Liverpool lead 2-0 on aggregate.
Kickoff is 2:45pm ET. Once again, it's not on live in the US. Hopefully this'll be the last time that's the case for the Europa League, at least for those of us with DirecTV. I'm getting really sick of watching internet streams.
Guess at a line-up:
Johnson Carragher Skrtel Wilson
Cole Lucas Gerrard Jovanovic
In lieu of refreshing Twitter and multiple Liverpool forums hoping for concrete news on the possible departure of our current custodians, what say we worry about the football for a little while?
Despite a two-goal advantage, it appears Liverpool will deploy a stronger line-up in this leg, with Hodgson stating that Cole, Gerrard, Carragher, Johnson, and Jovanovic are in line to start. Good. It's also promising to see Roy single out Pacheco in the above link, although a substitute appearance seems more likely having just returned from the u19 tournament.
According to UEFA, this is who's available. Aurelio, Insua, and the recently-arrived World Cup participants (Reina, Torres, Kuyt and Babel, or Masch for that matter) aren't on the list. And if Insua and Aurelio aren't available, I'm curious to see who will start at left back with the news that Agger picked up a knock in training. I've guessed Wilson, which is based solely on hope, but Darby or Kelly (who played left-back during his loan at Huddersfield) are also possibilities – Darby's probably the safer bet.
There's obviously the desire to see young players get another chance (Amoo, Ince, Ayala, and Robinson played in last night's reserve friendly against Tranmere, so it's highly doubtful they'll feature tomorrow), but I can't help focusing on the "first team" considering how short a preseason the majority of them have had, especially with a new manager. This match is much-needed preparation before the league campaign starts in a week and a half.
I really want to see what a central midfield of Lucas and Gerrard can do against lesser opposition under Hodgson. I'd like to see both Cole and Aquilani, as well as Gerrard, on the pitch at the same time. On paper, it seems the above formation could be written as 4-4-1-1, 4-2-3-1, or 4-1-4-1. I've got Cole ostensibly on the right because Jovanovic seemingly needs to be on the left, while Cole can play anywhere in attack. Maxi's on the above list, but we haven't seen him at all during preseason.
Rabotnicki demonstrated little threat on their own pitch, which suggests that a match at Anfield should be mere formality. It's tough to see this as much more than another friendly, but that anything can happen goes without saying. The Macedonians may have been limited to a smattering of shots from distance in the last leg, but if one of those goes in tomorrow, nerves would undoubtedly set in amongst both players and fans. Finish this tie off early, and we can start thinking about the next round, as well as Arsenal ten days later.