Thursday, February 23, 2006

Champions League Round of 16: February 21

Wow, my predictions suck so far. One for eight. I guess I won't be taking over for Lawro any time soon.

Benfica 1 - 0 Liverpool
Three questions:

  1. Why did Stevie G. start the game on the bench? If he's well enough to come on as a sub, he's well enough to play. And Liverpool desperately needed him out there. Benfica did a good job of hassling their midfield, not giving them a lot of space to play, but I think Gerrard would have been able to force his way through and create some more chances. Plus, you know, he's actually capable of putting the ball in the back of the net, which is more than you can say of the strikers at the moment.

  2. What is wrong with Liverpool's defencing on set plays? Look back at their results over the past month or so (United, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Chelsea) and they're giving up way too many goals from corners and free kicks. I'm not going to get into zonal versus man-to-man marking, because I think it comes down to execution more than what system you use, but clearly something isn't working.

  3. Do they need to go back to 4-5-1? Yes, normally I hate it, but I think it could work for Liverpool. Their midfield is much stronger than their forwards at the moment, so why not play to that strength? Stick Kewell and Garcia out on the wings (or even Cisse, if you like), move Steven back into the middle where he belongs, with Xabi and Hamann or Sissoko there as well so that he's free to push up and support whoever you play as a striker -- I'd say Crouch, because he's been the least awful recently. (Of course, I came up with this theory before I heard how serious Sissoko's injury is, but my point still stands.)

Real Madrid 0 - 1 Arsenal
I missed the first half because TSN, in its infinite wisdom, decided to postpone the game in favour of Olympic hockey at the last minute. Thanks, guys, really. This meant that I tuned in just after Thierry Henry's game-winning strike. I suppose I could download a replay from somewhere, but I'm lazy so I'll just take everyone's word for it that it was a fantastic goal. From what I did see, Arsenal played really well -- like the second coming of the Invincible team from a couple seasons ago that I loved to hate. Yay? Real Madrid, on the other hand, looked like they hadn't even bothered to show up. Aston Villa may be looking good to Becks right now...

Bayern Munich 1 - 1 AC Milan
Watching a game with Italian commentary is just weird. Although I kind of prefer it to the idiots who did the Liverpool match (a little hint: Pepe's last name is not pronounced "Reinya"). I stand by my prediction for a Bayern Munich win, because they definitely looked like the better team here. Milan had a few breaks forward where they looked dangerous, but Bayern controlled the game all over the pitch. Gorgeous goal from Michael Ballack, too -- I really wish that United had managed to buy him.

PSV 0 - 1 Lyon
The only game from Tuesday that wasn't shown here. Apparently nobody in Canada is expected to care about the French or Dutch teams. Which is...just about right, actually.

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