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 CL Preview: Marseille - Liverpool

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EL LODDZ
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PostSubject: CL Preview: Marseille - Liverpool   Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:03 am

What: Champions League Matchday 1, Group D
Who: Olympique de Marseille (FRA) v Liverpool FC (ENG)
When: Tuesday September 16, 2008 - 20:45 (UTC+1)
Where: Stade Velodrome, Marseille



Reawakening Giants



Matchday 1 of the 2008-09 Champions League group stages will see Liverpool travel to Marseille in a battle of the once-greats. Both were at one time the unrivalled giants of their country, yet neither have won a league title since the early 1990s. Both remain their country’s most successful club but are in serious danger of losing that mantle. Both have been looking forward to ‘next year’ for far too long.

But the time may finally be nigh for two of Europe’s historical heavyweights to reclaim their crowns. Both have invested extensively yet shrewdly in the market over the last few summers. Both have assembled arguably their strongest team on paper since their heyday. And neither have the chameleon-haired, brittle-legged Djibril Cisse in their squad any more.

What’s more, they each go into their Champions League opener in decent touch.

Good Vibes

Liverpool are lucky to even be in the competition after their indifferent showing against Standard Liege in the third round of qualifying. It took the Reds until the 207th minute of the tie to break open the Belgian champions’ defence, Dirk Kuyt poking home deep in extra time of the second leg to spare his team-mates’ and his manager’s blushes.

But things have picked up quite suddenly for the Merseyside giants. They remain unbeaten and sit second in the Premier League table after claiming a thoroughly deserved win against Manchester United on Saturday. It is Liverpool’s best start since Rafael Benitez arrived in 2004, and they travel to the south of France high on confidence.

Once again, Marseille’s situation is similar. They couldn’t quite hold on to claim their first win at Bordeaux in 31 years, but the draw leaves them second in Ligue 1 behind perennial front-runners Olympique Lyon. In other words, it has been a promising start for Eric Gerets’ side as they seek to deny les Gones an eighth consecutive title – just as Liverpool hope to prevent United matching their record of 18 English championships.

Déjà Vu

Liverpool and Marseille will be sick at the sight of each other by the end of the group stage, having met at the same point of last season’s Champions League. L’OM inflicted a shock defeat on the Reds at Anfield, courtesy of Mathieu Valbuena’s unanswered stunner. But the five-time European champs hit back with a 4-0 win at Stade Velodrome to progress to the knockout rounds – they eventually reached the semi-finals, where they fell to Chelsea – while their hosts were dumped into the UEFA Cup. The fixtures are reversed this time around, but it remains to be seen whether the results will differ.


FORM GUIDE

Marseille

13 Sept v Bordeaux (A) DREW 1-1

30 Aug v Sochaux (H) WON 2-1

27 Aug v SK Brann (H) WON 2-1

23 Aug v Le Havre (A) WON 1-0

17 Aug v Auxerre (H) WON 4-0


Liverpool

13 Sept v Manchester United (H) WON 2-1

31 Aug v Aston Villa (A) DREW 0-0

27 Aug v Standard Liege (H) WON 1-0

23 Aug v Middlesbrough (H) WON 2-1

16 Aug v Sunderland (A) WON 1-0


TEAM NEWS


Marseille

The home side have been buoyed by the return of Mathieu Valbuena, who proved to be Liverpool’s bane at Anfield last season. The 23-year-old midfielder had been battling a groin injury, but he featured against Bordeaux at the weekend and could start on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Hatem Ben Arfa is also hoping to return to the starting XI after sustaining a knee knock during training recently. The France winger, like Valbuena, managed a late substitute appearance at the weekend and is likely to feature in some capacity agains the Reds. Karim Ziani remains an option for the left, however, while Bolo Zenden is on standby to line up against his old club.

Coach Gerets employed something resembling a diamond midfield at Bordeaux, with Benoit Cheyrou and Charles Kabore playing box-to-box roles on the flanks. That shape may well be ditched for a 4-2-3-1 with captain Lorik Cana returning in a holding role alongside either Cheyrou or Modeste M’bami.

Possible Line-Up: Mandanda – Bonnart, Hilton, Zubar, Taiwo – Cana, Cheyrou or M’bami – Kone, Valbuena or Ziani, Ben Arfa – Niang


Liverpool

All the speculation surrounding Liverpool ahead of this clash concerns the fitness of Steven Gerrard (groin) and Fernando Torres (hamstring). The pair were left out of the starting XI against the Red Devils at the weekend, Gerrard coming on halfway through the second period while Torres sat out altogether. Both were expected to be fit for the trip to France but rumours have sprung up that they could be left out of the squad entirely.

