Friday, March 18, 2011
Braga bore Liverpool to the end
A massive upset was on the cards at Anfield, as little Portuguese club Braga held onto a 1 nil lead from the opening tie to keep Liverpool goal less in the second tie as well and knock them out of the Europa league. It was a match with many half chances for both squads, but they were both far too predictable to have any influence on the game. On one hand Braga sat back and were only interested in taking on Liverpool mainly on the break. Liverpool played the traditional English game, long balls to the target man up front. Whilst it was great to see Andy Carroll back from injury in his first start for Liverpool, he really didn't get any quality service from the midfield which was very disappointing for the Reds. They thoroughly missed midfield general, captain and heart of Liverpool Steven Gerrard. They also missed their other summer signing Luis Suarez, who is cup-tied because he played for Ajax who play in the same competition. Liverpool really missed these two and it was showing on the park, with lots of long aimless balls coming from the back looking for Carroll, and when he did get to them there was hardly any one to lay it off to. I found the game very disappointing, as Liverpool really didn't look to mix up their play with some shorter passes to unlock the Braga defence. They really needed to use a combination of the long ball and short ball to really try and break down a packed Braga defence. We also got the chance to see one Joe Cole making a rare appearance. You could tell he had hardly played this season, as he would show some glimpses of his brilliance before losing possession. It's fair to say he has had a wretched season full of injury, which is a shame for Liverpool because he looked a strong addition to their side pre-season. Andy Carroll as well looked a tad rusty still and will need another couple of games under his belt before we see him return to his goal scoring form which took him to his first English team cap last year. Liverpool must now focus on their crucial match against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, where mind you Carroll gave the Sunderland defence a nightmare in the derby in December before he joined Liverpool in the next month. Braga progress to the last eight with a steely performance that will put them down as dark horses for the competition. Yet again Liverpool have another season without silverware. Dalglish has certainly turned the club around, but it will take more than the King himself to make this club a force again. He must rally his chargers home in the Premier League if they want to be playing Europe next season, with a depleted squad it looks a grim task, but if you were going to trust any one to do it, it would have to be King Kenny.