Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Real Betis 1-2 Liverpool

Well the DVD night was cancelled, so I did get to see the match after all, and what a great match it was. Very open, chances at both ends, and we (Liverpool) ran out 2-1 winners... If you didn't see it, I'll refer you to the obviously unbiased report here.

In short, Liverpool - with a surprising team including Josemi, Traore and Pongolle, but no Gerrard - were straight out the blocks: Pongolle scoring after just 87 seconds, and Garcia adding another 14 minutes later. Betis looked rather disorganised and, though they made some good chances, could've conceded more. In a reverse of that final in Istanbul, the second half turned against Liverpool, with Betis' attacking substitutions making them much more dangerous, and Liverpool were really hanging on at times.

I thought Garcia justified himself with his goal - the CL is obviously his favoured arena. I wasn't too surprised to see Josemi playing in Spain, as he's obviously not really adapted to the English game, but he still looked a bit of a liability. Nor was I surprised Traore was favoured at left back against Joaquin. Rafa obviously sees him as better than Warnock or Riise defensively, and with the pace and tackling to handle tricky wingers - hence he played against Chelsea and Milan in the latter stages last year, and is likely to line up against Man Utd's Ronaldo at the weekend.

The man who did most to justify himself was Pongolle. Not only did he score a great (if slightly flukey) goal, but he showed willingness to play where needed - down the right- run down balls and track back and tackle when needed. I still think Cisse's our biggest goal threat, but too often his chances are wasted, and if the ball doesn't run for him he's too quick to get frustrated and throw his hands up instead of trying to win it back. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Cisse fan and glad he stayed, but I see where he has to work on his game if he's to become a regular first choice under Rafa.


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