wouldn't be the end of the world, but I'm thinking maybe a 2-2 draw.

Anonymous said...

Incredible.Just amazing understanding of the game/Rafa.Found this blog late but happy to have found one this good!!

And we should win this one otherwise with 2 games against Lyon coming up we might be under a lot of pressure for the last 2 fixtures.