According to the press gossipers Benitez looks to have made his decisions with regard to the formation and line up. We are in disagreement with a few of them.
As we have argued in our previous posting “Rafa’s line up and formation” Liverpool should place particular attention to the midfield by flooding it with five players but allowing the more attacking player the freedom to support the striker.
According to reports coming out of Athens this is what is likely to happen and we are happy with that. It’s the choice of personnel we have a problem with.
It is mooted that Crouch will not start and Kuyt will play up front with Gerrard supporting him in a withdrawn, Kaka type, of role.
But one major weakness of the Italians is their vulnerability to high balls especially Dida. Surely Benitez should exploit this by playing Crouch there! What is the point in starting with Pennant and Zenden if you don’t have someone in the penalty area capable of exploiting their deliveries. Crouch should start up front with Kuyt supporting him.
Our second disagreement concerns Gerrard’s role. We would prefer to see him start in central midfield as he is a much more robust tackler and energetic runner in covering spaces than Alonso is. And this will be particularly important as it is in the midfield that Liverpool will have to fight to nullify their opponent’s particular strength.
Our third concern is that if and when Rafa needs to change Liverpool’s game plan he is really deprived of what we believe is his best Plan “B” which would involve moving Gerrard in a forward position.
Ok he wants to start with Kuyt up front instead of Crouch so as to exploit another perceived weakness of the Italians which is their relative lack of mobility at the back. But surely this should be part of the Plan “B” referred to above where it will be better deployed in the latter part of the game when you would expect tiredness to set in.
If in the end Gerrard and Kuyt start up front then Liverpool will not be exploiting the opponent’s weaknesses to the full.
And what is likely to happen is that Kuyt will not be able to hold the ball up front that well. Thus more pressure will be placed on Liverpool’s midfield, as the game will be mostly concentrated there, sucking Gerrard in the process.
Is this what Rafa is aiming for? Another stalemate and hopefully penalty shoot out?
We would like to believe that the rumours coming out of Athens are just “Greek lies” to smokescreen the opponents!