Monday, December 10, 2007

Liverpool-Marseille: More Reds Magic in Store?

If Liverpool has more Champions League magic in reserve, it will have to bring it out in force tomorrow in France against Marseille. Sitting 13th in the French Ligue I, Marseille might seem like a pushover for the Reds, who have been in contention in the Premiership since Day 1. But Marseille are no pushovers. It has beaten Monaco and Metz, and tied Lille in its last three domestic matches. In Europe, it has beaten Besiktas and Liverpool and tied F.C. Porto. Marseille needs today’s match as much as Liverpool.

Oh You Beauty has its take on the Reds’ possible Starting Eleven:

Finnan Carragher Hyypia Arbeloa
Benayoun Gerrard Mascherano Babel
Kuyt Torres

With Agger and Alonso out, it’s arguable that this is Liverpool’s strongest XI. The only differences I contemplated were Kewell for Babel (I’ll still argue that Babel is better served coming off the bench, but he didn't feature at all on Saturday) and Voronin for Kuyt, as Voro’s done well in previous European games.

Of course, that means this probably won’t be the team, but I can’t see that many changes even if it’s not. Other than Babel and Voronin, Lucas and Riise are probably in contention, but I don’t see room in the starting line-up for say, Crouch or Sissoko, both of whom played 90 minutes on Saturday. We certainly won’t see a line-up like the one against Marseille at Anfield.

Personally, I’m rooting for the story. ESPN2 has the game live at 2:30 p.m. ET and there would be nothing better than tie score in the 80th minute and the two teams desperate for the goal that puts them through to the knockout stages. Liverpool thrives once the Champions League hits the final 16, and going in as a No. 2 seed, the Reds are bound to draw a tough foe in the next round. If it gets through, don’t be surprised to see Liverpool soar through to the final four; and how about a semifinal quartet with heavy English: United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal? Sweet dreams; I think Inter, Real and Barca would have something to say about that.

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