Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Marseille v Liverpool, CL '08-'09, Sep 16

Goals! Set yourself goals and achieve them. That's how you progress, that's what makes you successful, that's what is most important. Heard it often from teachers, bosses, corporate trainers and anyone who cares to impart the wisdom of life. Wish things were different...wish football was just a bit different.

It was a Steven Gerrard wonder strike that gave Liverpool the equalizer almost immediately after the French club had taken the lead. And not too much later a Steven Gerrard penalty that put Liverpool ahead for what would be enough for a 2-1 win.

Apart from that from Liverpool we had some fine runs and dangerous play from Ryan Babel and some great work by Pepe Reina. But it was Marseille who played most of the football.

What was amazing about Marseille's effort was their refusal to play the long ball even when they had pushed men forward and were getting desparate. They always chose to play it through the field, were not afraid of taking on Liverpool defenders and showed some amazing ball control, passing and dribbling abilities. But they did not score. Lot of method but no Goal.

And when it was all over you felt for them because against one of the better teams in Europe they chose to play. Yes it was at home and the onus was on them once they fell behind, but many a richer team (Liverpool included I dare say) would not necessarily have approached the problem similarly.

Kone, Niang, Taiwo and others may have ended up on the losing side but there were moments worth remembering. In the end, it was good defending, missed chances and great goalkeeping which won it for Liverpool. There was a moment where a lovely pass was played almost to the byline just beating the Liverpool defender (not sure who...French commentary...really small TV screen...seen from a distance) and Kone back heeled it to set up a super shot on goal which the Marseille player (Karim Ziani i think) shot over. Then there was another moment when 3 Pool players converged on a Marseille attacker on the edge of the box and a twist and a turn later all three were beaten only to be followed by a tame effort on goal.
It went on till the very end, with a glanced header just about being clasped by Reina before it would have found an opponent's boot and be guided home. Of course, Liverpool could have scored twice more with both chances falling to saved brilliantly and one just missing. But for all of the second half Liverpool lobbed the ball into the opponent third when they had the chance.

Yes they did enough, yes it was efficient in a hostile place and yes Gerrard's super strike deserved what it got them. But this is not about denying Liverpool. This is about crediting Marseille. But that doesn't help them. Zero points is what they get and there are no consolation prizes. Missed your goals - failed. Simple. After all they all said so....

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