17 March 2011

Liverpool 0-0 Braga

Braga win 1-0 on aggregate

Johnson Carragher Skrtel Wilson
Cole Meireles Lucas Maxi
Kuyt Carroll

Hoofing in the direction of Carroll is slightly prettier than the previous aimless hoofing, but it's no more successful.

Without true wingers, Liverpool's attack broke down when Cole broke down. He lasted a little more than 20 minutes. For the first half of the first half, the home side were actually excellent. The 4-2-2-2 formation showed attacking intent, Johnson and Wilson attempted to get forward, and Carroll won header after header. Braga posed a couple of early threats from set plays, but otherwise couldn't trouble Liverpool's back line.

Unsurprisingly, Carroll was the centerpiece. His flick-on created the first opening, in the 8th minute, with Cole's point blank shot saved. Carroll then won the subsequent corner, heading wide of the near post. Four minutes later, clever play from Maxi nearly released the new number 29, only to be arguably ruled offside (not for the last time). And in the 22nd, the referee could have leveled the tie's penalty count when Carroll was pushed in the back on a corner, but – like his counterpart last week – ignored protests and, to delightfully add insult to injury, called a foul on the striker. There were two softer shouts in the 34th minute when Braga defenders resorted to pushing Carroll and Lucas to prevent chances, but – again like last week – Liverpool's problems were more of their own making than the officials'.

After 25 minutes, Braga began nullifying Liverpool by keeping possession. Increasingly reliant on hoofs toward a giant striker and out-numbered in midfield was a deadly combination. To compound matters, Alan had the beating of Wilson time and time again, but Carragher and Skrtel kept Reina fairly comfortable.

Matters didn't change much after the interval, especially since Braga were happy to retreat step by step, packing men into its own half. Getting absolutely nothing from the flanks, play was wretchedly bogged down in midfield. Liverpool had no response other than more and more punts to the forwards. Lucas and Meireles probably have stiff necks from watching the ball sail overhead all day.

The substitutions, made with 15 minutes to play, only exacerbated the trend. Spearing replaced Maxi, Ngog replaced Cole, and Liverpool kept the same formation. Kuyt went left, Meireles went right, and the ball went in the direction of Ngog or Carroll, both surrounded by approximately three defenders at all times.

With complete possession in the last ten minutes, the home side finally created three more chances. The first was a Carroll header from Meireles' corner, on target, blocked by Kuyt's head. The second, moments later, came when Carragher hoofed the ball back into Skrtel, whose barely-believable chest then volley was smartly parried by Artur. The third, deep in injury time, saw Ngog unable to make contact with Meireles' perfectly-lofted free kick. You've probably noticed all three of those started from set plays.

And thus, any hope of Europe next season or a trophy in this ends not with a bang but a whimper. Liverpool have few complaints about either. The squad is supermodel thin and suffering from injuries, but Liverpool could have played until tomorrow without scoring. The club may have been unbeaten in the competition until the last leg, but through ten Europa League games (not counting qualifiers), they only won three. Five of the six draws ended 0-0.

Just as the league has often revealed Liverpool's problems in defense, the Europa League laid bare the weaknesses in attack. Suarez couldn't have been more missed against both Braga and Sparta Prague. Carroll looks a handful, but also ended up hindering Liverpool tactically, as was feared. This team has no width and no guile. Suarez remedies just one of those faults, and he's just one player.

Liverpool have a lot of work to do this summer. And now it has to be done without the allure of European football.


Anonymous said...

There's still a chance at making the europa league again next year with a good finish in the league though.

nate said...

Catching Chelsea – nine points ahead with a game in hand and +24 goal difference – is improbable at best, so let's focus on Tottenham. Liverpool have to make up six points and a -4 goal difference in nine games, while Spurs also have a game in hand. Six of Spurs' 10 games are at home. Six of Spurs' 10 games are against bottom-half sides, including two against bottom-three teams. In Liverpool's favor is that Spurs are still in the Champions League and have to travel to City, Chelsea, and Anfield. Meanwhile, five of Liverpool's nine games are away, and five are against top-half sides. It's possible that Spurs will lose at least three more games than Liverpool (or two losses and two draws, etc) over the next two months, dropping at least 4 extra goals in the process. But it's not likely. If Liverpool can keep pace until the penultimate week, Spurs will be incredibly nervy at Anfield. But Liverpool would have to be almost perfect until then.

None of this is to discount the impressive feat of at least being in this conversation after that insanely diabolical first half of the season.

Anonymous said...

If we keeping playing the same set players and same outcome for the pass few games. The only game we played well was against "Man U" where suarez was brilliat, Gerrard at his best, Lucas immense in the middle, kuyt in the right place at the right time.

They may argue that suarez/gerrard didnt play but if other players are not giving a chance to play, how we gonna move forward? Liverpool only look dangerous when Ngog play on top with Carroll.

Why we need to wait for the last 15min to make the chance(Same during the "Hogson Regime")? If we knew that our creative players are not working, why dont give Pacheco, Suso, Sterling or Silva to show what they can do as 2nd half subs?

Back in 2005, When we need 3 goals against Olmpicaos..Rafa throw in "Sinama" at the start of the 2nd half then Mellor(all not proven) on 60++ minute and the risk was fruitful.

What on the bench last nite, we should actually throw..

1.Flangan(Wilson)on the RB move johnson to LB.
2. Pacheco(Maxi)on LW, Move Kuyt to RW.
3.Ngog(Cole)on CF

With this changes could b make @ 55min/60min/65min not 75min..To have more attacking sense rather then sticking to the same player every game & waiting things to happen.

Football is all about risk if we want to win games. To Play a "Caution" games may not b fruitful as always as we can see for the pass few games. Which youngster come on & dont make mistake? It's all about learning and the sooner they learn, the better they become. If we are gonna invest in 16s/17s year old and they r not given a chance to play in their 19s/20s/21s..when they're chance will come?

Those given a chance to play was [Kelly(RB)/Wilson(LB)/Spearing(CM)/Jonjo(CM)]Beside Kelly, there are no attacking players given a chance to prove themselves even we r lack of creative. If this trend keep on going..Pacheco will b the 1st 1 leaving...

A Worried Sign Ahead..

Red From Malaysia
Chris Lam

Anonymous said...

god, we're shit. hodgson you stupid, stupid cunt.

chase said...

@ Anonymous:
actually the stupid, stupid cunts are arsenal.

Anonymous said...

let's face it, we have to buy less well known players who will turn into great players, so Suarez and Carroll fit the bill because they have more run way. I see Damien Commolli (spelling) as a positive, also King Kenny has a fine eye for a player. What worries me is when people like Vidic, Malouda etc didn't come to us, it will take a sales job and MONEY to convince players that the future is bright at Pool.

Anonymous said...

Have the seedings for the champions league and the europa league changed?
I thought it was top 4 for champions league and next 3 for europa?

Anonymous said...

Top 4 - champs league, 5th Europa league, winners of League Cup - Birmingham Europa league, 1 spot reserved for FA Cup Winner or Runners Up which in this case will be claimed by Bolton or Stoke (or whoever is in other semi - I think) as Man U and Man City will claim Champ league spot (I
nstead of Europa FA Cup).