Yes, sort off..
A month and a half a go, we wrote Fun and Games: Liverpool kills the ‘beautiful game’..
The timing couldn’t have been more unfortunate..
A month and a half later, Liverpool has trashed both Real Madrid and Manchester United 4-0, and played two historic games against Chelsea and Arsenal (we’re just recovering our breath from the last extraordinary game), both of which ended in 4-4, a rather spectacular scoreline.
Our original point was that Liverpool had a very workmanlike team, without much technical brilliance, and that their tactic involved smothering their adversaries simply by running, pressing, and working harder. It’s a bit like being in high school, there is always that classmate who isn’t terribly clever but manages through sheer persistence and hard work to get better grades than more talented students.
Our prime exhibit for that were the games against Chelsea in past seasons in the Championship League. These were summamently boring affairs as both coaches (Mourinho and Benitez) had similar defensive ideas and the team cancelled each other out.
A couple of things changed:
- Chelsea has a more offensive thinking coach this year (Hiddink), and they took the game on at Liverpool, winning surprisingly and thereby obliging Liverpool to attack in the return match, hence the spectacular 4-4 result
- Liverpool has the best centerforward, Torres, a highly skilful player (just compare him with the rather hapless Swede at the same position in Arsenal today)
- Liverpool is behind Manchester in the Premier League, hence they have to win each game, and therefore play in a more attacking style.
So there was still something in our original thesis, but with the spectacular games and results the last five weeks or so, not a whole lot..
However, with three out of four teams in the last four of the Championship League again being English, we are even more convinced another thesis on the sport was right on the mark. Europe is destroying football in many countries. In Belgium, they might not even broadcast the tournament anymore..