Rafa shocked by poor refereeing

Rafael Benitez was visibly upset after seeing Liverpool outperform Brazilian side Sao Paolo in the Club World Cup final, yet still come away as runners-up. There’s certainly no shame for Liverpool from their performances, as Rafa said after the game: "The first thing I can say is congratulations to my players and we deserved to win. We had 21 shots and 17 corners and we hit the bar twice. We scored three goals, but what can you do? One of those goals clearly was not offside. We couldn’t have done any more to win."

It was certainly a strange choice of match officials. If England play Brazil in the Germany World Cup, it seems unlikely that FIFA would select two Mexicans and a Canadian for the three main officials. This is what they did today though – referee Benito Armando Archundia and assistant Arturo Velaquez are both officials from Mexico, joined by Canadian assistant Hector Vergara. The officials were from the CONCACAF federation as opposed to the CONMEBOL confederation whose jurisdication Sao Paolo come under, but it still seems a strange choice. Benitez is reported to have complained to FIFA president Sepp Blatter after the game.

Rafa said: "I am not happy with a lot of things from the game but I am very happy with my players. I would like to know what is a red card as Lugano should have been sent-off for the foul on Gerrard. Why did we only play three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game as there should have been at least five minutes? We know the goal from Sinama-Pongolle was a clear goal."
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Club World Cup Final Result: Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1

FIFA Club World Cup Final 2005
Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1 (Mineiro 27)

Result.
Half-time 0-1.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Warnock (Riise 79), Gerrard, Sissoko (Sinama-Pongolle 79), Alonso, Kewell, Garcia, Morientes (Crouch 85).
Subs: Dudek, Carson, Riise, Cisse, Pongolle, Crouch, Josemi, Traore, Hamann

Sao Paolo: Rogerio, Cicinho, Fabio Santos, Edcarlos, Lugano, Junior, Mineiro, Josue, Danilo, Amoroso, Aloisio (Grafite 75).
Subs: Grafite, Christian, Alex, Denilson, Fabao, Renan, Donizeti Flavio, Thiago, Richarlyson, Souza, Bosco, Roberto Flavio.
Booked: Lugano 57, Regerio 90

Stats (Liverpool first):
Shots: 21-4
On target: 8-2
Corners: 17-0
Bookings: 0-2
Fouls: 17-15
Offside: 7-2
Possession (%): 54-46

Continue reading Club World Cup Final Result: Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1

Club World Cup Final. Half-time: Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1

FIFA Club World Cup Final 2005

Half time: Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1 (Mineiro 27)

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Warnock, Gerrard, Sissoko, Alonso, Kewell, Garcia, Morientes.
Subs: Dudek, Carson, Riise, Cisse, Pongolle, Crouch, Josemi, Traore, Hamann

Sao Paolo: Rogerio, Cicinho, Fabio Santos, Edcarlos, Lugano, Junior, Mineiro, Josue, Danilo, Amoroso, Aloisio.
Subs: Grafite, Christian, Alex, Denilson, Fabao, Renan, Donizeti Flavio, Thiago, Richarlyson, Souza, Bosco, Roberto Flavio.

Continue reading Club World Cup Final. Half-time: Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1

Club World Cup Final Latest: Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1

FIFA Club World Cup Final.

Latest Score: Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1 (Mineiro 27)

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Warnock, Gerrard, Sissoko, Alonso, Kewell, Garcia, Morientes.
Subs: Dudek, Carson, Riise, Cisse, Pongolle, Crouch, Josemi, Traore, Hamann

Sao Paolo: Rogerio, Cicinho, Fabio Santos, Edcarlos, Lugano, Junior, Mineiro, Josue, Danilo, Amoroso, Aloisio.
Subs: Grafite, Christian, Alex, Denilson, Fabao, Renan, Donizeti Flavio, Thiago, Richarlyson, Souza, Bosco, Roberto Flavio.

Continue reading Club World Cup Final Latest: Liverpool 0 Sao Paolo 1

Club World Cup Final : Liverpool v Sao Paolo team news

Liverpool v Sao Paolo

Liverpool’s team for this morning’s Fifa Club World Cup Final sees Rafa Benitez make five changes to his semi-final side.

Steve Finnan has got over his jetlag and returns in place of Josemi at right-back. Steve Warnock gets the other full-back birth at the expense of Djimi Traore. Both the strikers from Thursday are on the bench, Cisse and Crouch making way for Morientes and Garcia. Harry Kewell is given the chance he’s been waiting for to make up for his Champions League final disappointment when injury cut his game short, Riise makes way.

Just one change for Sao Paolo – in defence, Fabio Santos is replaced by Fabao.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Warnock, Gerrard, Sissoko, Alonso, Kewell, Garcia, Morientes.
Subs: Dudek, Carson, Riise, Cisse, Pongolle, Crouch, Josemi, Traore, Hamann

Sao Paolo: Rogerio, Cicinho, Fabio Santos, Edcarlos, Lugano, Junior, Mineiro, Josue, Danilo, Amoroso, Aloisio.
Subs: Grafite, Christian, Alex, Denilson, Fabao, Renan, Donizeti Flavio, Thiago, Richarlyson, Souza, Bosco, Roberto Flavio.

Kick-off 10.20am GMT
Continue reading Club World Cup Final : Liverpool v Sao Paolo team news

Paco: Liverpool should be close to title every season

Paco Ayesteran, Liverpool’s first team coach and right-hand-man to Rafael Benitez, says that Liverpool are now getting to the level that a club of their stature should be at. Paco rarely speaks in public, leaving that to his friend and boss, but with the sad news that Rafa’s father had passed away earlier in the week perhaps Paco felt it was appropriate that he talk about the progress the Reds have made since they arrived.

