Thursday, March 12, 2009

Liverpool Left Real 4 Dead

Liverpool (Eng) 4 (Torres 16; Gerrard 28 pen, 47; Dossena 89);
Real Madrd (Esp) 0

The stage was set when Liverpool apparently ‘robbed’ Real Madrid of their divine right to win games at the Santiago Bernabeu a week ago. Rallying cries were heard ringing in the press. Marca even had the audacity to print out the headlines ‘This Is Anfield, So What?’

But the pure arrogance makes it even sweeter for many as they saw how Liverpool totally dismantled and tore Real Madrid apart. There’s no greater football spectacle than to watch a team full of egoistic and puffed-up players fall with eggs on their faces.

For Fernando Torres, it matters to him more than just a usual Champions League game. ‘Special European Night’ aside for the Liverpool hitman, his history with the Los Blancos links to his former club, his pride, dignity and even his family are involved.

So, for him to score the opening goal was the perfect dose of ‘take that, you lot’. The goal was conjured from a typical route one ball played by Carragher and it gave Pepe and Cannavaro enough problems.

Despite protests of him using his arms on Portugese defender, Pepe, Liverpool’s beloved number 9 started off the rout and made sure that he saw it through. He ran his heart out despite being on painkillers and never will people forget him tracking back 30 yards to tackle Lassanna Diarra near the halfway line.

Liverpool played as if they were the one that are at the wrong end of the 1-0 deficit. They started off in 6th gear from the first minute and gave Real Madrid the ‘time of their lives’. They blitzed Iker Casillas’ goal with no mercy and the goalkeeper should be the only player in white that could’ve left Anfield with head held up high.

If not for the Spanish stopper, it could’ve been much worse.

But he was helpless to stop the marauding Reds, who showed passion, hunger and class throughout. Something rare from a team that just came off a horrific 2-0 defeat in the hands of… Middlesbrough…

For that, Rafa Benitez is often criticized for not transferring his magical touch in Europe into the continental competition. He’s often acclaimed as a genius one day and then an absolute clueless manager the next.

But for that, he didn’t care much. He thought he deserve more credit and for this game, he had a point to prove.

With plans to unsettle Real from the first minute, the visitors were probably shaken even before the game with the Anfield faithful in their usual buoyant self, lashing out chorus after chorus of their hopeful hymn.

If that wasn’t intimidating enough, to see Javier Mascherano on fire would be. The Argentinian midfielder put in tackles after tackles, interceptions after interceptions. His performance was immense. Imperious even. Partnering Xabi Alonso in the centre of midfield, both held firm and gave Steven Gerrard the license to roam and kill.

Liverpool’s second was definitely controversial. Penalty was given when the ball hits Gabriel Heinze on his shoulder. Referee biasness might be the cause but it seemed like everything the Argentinian defender does, it’s a foul and therefore you can’t really blame him.

Steven Gerrard up against the best goalkeeper in the world and he tucked the ball into the net with no frills. One his 100th European game, he looked like he’s an echelon above every else even at this stage. It is how much difference a fired-up player could make.

Juande Ramos must’ve been relieved to hear the half time whistle as his team withdrawn back into their bunkers to devise on a new plan. He must be wondering how if he’s coaching the 9 time European Champions or Tottenham Hotspur in disguise.

And any thought of a comeback where quenched immediately by yet another spectacular Steven Gerrard goal.

Ryan Babel, unpredictable and even irritating at times, was able to deliver a fantastic left foot cross for Stevie G to volley the ball past the hapless Casillas. Surely that must be game over for Juande’s men.

With the strikers devoid of any support and the midfielders totally closed down, Real had to choice but to revert to a suicidal 3-4-3 formation. They had to sacrifice Italian captain, Fabio Cannavaro and to be frank, if he had a choice he would’ve voluntarily walk off anyway.

On came Rafael van der Vaart, whom on 15 Feb ’09 was quoted saying that Liverpool fears Real. Oh yea, definitely.

Liverpool just had to put the game to bed in the most humorous or humiliating way, whichever way you see it. A fourth goal was to be scored and it’s by the much-maligned Andrea Dossena. The Italian defender was able to connect well with Mascherano’s cross and it slipped through under the arms of Casillas.

On another note, Jay Spearing made his European debut. It must’ve been quite an experience playing alongside his childhood heroes and at the same time, rampaging and ravaging the remnants of Real Madrid left on the field. The confused and clueless looks on the faces of Raul and Sneijder should’ve been a good encouragement for him that he was part of a team that made an impact in the European stage.

And for Rafa Benitez, it was a point to prove and proved it he did. Even though his reputation is still at stake with the Man Utd game coming up, the fear that his team strike in the heart of European’s great teams are apparent.

Inter, Barcelona, Juventus and now, Real, have a taste of what it is to be on the end of Liverpool’s sword. Not that nice to be honest and Real just had to have it the toughest way.

Have it, for in Europe, we fear no one.


Thew said...

Actually Jay Spearing has played in the Champions League before. He played in one of the group games.


Oh thanks for the insight! Must've missed it out.