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Liverpool Pays the Price for Poor Team Selection

Rafa Benitez has himself to blame for Liverpool’s defeat last night in the Champions League. Deciding to put Leto and Aurelio on the left wing and Sissoko in the middle was a devastating mistake.

It was almost as if Benitez seemed to not take Marseille too seriously, the first French side ever to win at Anfield. Valbuena’s goal, an exquisite shot, was the deciding factor.

For Benitez, he should have started Arbeloa as left back instead of the woeful Aurelio. Riise should have began the match as left winger instead of Leto, and Mascherano should have been on instead of Sissoko.

With those changes, Liverpool would have been a completely side last night. Based on Sissoko’s poor performances recently, how did he start the match and why did Benitez keep him on for 90 minutes?

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  1. Bela

    October 5, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    I think the French side pulled out a smashing victory. I will have to have some nice French wine to celebrate.

    I am not a Liverpool fan in the least. I rather support Leyton Orient than the reds but I agree, Benitez needs to stop playing musical chairs with the line up. It reduces team unity. This isn’t a team full of Brazilians who can play away from each other for 6 months and come back and kill teams.

    Liverpool kills in Europe. They are expected to. And to get beat by a French team that is near the bottom of their league, people are gonna pick on Benitez. I know I did. But on the other hand, I am excited to see that Liverpool are doing well in the Prem. Finally someone that can stand up to Man Utd. God knows Chelsea won’t do it this season

    Thanks for the comment Gaffer. I thought I was alone with my blog

  2. Anonymous

    October 5, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    i listened to the pod, and c’mon, that brown guy is an ass. where did the fantasy of “gerrard playing on the right” come from? i guess he forgot what this years criticism in supposed to be, so then he rehashed last years. i am not surprised and actually happy that he is a chelski “fan.” Gaffer, i like your podcast and listen to it most weeks, but peter brown is a fool. and gaffer, its cute to think you know more than rafa on whats the best team for a certain match. ridiculous.

  3. Anonymous

    October 4, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Smelly scousers…

  4. Ben

    October 4, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    I think its so hard to really judge the lineup changes that would have worked/wouldn’t have worked. But why has Arbeloa been saved for the EPL fixtures so much? He hasn’t missed a minute in the EPL games. Did Arbeloa play in the Champs League opener though, I don’t know? His absence was clear when Marsaille spent that 10 minute spell late in the 1st down Liverpools left side and Liv just could not clear the ball up their way. Arbeloa would have picked up the pace and move them fwd but they kept knocking it around with no urgency.

    If anything, what about the Crouch/Kuyt reversal? Rafa tries to give Crouch time to prove himself and figures Torres is enough speed. The game was pretty much played on the ground all night and the few air chances went to Hyppia when they should have been going to Kuyt. They take Crouch out at the 75th and then the final 10 minutes they have about 20 balls crossed in about, oh, 2.5 meters off the ground where Crouch’s noggin would have been…just like he played Crouch last year when he scored lots (in little time).

  5. The Gaffer

    October 4, 2007 at 10:41 am

    If you get a chance, listen to last night’s EPL Talk Show available via podcast at iTunes or

    During the show, I go into a more thorough analysis and discuss Marseille’s fine performance.

    Rather than repeat myself on the blog, I decided to focus on a different aspect of the game (i.e. Rafa’s poor selection).

    The Gaffer

  6. Anonymous

    October 4, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Well said MJ. I feel the French side was dominant and really came out with a solid tactical plan regardless of whom Liverpool fielded in their side.

  7. Anonymous

    October 4, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Pool is missing Alonso badly. Couldn’t see the game last night but, as a Liverpool fan, there is just one trophey that matters to me this season-the one we haven’t won in 17 years…

  8. MJ

    October 4, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Excuse me for a second here.

    Would it simply be beyond everyone’s reach to give Marseille credit here instead of just focusing on Liverpool?

    It’s tough enough to win at Anfield in the Premier League, but Liverpool are near-invincible at home in the Champions League. The team picked by Rafael Benitez is almost irrelevant, the fact of the matter is Marseille still went to Anfield and came away with a win. Look, it’s not as if they beat a semi-pro side; that was still an extremely capable Liverpool team with Carragher, Gerrard, Reina, Torres, Finnan, and Benayoun in the lineup.

    Give credit where credit is due. Marseille did an outstanding job to walk away with 3 points; don’t take anything away from them.

  9. Anonymous

    October 4, 2007 at 7:31 am

    I think the crutch of this article is simple…Rafa Benetiz must kill this rotation policy and the sooner the better. Until then, Liverpool will have no chemistry on the pitch.

    If you Liverpool fans can’t realize that, then you have serious problems.

  10. Anonymous

    October 4, 2007 at 7:19 am

    Poor analysis of the players and as many have said, hindsight is wonderful. Players that have played well previously had a stinker – how can you blame that on the manager? It’s easy to sit in your arm chair and say if this player had played the result would have been different.

    We are however, badly missing Aggers pace at the back and Alonso’s range of passing.


  11. Anonymous

    October 4, 2007 at 6:51 am

    oh, and should we not give benitez credit for prioritizing the league and not europe? theres no way he can win- no credit for torres being a good signing, every game he MUST play whoever that pundit thinks are liverpools best players… on and on.

  12. Anonymous

    October 4, 2007 at 6:48 am

    what a lazy bit of “analysis.” the punditocracy has decried that rotation is bad, so every bad liverpool result and performance is the fault of team selection. its a lazy criticism that is impossible to answer. how many liverpool matches have you watched this season “gaffer?” do you really feel you are qualified to say what is right and wrong with them?

  13. Anonymous

    October 4, 2007 at 6:36 am

    Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? Mascherano’s passing in his last outing was woeful (maybe not as bad as Momo’s last night but stil…), Leto impressed against Reading and Aurelio has shown himself to be a pretty good player in the past – that they all played badly last night was self evident, that Rafa would know they would play that badly before the game started is not…

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