Just for once, ahead of last night’s trouncing of the Russian champions, I was the definitive optimist. Indeed, I was quite surprised at the number of seasoned pundits who held an opposite
Given Liverpool’s propensity for turning what should be a secure lead into a nail-biter, sometimes even worse, it’s interesting to speculate on what determines an unassailable lead.
Certainly not 3-0 on recent evidence, but when Mane put away his spectacular volley straight after half-time, even the most pessimistic fan surely felt the Reds were home and dry.
There’s no need to analyse the goals since they’ve been all over the
national media, but one thing which has been assessed repeatedy has been the impact of Liverpool’s newly-named ‘fab-four’ and the selfless way they seem prepared to offer each other the easy tap-in rather than take the greedy option and miss.
Firmino’s pass to Coutinho for the second along with Sturridge’s squared ball for Mane are two clear examples along with several which didn’t quite come off.
The other element of Liverpool’s play is their capacity to get players into scoring positions in the box. Over many years, kopites have done their heads in when one player breaks only to find he has no support.
Not any more. Watch the replays and see how regularly three, sometimes, four forwards are in the opposition penalty area during an attack, especially a counter. In terms of being at the game, it makes every £ of turnstile money feel well worth the entrance fee.
Needless to say, there will always be those who want to emphasis the
negatives such as the inadequacies of the opposition, which is to simply miss the point. I noticed last night how fatigued several Liverpool players were close to the final whistle. To put Spartak to the sword had involved an awful lot of pass and move. A 7-goal slaughter cannot be achieved by playing at half-pace.
What’s more, it’s worth pointing out that the Russians came to Anfield as national champions and latterly were a dozen or more games unbeaten. What’s more they scored five against Seville and were still
in a position to win the group if results fell their way.
Right now, it’s a privilege to watch such irresistible football. It won’t always work out in our favour, but that’s the nature of the game. Players are not robots, but there are still plenty of remote observers who seem to think they are! Mistakes make for excitement and all we can do is hope our side makes fewer than the other team.
* Finally the cup-tie against the Blue Shite is now on a Friday night, Jan.5th, which is good news. Anfield under lights is a daunting experience for all visiting sides, but most especially ones which have just come the short distance across Stanley Park!