Athenian Glory

The REMATCH kicks off tonight at 20:45 CET (2:00 EDT; actually a pre-game, er match, show on ESPN2!) in Athens.  The biggest game on the European Football schedule this season it is the Champions League Final of AC Milan v Liverpool.  Most people know the overriding storyline of how Liverpool overcame a 3-0 halftime deficit to beat Milan on penalties in the best Final of all-time in 2005.   Can tonight’s game live up to the legacy? 

TTL thinks not.  Liverpool will certainly start defensive-minded in hopes to off-set the expected quick start by Milan.  The key to this tactic is not to give the ball away too cheaply to Milan, thus letting them attack at will.  The midfield anchors of Xavi Alonso and Javier Masherano need to disrupt the Milan attack and also launch the LP counterattack.  The duo have to play their defensive midfield roles to perfection like Claude Makelele, the French mastermind of this position for Chelsea.  If LP does not control the midfield, then Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo and the bearded anklebiter Genaro Gattuso will cause huge problems, and allow Kaka the freedom to make his devastating offensive forays.

Milan looks to be the aggresor tonight, not in the least part because of revenge.  Despite what they say pubicly, the Rossoneri will field 7 players who lost in that 2005 Final.  Even their inspirational captain, Paolo Maldini (who’ll play in his 8th CL Final tonight!!!) says the lose in 2005 was the worst in his career.  And he’s lost the Euro 200o Final in injury time and the 1994 World Cup Final on penalties.  Yeah, Milan will be out for blood. 

Can LP sustain the aggressive pressure from hell-bent Milan?  The key is all in the midfield.  Whoever controls it should win.  If LP holds steady against the talented 4 of Milan and LP’s talisman Steven Gerrard delivers one of his courageous performances, then LP will take home the CL trophy for the 6th time equaling Milan.  The CL Final will be compelling drama, but not necessarily a good game.  TTL just has a nasty sneaking suspicion that Milan will win 2-0.  Hope to be oh, so wrong on this.  YNWA and Enjoy THE GAME. 

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