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Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties to advance to the final for the second time in three seasons whilst Chelsea are still to reach the final. Of the so-called big four clubs in the English premiership Chelsea are the only one to not have qualified for the final of Europe's premier club competition.
I think Chelsea lost the plot in the first leg at Stamford Bridge because after dominating for long periods, they could only score a single goal. I think a second goal would have gone a long way into securing their place in the final. They should have been sharper in front of goal because taking such a slender lead to Anfield was never going to make Liverpool's life difficult.
It would also appear to me that whilst Liverpool practiced penalties prior to this match Chelsea don't seem to have done that and you can tell from their poorly taken penalties and the lack of confidence in the face of the takers. Liverpool on the other hand were well drilled for the penalties and all their kicks were excellent. They even brought in Robbie Fowler towards the end and I think he was brought in potentially as penalty taker and that was a good move on behalf of manager Rafael Benitez.
In the other semi-final Milan outclassed Manchester United at the San Siro and will now again meet their 2005 conquerors in the final. The Milan/Manchester United semi-final produced the better football and Milan showed their class and United never looked like scoring against a Kaka inspired Milan. Cristiano Ronaldo never rose to the occasion and now Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, will have to wait another year.
I think the final should be an interesting one being played between two sides with contrasting styles. I don't think Milan will allow Liverpool to come back again should they go in front this time and my verdict is that Liverpool will only win this final if the match goes to a penalty shoot-out.
Now turning to the losing semi-finalists, its now back to the league and the FA Cup business for both teams. Chelsea's quadruple dream has now been reduced to a treble if not a double whilst for United the dream is now for a double.
With the league title seemingly gone to United, it will not be surprising to see Chelsea just holding on the
less prestigious League Cup but whatever happens the next three weeks should be interesting for both set of fans and even the neutrals like me.
I don't agree with you that Liverpool will need penalties to beat Milan. Yes, last time we needed penalties but this time the team is better and more balanced and its possible to beat Milan in regulation time. I am not saying its going to be easy, don't get me wrong, but once we are in front Milan will struggle to break down our astute defence just like Chelsea failed to do and so it will be the sixth European cup for Liverpool in Athens. The glory days are back!
Looking at Rafa's orchestra hands, you can see he was indicating moving the ball square at the back then chip over bypassing the midfield to the wings and bring in a cross, just too simple and rudimentary at that level...
I tip Milan for the championship, they have learnt to close down opponents quickly as shown against Bayern in Germany and against Man U at San Siro...that is why apart from Paul Scholes, all the other players couldn't keep up with the momentum and the pace of ball movement, players like Giggs, Carrick, Fletcher who all looked ordinary....there is no substitute for quality and skill...you can be lucky once, but twice lucky, while it can happen is very rare...
Prior to the semi, Pool fielded a weakened side against Pompey and they lost. In contrast Man U and Chelsea had to field as strong sides as they could against Everton and Bolton respectively.
Even if Man U and Chelsea had won, they would have had to field strong sides in their remaining matches which Pool doesn't have to do.
I would like to see if Pool can repeat their exploits when their new American owners demand that they win the league. Then we can compare them against Man U and Chelsea but at the moment I am sorry I cannot see any comparison. Too easy for Pool!
The problem is compounded by the fact that they can safely get third or fourth place at the moment which means they can afford to lose some games here and there and still finish the league in a position that allows them to qualify for the Champions League again.
Yeah, if you are guaranteed a top four finish, why worry......its changing in the other leagues, one particular one being Spanish and to some extent Bundesliga. We just hope the capital interest in some smaller clubs like Portsmouth, Aston Villa (who used to be champions in the past), the talk about Man City will improve the contests, and make it more competitive.