Giants Stumble in Europe

Daniel Agger is finally healthy. His addition to the Liverpool defense will surely be a lift because right now it is struggling to keep opponents from scoring. (Courtesy Wikicommons.

Daniel Agger is finally healthy. His addition to the Liverpool defense will surely be a lift because right now it is struggling to keep opponents from scoring. (Courtesy Wikicommons.

By Kevin Koczwara

Liverpool Lose in Florence

It is a staggering scoreline: Liverpool 0-2 Fiorentina.

Rafa Benetiz cannot explain it. Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard cannot understand or defend it. As for the defense, they have looked like Babe in the Big City all year long–they have one clean sheet, a 5-0 win against the struggling attack of Stoke. And they can’t explain their struggles.

Liverpool went into the match confident, and Fiorentina had had a few “sleepless nights” after seeing the Reds put up six easy goals against Hull in the weekend. But none of it mattered on the pitch on Tuesday as Fiorentina scored two goals in less than 10 minutes, putting the visiting Reds on their backs like a hapless turtle.

Liverpool didn’t start the match out in good spirit–well let’s say their spirits were too high and they didn’t respect their opponent. This type of mentality could of been for a few reasons.

  • They were overconfident after their latest thrashing of Hull.
  • They were looking forward to the match against Chelsea this weekend.
  • They didn’t respect the struggling Fiorentina, who had only scored 4 goals so far this year.
  • Their best squad wasn’t on the field.

Let’s look at the third point, it is the only one that can be explained. I look at the starting 11 and see a serious omission: Albert Reira. the left-footed Spaniard has been the squads best wide player, and is their only option on the left side of the attack. He is stronger than Benayoun, and poses a dangerous threat with his whipping crosses and powerful shot, neither of which Benayoun brings to a match.

Yes, Benayoun is creative with the ball at his feet, but he struggles against strong opposition and playing on the outside, he drifts in too much and doesn’t give the team any width. And one of my pet peeves is spacing and width. You need spacing and width to open up the game, and create passing lanes, running lanes, shooting lanes and defend. Aurelio was supposed to give Liverpool that, but he is still rusty and more of a true defender–he has also probably lost his spot to the up-and-coming Insua.

I just can’t see why Benetiz leaves out Reira, he has a great game on Sunday, is in great form and has been one of the teams best midfielders so far this year.

The defense is another story…And it starts with Lucas…

Lucas is not Mascherano or the departed Xabi Alonso, and the sooner Reds fans (including myself) see that and see the Brazilian’s potential is high. I hope he can develop this year into a full-time player, because he has the skill, just lacks confidence and the know-how. If he doesn’t fix his problems soon though, he will be out of the starting 11 regularly when Aquilani returns.

Daniel Agger Healing

The other problem Liverpool is facing is the age of Jamie Carragher. He has a lot of miles on those boots (currently over 500 appearances) and may be wearing thin. He is still one of the best in England, but with Agger int he mix he could get the rest he needs, keeping him fresh for games against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United.

Agger can also give Martin Skrtel a rest now and then too. Skrtel’s style of play leaves him with bruises and broken bones, so he needs a game off here and there, whether he wants to admit it or not. So, if Agger can step in and make an instant impact on the pitch–which is expected–than Liverpool’s defense may stand a chance this year, and re-coup a little bit of the swagger that they have had in the past.

AC Milan Sinks, Again

This year wasn’t suppose to be easy for the giants of Italy, but it wasn’t suppose to be this difficult either. The sale of Kaka was a “financial necessity.” He didn’t want to go, or so he says. And the club didn’t want to sell him, but his outrageous price tag lead to his exit. And now Milan is trying to pick-up the pieces, and this puzzle looks like it is missing some.

Today, AC Milan lost 0-1 to FC Zurich at the San Siro. That doesn’t happen to Milan. They don’t lose at San Siro, and definitely not to the likes of FC Zurich. But with the loss of Kaka it doesn’t look like Milan has the finishing touch and power that they once posed. They just can’t put away their chances, and they need to start too. They are falling behind in the Serie A table, and are looking like third or fourth place finishers in their Champions League table, which means they are out of the European club championship. And hooked from Europe’s biggest stage.

If they are truly short on finances, than they better get a move on because without Champions League money this could almost be a Leeds United case.

This is Milan’s current status:

  • Serie A: Currently tied for seventh int he table with 8 points, but in eleventh due to a -3 goal differential, Milan is7 points from the top and far from surging in the league. They tied Bari 0-0. The team has scored 3 goals so far in the campaign, being shut-out 4 times.
  • Champions League: AC Milan is second behind Real Madrid with 3 points, tied with FC Zurich. But with2 games still at hand against the juggernaut Real, one more against Marseilles (who will be tough even though Mialn already beat them) and one more still against Zurich, who will be confident and at home in the next meeting. AC needed this fixture, and they need to now pick-up the pieces and put together a good run.

Milan is in dire need of some revamping and confidence. The team has a good amount of talent, albeit maybe too old and maybe too young, but they have talent. They just need to start working collectively and start putting the ball in the back of the net.

Pato is a world-class striker who is still coming of age, the giants of Italy just need to start making him their focal point. And maybe during this transfer window get rid of the aging Pirlo and the out of form Ronaldhino.

Ronaldhino needs a reality check. He was once the best. Now he is a waste of talent. He is suppose to be in his prime, yet he looks like a fly caught in sap on the pitch. It is a sad sight. Maybe he should return to Brazil like his former international counterpart Adriano (he just got recalled to the national team after working his life out back in Brazil, far away from Inter Milan).

Kevin Koczwara can be reached at kkoczwar@gmail.com. Follow The Soccer Guys on Twitter: @thesoccerguys. Follow Kevin on twitter: @kkoczwara. Check out his other blog on all things happening: Feel Da Beat.

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