That would leave Benitez in something of a pickle given Javier Mascherano pulled up with a calf complaint late in the United game. Either of Damien Plessis and Lucas Leiva may thus be given an opportunity in midfield beside Xabi Alonso, while David N’Gog or Ryan Babel could start up front (or both, if the somewhat out-of-touch Robbie Keane gets dropped).

Sami Hyypia’s surprise exclusion from the Champions League roster means Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger are left to fight for a place beside Jamie Carragher in central defence, while Andrea Dossena and Fabio Aurelio will battle for the left-back slot. Albert Reira, who impressed on debut at the weekend, is a possibility to retain his place on the left wing, while Dirk Kuyt is likely to line up on the right.

The formation will depend on who is available. While it would be a surprise if Benitez made any significant changes from the side that defeated the English and European champions, if Gerrard and Torres are fit then the system may have to be shifted to accommodate them.

Possible Line-Up: Reina – Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena – Mascherano, Alonso – Kuyt, Gerrard, Babel – Torres


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Marseille

Bakary Kone comes into the clash in good form after scoring in the first minute against Bordeaux. The Ivorian forward was one of Marseille’s star recruits during the summer and has settled well at his new club, showing promise both on the right and up front. Taye Taiwo is another one to keep an eye on, inasmuch as the Nigerian full-back’s attacking instincts mean both sides are likely to get some joy down Marseille’s left flank.

Liverpool

As mentioned earlier, it’s a matter of who plays for the Reds. If Gerrard and Torres start, then they are the obvious drawcards. If the skipper sits out, expect Xabi Alonso to see an awful lot of the ball. The Basque playmaker has been in excellent form of late, as evidenced by his dominant performance against United at the weekend. Alonso’s craft paired with Mascherano’s graft seems a winning combo, and it makes one wonder why Benitez was so eager to sell his compatriot over the summer.


PREDICTION

The sides know each other well enough and could end up mirroring each other in terms of how they set up. Liverpool’s confidence will be through the roof, but it could be case of reverse CL syndrome for them this time around. In the past they have gone into league fixtures flat after thrilling European nights – could they come into this game exhausted after a big win over their fiercest rivals?

Marseille will be wary given what happened at Stade Velodrome last season, but they showed at Anfield that they are more than capable of matching, even bettering, strong opposition. Any Liverpool lapse could easily be punished by l’Oheme’s potent attack – and the reverse is most certainly true as well. Hence, a cagey game could ensue as both sides seek to protect their back-lines and ease their way into the European campaign.

Marseille 1-1 Liverpool

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PostSubject: Re: CL Preview: Marseille - Liverpool   Tue Sep 16, 2008 5:35 pm

i predict a 1-1 draw....will be a hard game to liverpool

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Mahdiano
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PostSubject: Re: CL Preview: Marseille - Liverpool   Tue Sep 16, 2008 5:39 pm

looks like a tough game on paper but after the huge confidence boost Liverpool recieved on saturday after their win over Man utd i think the reds can manage to walk out with 3 points today

If Gerrard n Torres start then things will be even better for Benitez.

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EL LODDZ
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PostSubject: Re: CL Preview: Marseille - Liverpool   Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:39 pm

i agree with mahdiano its not a very hard game if liverpool play well and with the full squad.

probably 1-2 for liverpool.

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EL LODDZ
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Number of posts : 368
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PostSubject: Re: CL Preview: Marseille - Liverpool   Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:02 am

i dont beleive it THE king of predictions has done it again. congratz for LIVERPOOL and LODDZ

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EL LODDZ
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PostSubject: Re: CL Preview: Marseille - Liverpool   Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:42 am

MARSEILLE

Mandanda: 7.0 - The new French international keeper was faultless for either of Liverpool’s two goals, and he did pull off a superb point blank save from Ryan Babel late in the second half. He also saved well to deny Gerrard in the first half.

Taiwo: 6.0: The left back got forward well down the flanks, but was found wanting when it came to the final ball. We didn’t get the opportunity to witness one of his thunderous free kicks either.

