Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Champs League semi

Quick recap of the Chelsea/Liverpool match--it ended 1-0, but Liverpool scored the goal. Papers in England are calling it "controversial," but it looked in to me, and that was in real time. Even if it hadn't been ruled a goal, Liverpool likely would have been awarded a penalty for Petr Cech's interference on the play. The goal came in the 4th minute, which enabled Liverpool to retreat into a defensive shell for the remainder of the game. They never really posed a serious threat to score until late in the game when Chelsea brought their defense forward in a vain attempt to score. Chelsea probably should have scored and advanced, but they squandered every opportunity. Overall, the quality of play didn't seem up to normal European standards, but that's to be expected when two domestic rivals clash (much like the Milan/Inter matches). I came away from the match knowing these things:

-Chelsea do not have a world-class striker. Whether they need one is debatable. Chelsea were without their normal sources of offense, wingers Damien Duff and Arjen Robben. The latter played about 30 minutes as a substitute, and while he threatened goal twice, he was clearly not fit. Still, it's tough to succeed in Europe without a guy up front who can give you goals by himself. I wouldn't be surprised if Chelsea made a run at Inter's Adriano.

-Chelsea will be very good for a very long time. Their foundation--Lampard, Terry, Cech, Robben, Duff, Cole, Gudjohnsen--will all be 27 or younger next season. And with a free-spending owner, expect all of them to stay at Stamford Bridge.

-Liverpool's Steven Gerrard will probably want not want to spurn his current team for Chelsea after this result.

-Based on their domestic performance, there's no way Liverpool should be this far in the tournament. Yet, they have excelled in the Champs League, advancing convincingly in every stage (if holding Juventus and Chelsea to a combined 1 goal over 4 matches isn't convincing I don't know what is). It appears likely they will face AC Milan in the final, where Liverpool will once again be underdogs. I don't see any reason why their form will change--Liverpool could very well bring their 5th Champions Cup back to the Merseyside. Don't want to get ahead of myself though. Injuries could very well determine who wins the cup.

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