Friday, December 16, 2005

World Club Champs Part 3: So Japaneasy

saprissa
Liverpool V Saprissa - Yokohama

I must say that it was very charitable of the Costa Rican champions to travel all the way to Japan, just to provide Liverpool with some shooting practice in what was the European Champions’ final training session before Sunday's game, which will decide who really is the greatest team on the planet.

On the face of last night’s semi-final, the winners of the continental title staged by CONCACAF ( - apparently an abbreviation) would in truth not look out of place in the English Conference Division; and save for a few moments in the concluding stages of the game, rarely looked a side capable of scoring against the might of Merseyside. Not that notching against the tightest defence in Europe represents an easy task, of course. Liverpool’s resolute back five has now not been breached in eleven competitive games on the spin, surpassing the previous record of ten consecutive clean sheets set by Kenny Dalglish’s championship winning side of 1988.

Unbelievably, the side to clinch the record last night included full backs Traore and Josemi. When it comes to those two lunatics, hapless isn’t the word. The pair are simply a liability. We even toyed with the Central Americans by taking off influential centre-half Sami Hyypia before the end. By this time of course the match had been well and truly sewn up.

Liverpool started the game as though they meant business, with a well struck shot from that lean mean goal machine Peter Crouch helping secure a lead inside three minutes. The eight-foot-fourteen striker was impressive in a collectively commanding first half display, and could have added to his tally on numerous occasions, before El Capitano eventually did double Liverpool’s lead on thirty-two minutes, with a well-taken goal of his own. Without ever exerting any real effort, the Liverpool skipper completely ran the show, and the Purple Monsters looked in awe both of him and of the occasion for most of the first half.

Two thousand Scousers have made the trip over to Japan, and the loyal supporters were rewarded again in the second period with a second Peter Crouch goal just before the hour mark. The lads back home must have been throwing their English breakfasts in the air, as Crouch scored two in a game for the first time since his arrival at Liverpool. Although we willed him to get his hatrick, that elusive goal never came his way.

tokyo

The Kings of Europe were never really threatened by the team referred to as ‘the other Costa Rica’ (due to the number of internationals in the side), whose passing game was reminiscent of that of Everton’s under managers Harvey, Walker, Kendall, Royle, Smith and Moyes. As Liverpool eased to victory, the words “this is so Japaneasy” boomed around the stadium from the traveling support, who are as cocky as Benitez is humble.

We all know that Sunday's final showdown against Sau Paulo however, is sure to be the biggest test of that water-tight Liverpool defence the Liverpool manager has developed, since the league meeting with Chelsea earlier in the season. Let’s just hope we send the Brazilians home with their tale between their legs. For Liverpool have lost two of these finals to opponents from the Americas, and Rafa’s reds haven’t made the six-thousand mile round trip to see us make it three in a row. Surely, the time has come for the global crown to make its way to Anfield at long last.

*****
Champions League 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

(Matches to be played February 21/22 and March 7/8)

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