Ugly Night

Chelsea beat Liverpool 1-0 last night and it pains to type this, but the best team won.  LP is lucky it wasn’t worse (TTL predicted a tight 1-1 game WRONG).  Jose got the best of Rafa, as Chelsea defended magnificently and caught LP on the counter time after time.  Drogba was sensational and linked up with a resurgent Joe Cole for the only goal.  Chelsea even managed to avoid cards, ensuring they’ll have everybody for the return leg next Tuesday.  Did enjoy referee Markus Merk giving the ever complaining John Terry the brush-off after the game. 

Where to start with LP’s performance?  Their passing and defense, particularly in the 1st half, was shaky at best.  Riise almost gifted Chelsea a goal with a horrific backpass.  Lofting the ball to the diminutive Bellamy and porn star Kuyt upfront was tactically horrible, as Terry and the world class Carvalho easily handled the high balls.  Good ploy when the freakish Crouch is on the pitch, terrible waste of Bellamy and Kuyt’s pace and movement.  Think Rafa outfoxed himself starting Zenden.  Decent enough sub but not worthy of starting the CL semis.  He brought nothing to the table despite his best efforts.  Check out this thoughtful analysis of Zenden’s performance and the game in general.

Bottom line:  LP never looked like scoring, despite dominating possession at times in the 2nd half.  Sure Cech made an otherworldly stop on Gerrard’s half-volley but that was LP’s only real chance of the game.  If Reina hadn’t played well in goal and Chelsea been a bit more ruthless might have been 3-0.  As it stands, Chelsea goes to Anfield up 1-0.  If Chelsea score an away goal, then LP need to score 3 to win it.  Behind an absolutely raucous crowd think LP will even it at 1-1 before Chelsea scores on a patented deflected goal in the 80 minute to win it in the most painful manner possible.  Just feels like the year of Chelsea. 

In other footie news, the semis of the UEFA Cup are tonight at 20:45 CET and 2:45 EDT.  Spain is mirroring England’s success by having 3 teams in the semis with the all-Spanish semi of CA Osasuna v Sevilla and Espanyol v Werder Bremen(German).  Return legs are same time next Thursday.   Quick predictions are Sevilla and Bremen which would set-up a good final in Glasgow on May 16th. 

Tomorrow will be a weekend viewing guide as the Premiership, Bundesliga, Eredivisie and Primera Division all have hotly contested title races.  Until then, enjoy the games. 

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