By Jake Appleman and Oliver Price
The FA Cup and Champions League, a festival of football? Well not exactly as the Manchester United- Chelsea game fizzled out without so much as a whimper and the European Champions League Final between Liverpool and Milan was hardly an advert to the American side of the pond to sit up and pay attention to the real football.
Livened up a bit in extra time with Ryan Giggs ‘goal’ that never was and the Drogba winner was class- but overall a seriously disappointing affair- New Wembley, the most expensive stadium ever built (well over a billion dollars) looked nice though (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wembley_Stadium)
Champions League Final
The stadium that held the Olympics got the gig this year and seemingly did a horrible job as thousands of Liverpool faithful found themselves outside at kick off despite their having tickets. It got worse when the fans with the real tickets were turned away and then beaten up by heavy handed police because the ticket collectors had let thousands of fans with fake tickets instead…whoops. This obviously caused trouble and some scuffling. Way to go on blowing any chance of a future final Greece.
Anyway on to the game. Liverpool were the better team in the first half, which isn’t saying all that much as Milan looked useless, a far cry from the dominant power that wiped the floor with Manchester United in the semis. Liverpool’s game seemed to be based around nullifying every threat. However in doing this they seemed to forget they were supposed to create chances themselves. Finally with basically their only opportunity of the half Andrea Pirlo’s freekick smacked weasel faced goal poacher (the kind of guy who got his ass whipped in school for stealing goals) Flippo Inzaghi in the face, deflecting the ball into the net. 1-0 Milan.
No Changes at the half and more of the same as the two teams seemed happy to play to a stalemate. Problem was that the ‘Pool were already a goal behind and the 60th-odd minute substitution of Harry Kewell didn’t seem to be the sort of move that would make any difference. Finally Crouch got on for Mascherano. Sadly this left Kaka with the room he had been lacking so much of the game and he punished Liverpool sending Inzaghi through for his second. Goodnight Liverpool. Cue tears. Fade to black.
Liverpool’s problem? No magic. Liverpool don’t have the sort of player that can make a difference, Gerrard is the closest but really did he do much? Not really if we are being honest. He is great, but not a flair player, the sort that Liverpool now need to really have a chance at winning the competitions year in and year out- the base is absolutely there. Now the trick for Benitez will be buying two, maybe three players that will be able to carve something from nothing, guys like Kaka and Pirlo. Who? Dani Alves would be one, although I don’t know if Benitez would be able to use him properly without changing the system, maybe playing him as a marauding right winger may be the answer? David Villa is another, although whether the ‘Pool’s new owners will sanction the sort of big money move that would be needed to pull this off would remain to be seen. Carlos Tevez could be another option playing behind big Dirk. I suppose we will see, but make no mistake Benitez is aware of this and knows what has to be done. It will be interesting to watch and see what happens.
With the English league done and international friendlies occupying the slate this past week, there hasn’t been much on the docket with La Liga, but that’s about to change. Real Madrid, Barca and Sevilla are battling it out for the crown with only three weeks remaining. Amazingly, improbably, Real has somehow managed to position themselves in first despite their poor form at home for most of the season and their startling inconsistency. No matter, Becks is back and doing damage before he makes that leap across the pond and Horseface Van Nistelrooy is bagging goals at a torrid pace. Barca have the easiest fixtures though, so don’t count them out even if their season has seemed somewhat doomed since the Eto’o injury. Valencia are comfortably in fourth, leaving Zaragoza with the top Uefa Cup spot and my beloved Atletico to try and secure the final position.
Speaking of the Uefa Cup, Sevilla won that a few weeks ago. ABRE LA PUERTA! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_VW0aHCzng&mode=related&search= (game) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaAdnLOuoAY&mode=related&search= (penalties)