In a rematch of epic proportions, the formation Benitez will put out from the start needs careful consideration in the build up to the final.
Its fair to say that given the unpredictable nature of Benitez in relation to the tactics he employs for the team, determining who starts and where they play isn’t going to be easy. However when assessing the comments that the manager has made recently, I believe that starting line up in Athens will be as follows:
Finnan Carragher Agger Riise
Sissoko Mascherano Alonso
Subs: Dudek, Hyypia, Arbeloa, Pennant, Kewell, Crouch, Fowler
In essence this gives Liverpool the platform to dominate (or as Benitez likes to put it….”control”) the game.
Sissoko will provide the energy and could be given the job of man marking Seedorf. Mascherano will almost certainly mark Kaka out of the game and Alonso will seek to control the tempo i.e. by slowing it down, switching the play from right to left or vice versa and picking up the ball outside his own penalty area and quickly turning defence into attack. Also don’t be surprised to see him spray balls over and through the Milan defence to utilise Bellamy’s pace to get in behind. Whether it works or not depends on Bellamy and whether he can time his runs.
Gerrard will operate behind the front two but his primary role will be to get beyond both strikers and take shots on goal. For this to work Kuyt will have to hold the ball up effectively and lay it off for the on rushing Gerrard.
If these tactics don’t work we have enough players on the bench to change the game in our favour. All three of Kewell, Pennant and Crouch provide very good attacking alternatives.
In comparision, Milan’s XI will be familiar and of course the usual suspects Kaka and Seedorf will provide the threat in the final 3rd. However to put it plainly, Liverpool have more attacking alternatives on their bench then Milan. In fact, of Milan’s subs that I think will feature, only Serginho might cause us a problem.
Predictions are always hard to make, but whichever way Benitez decides to go in terms of player selection and formation I think it will most likely be a 1-0 or 2-1 win for Liverpool in the 90 mins.
NO PENALTIES THIS TIME!