By Gareth Freeman
I managed to catch the Madrid derby this weekend and it was a brilliant game for the spectator. A whole host of glorious chances were spurned in the 1-1 draw between the two Spanish side, the good news for Liverpool is the majority fell to Atletico. The Argentine Sergio Aguerro missed at least two one-on-one opportunities and Real’s best player was arguably their keeper Iker Casillas.
Having said that a few warning signs have come from the Bernabeu. Real’s stalwart Raul said "We have a clear idea of what we have to do - score twice," and he is always a danger going forward. Raul may not be quite as effective as he was a few years ago but he is still a top forward and capable of scoring in big games. Without Ruud Van Nistlerooy they have relied on him a lot more and the 31-year-old has notched up 14 goals already this season.
Fabio Cannavaro said he believes if Real take their time a goal ‘will surely come’. I’m not so sure myself as the Liverpool defence held out well last time and Benitez will have a plan to stop the Real attack. Huntelaar scored for Real at the weekend and looked a danger, they left him out of the squad though – something they may live to regret. Higuain looked fairly lively against Atletico and Rafael Van der Vart is another player to watch out for but the Liverpool defence has been fairly solid of late and I think they’ll be able to cope.
It would upset the sports betting odds if Real were to triumph given Liverpool’s advantage, all be it a slender one. The away goal was crucial as now Madrid will have to go out and attack from the off, leaving Liverpool the opportunity to counter.
Fernando Torres is still a doubt for the tie but if he is fit his pace will be vital. Benayoun is another doubt, which is a major blow. Yossi has been one of the Reds’ better players since the turn of the year and he was probably the best player in the first leg as well.
I think Bentitez could be the key to this tie, he outsmarted Juande Ramos last time I wouldn’t go betting against him doing it again. I expect the game to be a nervy affair, with the Champions League the best opportunity for both teams of picking up any silverware this season. With a goal advantage and the added bonus of being at home I can’t see Liverpool slipping up in this one.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
By Gareth Freeman