Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Halftime Thoughts--Chelsea vs. Liverpool (Second Leg)

• Great atmosphere at Stamford Bridge tonight. This is a proper, proper European occasion. It wouldn’t be complete without pouring rain either; the drearier, the better.

• Terrific long, diagonal ball from Ballack to Ashley Cole in the 8th minute. The German captain has been a man on a mission recently.

• Why did Torres take that shot with his left foot in the 10th minute?? He had a perfect cut-back opportunity on his right foot to bend it to the far post; instead, he cut down his own angle by dribbling further to the byline and getting it on his weaker foot. Great one-touch ball from Gerrard to spring the Spaniard, though.

• Carragher was commanding in the air on Chelsea’s corner kick nearly a quarter of an hour in, with two headers to clear the area.

• If you ever want someone to blast a free kick into the wall or smash it into Row Z, John Arne Riise is your guy.

• Drogba really, really should’ve done better in the 19th minute…you have to score from there. He had Reina dead to rights and only came up with a weak left-footed dribbler.

• Solid strike by Essien, good save by Reina to smother that ball on the wet pitch in the 21st minute.

• Hmm, Hyypia for Skrtel was necessary due to the knock taken by the Slovakian, but it takes away one of Benitez’s changes for later in the game. That could really come back to bite Liverpool.

• Dour period between the 20th-30th minute. One speculative effort from the Kaiser, easily fisted away by Reina.

• Liverpool hasn’t showed nearly enough going forward at this point to make me think they can steal a goal today. You’d have to think Crouch will be on by the 70th minute if things stay the same.

• Wow, a lot of emotion there from Drogba after slamming home the rebound in the 33rd minute. Reina, once again, showed that he is very vulnerable at the near post.

• Drogba seems very motivated by Rafa’s scathing comments earlier in the week. Memo to any professional, either player or coach: NEVER, EVER criticize or insult your opposition before a game. Bulletin board material is exactly what you don’t want to give the other team, and I would’ve thought Benitez would’ve known better than to say what he said. The Ivorian has had multiple chances today and has definitely shown up to play, something that can’t be said about him in recent weeks.

• Drogba should’ve been booked for that clumsy sliding challenge on Gerrard in the 38th or 39th minute. Late, no ball, right on the ankle. Has to be a yellow card and I’m shocked that it wasn’t.

• Was that Avram Grant who slipped and fell backwards into the bench area just before halftime??? That was hilarious!! I hope he’s OK though, you know what they say…the bigger they are, the harder they fall…

• Liverpool has just had a woeful 45 minutes going forward…they have no chance to get back in this tie if they play like that next half. Avram Grant's side is one goal up at the break.

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