Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Valeranga 1-4 Liverpool

Another four goals, although the same scorers this time as last. The starting line up, with the exception of Reina for Cavalieri in goal, is probably what I'd expect against Sunderland at the start of the season, barring injuries or the possibility of Gareth Barry finally arriving/Alonso possibly departing.

Speaking of injuries, the one negative of course was seeing Gerrard walking off after 28 minutes. Our pre-season has been hampered by niggling injuries to Gerrard (this looks like a recurrence of the groin injury that forced him to miss our training camp), Finnan, Degen and Skrtel. The positive is that Alonso looked in good form and willing to get forward, although perhaps that's only because he was allowed time on the ball and his influence did wane after Spearing replaced Gerrard.

In any case, it was Alonso being further forward that allowed him to receive a lay off from Keane around the D and score the opener from 25 yards. That was all that separated the teams at the break. Things soon changed after the restart though - Reina and Hyypia had just come on for Liverpool, which perhaps contributed to some slightly disorganized defending and a quick equalizer (47 minutes).

Thankfully, this seemed to galvanize a team whose dominance had waned since Gerrard's departure. Within a minute, Torres restored the elad - it took a slightly fortuitous deflection off a defender in the build up, but there was no faulting his clinical finish. On the hour, Benayound scored another with a mazy run around the edge of the box and a sweet left-footed chip into the far corner of the net.

This gave Rafa the cushion necessary to make more changes and bring on the kids: by the end of the game, Hyypia, Reina and Agger were the only players over 21, and the youngsters acquitted themselves well. Hopefully those that aren't on loan will get the chance to play in the league cup, and a few may even feature as squad players when we're hit by injuries (particularly with the seven subs coming in).

Ngog, who scored a second goal in three part-appearances (after only one in 18 for PSG last year), looks like - as Rafa predicted - he could be ready for the first team. Some of the others aren't quite ready yet, such as the much-hyped Pacheco (still only 17). Perhaps, with Gerrard now side-lined for a week or so and Mascherano and Lucas at the Olympics, Plessis or Spearing may get a chance to play a couple of games in the usually very competitive centre midfield. I wouldn't mind seeing more of Darby either, as I think he's one of four players vying for probably the most open spot in our team at the moment (right back).

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