Preview: Chelsea - Liverpool

Chelsea and Liverpool confounded most of the footballing world by serving up a thrilling quarter-final first leg at Anfield last week. Expected to be the usual dour war of attrition, the game was instead a super spectacle with Guus Hiddink’s men producing a fantastic display to run out 3-1 winners. Yet it had all started so promisingly for the Reds who opened the scoring after only six minutes courtesy of Fernando Torres. However, the Blues stormed back to take full control of the game with Branislav Ivanovic bagging a brace before Didier Drogba added the icing on the cake with the third away goal. The win has filled Chelsea with optimism and the Blues are now daring to dream that this may finally be the year in which they conquer Europe. Liverpool, meanwhile, must now travel to west London knowing they have to score three times, without reply, if they are to maintain their Champions League dreams. Comeback Kings Of course the Merseysiders are no strangers to sensational comebacks and with three goals required, memories of their 2005 Champions League win resurface. The Reds were famously trailing AC Milan 3-0 at half-time in the final before roaring back to level the game and then eventually prevailing on penalties. Whilst that comeback was remarkable, something similarly brilliant will be required on Wednesday if they are to knock Chelsea out and book themselves a semi-final date with either Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Although it looks a tall order there are signs that this game is not quite over and that Liverpool can pull off the seemingly impossible. Benitez’s boys are in good goalscoring form, having hit 14 goals in their last four Premier League games. The Anfield outfit can also draw comfort from the fact that they scored four times at Old Trafford recently, put five past Aston Villa and bounced back from their defeat to Chelsea with another 4-0 win over Blackburn at the weekend. Yet Chelsea’s defence have also, inadvertently, handed the Reds reason for optimism ahead of the game. Hiddink’s men were 4-0 up and cruising on Saturday at Stamford Bridge but three goals in nine minutes from Bolton Wanderers set up a nervy finish and will have given both Hiddink and Benitez food for thought. The Liverpool boss undoubtedly has much to ponder going into the game and not least his skipper Steven Gerrard. Liverpool’s talisman sat out the Blackburn game nursing a groin injury but is expected to play on Tuesday. However, he was so brilliantly nullified by Michael Essien at Anfield that Benitez will need to think again about how best to employ his No. 8 if Liverpool are to have a chance of making the last four. TEAM NEWS Chelsea John Terry is suspended but Ricardo Carvalho is fit again and should partner Alex in central defence. Nicolas Anelka and Deco featured as substitutes at the weekend but, aside from replacing Terry, Hiddink may keep faith with the team that began the first leg. Possible starting XI: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Carvalho, Cole, Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Malouda, Kalou, Drogba. Liverpool Javier Mascherano returns from suspension and should replace Lucas Leiva whilst Steven Gerrard should also start after being rested from the win against Blackburn Rovers at the weekend. Daniel Agger is also vying for a place in the starting XI after starting and scoring in the weekend win against Rovers. Possible Starting XI: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Kuyt, Mascherano, Alonso, Riera, Gerrard, Torres. PLAYERS Chelsea – Ricardo Carvalho With John Terry missing through suspension and Liverpool needing to score three goals Chelsea will need to be strong at the back on Wednesday night. After missing large chunks of the season through injury Carvalho is expected to return to the side and his presence could prove crucial. The Portuguese has long been the linchpin of the Chelsea backline and with Torres and Gerrard in top form, he will need to be at his very best at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool – Fernando Torres With three goals the order of the day Fernando Torres has to be Liverpool’s main danger man at Stamford Bridge. ‘El Nino’ is on fire at the moment and it would be little surprise to find the Spaniard on the scoresheet at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard bagged the opener in the first leg and followed that with a brace at the weekend, the first of which was a truly stunning strike. Against a Chelsea defence missing its skipper Torres will look to profit and score the goals that will help Liverpool attempt what would be a stunning comeback. PREDICTION Few would have predicted a 3-1 away win for Chelsea in the first leg which makes predicting the second leg just as tricky. An early goal for Liverpool could see them on course for an incredible comeback but logic suggest that three goals at Stamford Bridge is too much to ask of Benitez’s men. What looks certain is that Chelsea will progress but expect the return fixture to be tight, tense and quite possibly tied. Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool


rio2000 said...

chelsea maju......

(masih sakit hati sama liverpool di istanbul '05)

from Milanisti

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