First of all, Paco says that Liverpool’s Champions League win didn’t hide the fact that they were not up to scratch overall: “I wasn’t happy with our level at the end of last season, even though we won the Champions League. This year the improvement has been really big. We are close to arriving at the level a team like Liverpool should be. At minimum, we should be close to winning the Premiership and the Champions League every season. That should be expected from us.”

Paco also pointed out that the club can’t afford at any stage to think “we’ve done it,” – they’ve got to keep working, keep improving: “We still need to develop to go further. There is a combination of factors which will decide how far we go in the coming months and years. It’s a continuous process which, in football, never ends. There is always something to learn and areas to work on. We still need to improve the quality of our squad, for example. It’s not enough for us to move up a level and then stop, because the other teams will continue to get better.”

Continue reading Paco: Liverpool should be close to title every season

Kewell wants to make up for Turkey

Harry Kewell limped out of the Champions League final in May less than half-way through the first half. That injury left him needing surgery, and delayed his start to the season. Not only that but it made him feel like he wasn’t able to take part in the celebrations of Liverpool becoming European Champions for a fifth time. Now, as a result of winning that title, the Reds are in Japan trying to win the title of World Champions, and Kewell is desperate to be a part of that attempt. He said yesterday: “It would mean a lot to me to try and help Liverpool win this title. Any game you are part of you want to win, but yes, I suppose more so after Istanbul. It was great to be part of the team that won the European Cup and it was a great team experience, but on a personal note it was a nightmare.”

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Cisse: “I love Liverpool”

Djibril Cisse says he has no desire to leave European Champions Liverpool, despite approaches made through the media by Marseille.

Cisse has been reported on numerous occasions as being unhappy with life at Anfield, and earlier this month Marseille’s president Pape Diouf claimed talks about a loan deal were underway. Diouf said: "Cisse would be the ideal player for us to strengthen the team. Contacts exist and we are looking into a six-month loan deal with an option to extend if it works out well. Djibril is not happy with the amount he is playing at Liverpool. Marseille is in his heart and he has clearly expressed a desire to join us."

This was news that Rafael Benitez soon denied, asking why they would be willing to lose a striker that was eligible for the Champions League when they are still in the competition. Then earlier this week it was the turn of Marseille’s sports director Jose Anigo, who said they were still working on a deal: "Between Cisse and Marseille there is Liverpool and maybe they don’t want to let him go. At the moment we’re not getting anywhere but sometimes situations that look completely blocked change very quickly."

In fact it seems that Marseille are struggling to take no for an answer from Anfield, which is understandable given what Rafa has already said, but now the player has spoken out. He doesn’t want to move away from Anfield, he’s happy with his life in England, and feels the same about the Reds as most fans do: "I love Liverpool," he said yesterday. Even if he’s not getting as much time on the pitch as he’d like, he’s enjoying the overall experience at the club: "The mentality in the dressing room is different to France. It’s just friendly and happy. They all make jokes and make each other laugh."

Cisse is big friends with Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but it’s not just his compatriates that he gets on with. He says: "I have great friends and great team-mates and I’ve bought a great house. I just got married, so why would I want to leave?"

Now maybe it’s time Liverpool had a word with UEFA about Marseille’s repeated comments that seem aimed at unsettling Cisse.
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Benitez family mourn loss of Francisco, Rafael’s father

Liverpool’s success in Japan on Thursday and their recent run of excellent form in the league and in Europe has been acheived with manager Rafael Benitez facing difficulties of a different kind. It was revealed today that the Liverpool manager lost his father after illness. The news was broken to Benitez during the build-up to the game on Thursday.

Benitez says that although he had seen his father, Francisco, a number of times over the recent months of his illness, he wouldn’t be able to get home for the funeral. He intends to see his mother, along with the rest of his family, once Liverpool are back in Europe after the final on Sunday.

The news was broken by Liverpool’s official website. Benitez explained to them how his work with Liverpool has been helping him to come to terms with the loss: "I was in Madrid a couple of times because my father has been ill for the last few months. I was talking to my mother, sister and brother when my father died. We tried to go there but in Spain you do not have the time. They couldn’t delay the funeral. I couldn’t go so I decided to stay here."

Benitez says that he’ll be travelling to Spain next week: "I will go and see my mother next week so for me it is perhaps better to concentrate on working. You can be very upset but if you are working sometimes you can just think about your work. My mother is there though and I will try to be with her as soon as possible. The only thing I can do now is try to do my best for my team and think about my father."

Liverpool’s official site also says that there may be a minute’s silence held before Sunday’s final as a mark of respect to the passing of Rafael’s father. An announcement by FIFA is expected.

AnfieldRoad.com would like to join with all other Liverpool fans in expressing our sincere condolences to the Benitez family at this difficult time.
Continue reading Benitez family mourn loss of Francisco, Rafael’s father

Reds get Benfica in super-sixteen

The draw has been made for "Super Sixteen" stage of the Champions League, and the Reds have been drawn against Portugal’s Benfica.

This draw is certainly not the worst that Liverpool could have faced, although Benfica’s defeat of Manchester United to send the Old Trafford side out of the group stages shows that Liverpool must approach the game as professionally as ever.

The two other English sides in the competion have both been paired up with the giants of Spanish football. Arsenal will face Real Madrid, currently going through a bad patch, whilst Chelsea face Barcelona, currently going through an excellent spell.

There’s another British-Spanish clash lined up for the next round – Scottish side Rangers will face Villareal.

Full draw:

Chelsea v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Arsenal
Werder Bremen v Juventus
Bayern Munich v AC Milan
PSV Eindhoven v Lyon
Ajax v Inter Milan
Benfica v Liverpool
Rangers v Villarreal

Continue reading Reds get Benfica in super-sixteen