Real v Reds: Gerrard on bench, Xabi back


A day of speculation about the future of Rafa Benitez has meant speculation over Steven Gerrard’s fitness was almost forgotten about. But Liverpool’s captain won’t be risked from the kick-off tonight, having not played since a hamstring injury sustained against Everton.

He’ll be on the bench, but if the players in the starting line-up can all put their best performances in, he should be able to stay there all game.

Daniel Agger is injured and didn’t travel, so Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel get the centre-back roles. Sami Hyypia is on the bench having only just been restored to Liverpool’s Champions League squad. Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa are the full-backs.

Xabi Alonso is back in the eleven, having sat out Sunday’s draw through suspension, and will join Javier Mascherano in central midfield. How Rafa chooses to use Yossi Benayoun, Albert Riera and Dirk Kuyt remains to be seen, but we all know where Fernando Torres will play.

Like Torres, goalkeeper Pepe Reina grew up as a fan of Real’s rivals Atletico Madrid and will have extra reason to fight for a decent result tonight. Added to that, all the players need to respond to the recent speculation and pressure by making sure the critics have far less to talk about. And of course, the badge on their shirt should always add a massive incentive to perform.

Real have a familiar name on the bench, Jerzy Dudek is their reserve keeper. One-time Reds target Heinze is in the starting eleven, as is the renowned play-actor during his Chelsea days, Pepe Reina.

Real Madrid: 1 Casillas, 4 Sergio Ramos, 3 Pepe, 5 Cannavaro, 16 Heinze, 11 Robben, 8 Gago, 6 Diarra, 12 Marcelo, 20 Higuain, 7 Raul
Subs: 25 Dudek, 9 Saviola, 10 Sneijder, 14 Guti, 21 Metzelder, 22 Miguel Torres, 23 Van der Vaart

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 37 Skrtel, 23 Carragher, 12 Aurelio, 15 Benayoun, 14 Alonso, 20 Mascherano, 11 Riera, 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 2 Dossena, 4 Hyypia, 8 Gerrard, 19 Babel, 21 Lucas, 24 Ngog

Referee: Roberto Rosetti

9 thoughts on “Real v Reds: Gerrard on bench, Xabi back”

  1. Well played reds, controlled it throughout. Madrid looked poor, paartly due to us, but i think they lack ideas at the back.

    Nice to see Stevie back, hope Torres aint to bad. Its just not right having no reserve striker of any note to bring in…Rafa i still hold you responsible.

    Benitez fails again to clarify that he wants to stay. Again he should be clearing this up and giving a clear signal to both the fans and the players. But he wont.

    I hope he does go at the end of the season, but i do hope he wins us another Champions league trophy beefore he leaves, so that we can remember him with fond memories and not the memories of the stubborn, power seeking, arrogant man that he has become.

    Good performance boys, keep it up. And despite what our manager thinks that league title is still possible.

  2. Good performance. Solid throughout. Who’d have thought Benayoun would score with his head.

    Once again Rafa got it absolutely spot on.

    2nd in the league and putting people in their box again with this result, with so many predicting our demise without Stevie G and more so when Torres went off.

    You begin to wonder what it takes for Rafa critics to be won over.

    The club needs Rafa. It’s not like we’re in the position of Abramovitch where we can chop and change managers, paying them off at will.

    Rafa’s guaranteed us top four position, now top three I expect. With it Champions League. With it money, star players and fans who can then afford to criticise success and not failure.

    Critics, you might get your way. But you’ll rue it without an alternative top manager and the money he’ll demand for new players.

    Positive result. Positively behind the team. Here’s looking forward to the next leg and to finishing in our highest position in the league for some time!

  3. Great to put the Madrid Presidents words down his throat after beating them at the Bernabau. Disrespect The Reds at your own peril! Had Casillas not been on song (as usual) it could have been more.

    Assured passages of play and just the result we needed after the media hype today. We are getting towards the business end of the season and hopefully this will galvanise us to push on in the league.

    If we can stay close to Man U until Old Trafford anything is possible.

    I never have any doubts with Rafa’s tactics in Europe and a result to be very, very proud of tonight.

    Stevie G to score at the return leg at Anfield.

  4. Delighted with that. We looked quite comfortable throughout. Yossi is an example to the rest of the squad. I love a player that recognises an opportunity to perform and then goes and does it. I loved seeing Hyypia sharing in the celebrations when we scored. It’s all about cool heads with experience and character now.

    Regarding the league I feel that we have to win the next 2 and then beat United.

  5. Great job Pool! Great job Rafa!

    I hope its just Parry up to his old games stirring up the media lately. Bout time he was shown the door.

  6. midlands-red, you got it exactly right. it will be a pyrrhic victory indeed if the internal critics of rafa get their way and he leaves. viva la rafalution!

  7. Although I have to say hearing that Parry is to annouce his intention to leave at the end of the season is causing me a little worry too.

    There’s no doubt he and Moores ballsed up bringing Hicks and Gillett into the club but he is Liverpool through and through – and was tring to make up for his mistakes.

    I say to Rafa – who is clearly playing politics and not necessarily in his favour – be careful what you wish for. Hicks is as ruthless as they come and we, the fans, what a club that – in some way, yet to be defined – holds onto ‘The Liverpool Way’. Neither Hicks or Gillett have even a sense of what that is.

    So who replaces Parry – at this time of uncertainty. Ian Ayre, is he the man?

    What a terrible, terrible, public mess our club has become. The sooner we can get some unity back the better it’ll all feel.

    But at the moment, ok we won magnificently the other day, with a tricky 2nd leg to come, I feel lousy.

  8. well, ok midlands-red, your latest post is something i cant agree with. lets not get hyperbolic about hicks. he is a businessman. thats it. maybe a hard-nosed one, but lets not let the rhetoric of violence cloud things. i loved one of jims quotes, which i will paraphrase- liars lying about other liers. that is closer to what hicks is.

    i cant understand why rafa chooses to stay and operate under these crazy conditions. parry was responsible for his current employers, my sympathy for him begins and ends with that.

  9. @ Cory

    Not quite sure what you’re referring to with regards to: ‘rhetoric of violence’??? All peace and love over here, sir!

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