Bonnart: 7.0: The tireless right back was impressive down the right but looked better going forward than in defence when the Liverpool wide men got by him a little easily at times. He kept Dossena well occupied and helped keep substitute Albert Riera penned back.

Zubar-: 5.0: Was the weak link in the Marseille back line and gave away a cheap penalty with his challenge on Ryan Babel in the first half. Never looked at ease throughout the game.

Hilton: 7.0: The Brazilian centre back played well and will be disappointed to have finished on the losing side. He could well have got himself on the scoresheet in the second half, but Pepe Reina saved well from his header on 62 minutes.

Cana: 7.5: Marseille’s captain opened the scoring with a well taken goal in the first half and was a consistent performer throughout the 90 minutes.

Cheyrou: 8.5: The OM midfielder was the instigator for the French side picking out intelligent through balls to the likes of Koné and Niang. He was the focal point of much of Marseilles best moves and was always looking to get on the ball showing great vision and technique.

M’bami: 5.5: Holding midfielder M’Bami was unluckily taken off just before half time in a tactical decision by Eric Gerets. There was no sign of an injury and he certainly wasn’t underperforming, but the Belgian trainer obviously wanted a more attacking line-up.

Ben Arfa: 6.0: The summer signing from Lyon showed plenty of clever tricks, but the final delivery was lacking somewhat. Much was expected from him, but he disappointed somewhat and was taken off after 56 minutes.

Koné: 7.5: His pace troubled Liverpool throughout the game and it seemed whenever he got the ball the tempo of the game shifted up a gear. Almost set up Karim Ziani for an equaliser in the second half before being withdrawn after 74 minutes.

Niang: 7.0: The Marseille striker had a frustrating evening and had to wait until the last minute before getting a real goalscoring scoring opportunity. However Reina saved well with his feet to further frustrate the forward.

Substitutes

Valbuena: 6.5: Looked lively, but there was no real delivery from the tricky midfielder.

Ziani: 5.5: The sub had two chances in the second half but both were blasted well over.

Samassi: n/a

Liverpool:

Reina: 7.5: Reina has been in good form early on this season and was once again on top of his game at the Stade Velodrome. He may have done better with the first goal, but he was highly alert I the second half and pulled of two particularly good saved from Hilton and Niang to secure Liverpool all three points.

Arbeloa: 7.0: The Spaniard was reliable enough and did well to deal with the pace of Koné and the skill of Ben Arfa in the first half.

Skrtel: 6.5: The centre back was solid enough alongside Carragher at the heart of the Liverpool defence, but was a little too eager to dive in on the pacey Marseille attackers and earned a yellow card in the first half for one such challenge.

Carragher: 8.0: Dependable and reliable as ever. Carragher seemed to be the one to get his head to all the balls into the Reds area and was always in the right place at the right time to block and clear balls in the second half. Slightly at fault for Marseille’s goal, but a good overall display.

Dossena: 6.5: The summer signing from Udinese was kept occupied at the back by Marseille and had little chance to get forward.

Mascherano: 6.5: The Argentine put in a fantastic performance on Saturday against Manchester United, but looked a little tired tonight in France. Despite that, he provided a good screen in front of the Liverpool back line.

Lucas: 6.0: His tackling left a lot to be desired and earned a yellow card for persistent poor challenges. He also lost possession too much in the second half with some sloppy passing.

Gerrard: 9.0: Gerrard was Liverpool’s match winner, with two goals to his name. The first was a sublime finish when it looked that a shot wasn’t on- one of those goals that only he seems able to pull off. Then he kept his nerve to score from the penalty spot after being told to re-take it by the referee.

Kuyt: 7.0: The Dutchman was as ever full of running and put in plenty of effort. Was used in a number of positions and was taken off just before the end to the applause of the travelling Liverpool fans.

Babel: 7.0: The goal scoring hero against Man. Utd did well to win Liverpool the penalty in the first half and could well have scored in the second half but Mandanda pulled off a fantastic save to deny him.

Torres: 6.0: It wasn’t Torres’ night against Marseille as he made his first appearance in two weeks. He didn’t look 100% and his touch was a little heavy. Came off after 65 minutes to be replaced with Albert Riera.

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PostSubject: Re: CL Preview: Marseille - Liverpool   Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:01 am

Gerrad 1st goal was a beauty
congratulations 4 Liverpool , a very useful win that will help them very much in the later stages of the group
hope Marsille wont do it again n beat u in Anfield Wink

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