Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Whatever happens, Istanbul, May 2005. Thanks Liverpool."

So said the banner on the curva and there was mutual applause from both sets of fans at the end of the match. We gave the Inter Ultras one of their best ever nights when we beat AC Milan in the final three years back. The performance last night wasn't up their with that epic night but it was a sign that our team is as good as any in Europe over two legs. With Rafa pulling the strings and the likes of Reina, Carra, Gerrard and Torres in the side, I don't see any reason why we can't get to a third final in four years.

1-0 was the score on the night and was a fair enough result. Inter had some reasonable chances in the first half but our defence led by Carra (100 euro appearances) and Sami put them under pressure and didn't give them a second. When they did get a shot off, Pepe was able to make a save like he did from a Cruz effort. Zlatan had some clever approach play but left his shooting boots behind and didn't get an effort on target.

Mascherano was superb again in midfield. He was up against two formidable opponents in Cambiasso and the excellent Zanetti, and an over the hill one in Viera. Ably assisted by Lucas, who was efficient without being spectacular, and Gerrard, they had problems initially but exerted more control as the match went on.

Up front, Babel and Kyt worked hard but neither were great here. Torres was good and a threat on the break which kept their defence honest. When the goal did come it was worth waiting for. Great stuff from the unstoppable Nino.

It got easier once Burdisso was sent off for his second yellow. When we scored, Inter's collective head's dropped. Mancini wasn't happy and was waving imaginary cards in the air. It's common to see this from continental players but not from managers.

Our win has prompted Mancini to quit his post at Inter come the end of the season. Jose for the next inter manager?

Alonso stayed behind for the birth of his child. Some of the tabloids said that Rafa now wants rid of him but the boss denied this. I read online a few months back that Xabi wants to leave for Spain to raise their child there. I'd be sad to see him leave but that's a lifestyle choice for him and his family which is totally fair enough.

Henry Winter in the Telgraph says something that I myself thought last night. I was planning to say in this post that Mascherano was like a younger, livelier, Argentine version of Marshal P├ętain with his "Ils ne passeront pas" attitude. Damn those professional journalist with their deadlines, beating me to it.

There is a great blog post on Setanta that should be made required reading for Gray, Redknapp, Keys and the rest of the goons on Sky. The crucial point here is that Torres has only been rested for two league games where he was fit. Gray doesn't let this get in the way of a cheap dig and last night said that Rafa "rests Torres 'time and again'". Ronaldo has been rest/rotated for three Utd matches this year, one of which was a defeat to Fulham. Why doesn't Gray go on about that?

Daniel Taylor has a good article on the match in the guardian. One paragraph in particular stood out for me.

"The thing about Torres is that he can make opponents feel old and spectators feel young, and this was another sublime goal to add to his collection. The best players rise to the occasion, something that is frequently used as a stick to beat Cristiano Ronaldo, an attacker of sublime talent yet one who has seldom illuminated the Champions League on Manchester United's foreign excursions."

There is only one Zlatan apparently. I don't think that he showed up last night when needed. Still a good player though.

It's Reading's turn to visit Anfield this Saturday at 3. I know that we're in good form at the moment so we should be able to do it, especially as we owe them one from when they beat us 3-1 back in December. We really need to make the most of this given that our next three games are Utd, Everton and Arsenal. Let's make hay while the sun shines.

Two players that we've recently been linked to from la liga are Arango and Trejo from Real Mallorca. Samir Nasri, a player we've been linked to in the past, has only 18 months left on his contract according to this report. Does that mean we'll put in a cheap bid in the summer?


Thomas Kelly said...

Arango would be an interesting signing, I don't know quite how he'd fit into the Liverpool, being as he plays an attacking midfield role ala Gerrard. He's excellent though and at probably at his peak right now. He's too good for Mallorca. What sort of money is being mentioned? I'd say you'd get him for about £10 million. Don't know anything about Trejo, haven't seen him play at all.

Reading today will be a fairly handy 3 points I'd imagine yeah?

Mal said...

I don't know too much about Arango but I hear good stuff about him. Don't know what price is being talked about. Could he play wide left or right?

It was 3 points v Reading but not as handy as I would have hoped.