Liverpool’s weekend victory over Tottenham panned out differently to how I predicted, albeit with the same overall result.
I felt Liverpool would have been capable of dominating the game more than they did as, despite a good recent run by Spurs, Brendan Rodgers has got them playing to their maximum these past few weeks, particularly in front of a packed Anfield.
Credit must go to Spurs as, even in defeat, they proved to be a good team. They will look back and wonder why they lost that match.
A couple of errors allowed Liverpool back into the game and, at 2-2 playing at home with the support they got, the Reds had the extra incentive to get over the line.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s foul on Luis Suarez was unnecessary and once you make a challenge like that, you’re asking the referee to make decision.
While it wasn’t a clear-cut foul, it was clumsy, there was contact and a penalty was given.
Separate to that incident, I think Suarez has taken his game on to a new level. He has found the composure he lacked in the first 18 months in England, when he was rushed and over ambitious. Now he has found a composure about his finishing. It shows the quality, desire and football intelligence of the man that he has been able to step up his game like that.
At some stage, Liverpool will have a decision to make – at some point one of the top European clubs will make a bid for him. I don’t think they should sell Luis for a penny less than £40 million, and the clubs being mentioned are certainly able to afford that.
Bayern spent 40m euros on a defensive midfielder, while re-emerging teams like Juventus are lacking one thing – a top-class goalscorer.
But it appears Suarez is really enjoying his time on Merseyside, and he says the right things about staying.
But who knows what’s going on in his head? One thing is that he will want to play in the Champions League, and Liverpool won’t be able to offer that for at least 18 months.
One thing playing in Liverpool’s favour is that Luis has a track record of loyalty – he stayed at Ajax for nearly four years, longer than he needed to with that extra half-season to help them out when they needed him.
He doesn’t seem to rush into decisions, and may well buy into the long-term project. With a couple of key signings, Liverpool will challenge for a top-four place next season, and if he’s convinced by the board and happy to wait a season for Champions League football, I see no reason why he wouldn’t stay.
Arsenal have little or no chance, unfortunately. With a 3-1 deficit, they will have to be gung-ho from the first minute, meaning Bayern will score. They always score.
Bayern are an excellent all-round team, probably the best in Europe at the moment. They are physical and well organised, have some fantastic creative players and even without the likes of injured pair Franck Ribery and Holger Badstuber, and suspended midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and defender Jerome Boateng, they will be formidable opposition as their system is so difficult to play against anyway.
Ribery’s absence could even play into their hands – Arjen Robben can’t get a game at the moment, and he will probably play on the left in the Frenchman’s place with Thomas Mueller on the right.
Arsenal only have three players near Bayern’s level, in Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott. The rest are simply not up to it.
Even though Bayern’s centre-halves are probably their weakest players, they are so well protected by Javi Martinez that no-one gets a look in.
They may have let two goals in at the weekend but, they 20 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga – 20 points clear of another team who have a chance of winning the Champions League in Borussia Dortmund, which shows you how good they are.
That also shows how far the Bundesliga has come in recent years after a dip at the turn of the Millenium.
I would like to see both Bayern and Dortmund in the final – it would be a real vindication of the great work Germany’s clubs and national federation have done since the early 2000s, when the nation’s football looked devoid of creativity and flair.
That seemed to spur them on to develop a different kind of player, the likes of Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Mario Goetze – agile, quick, skilful midfielders who can change games, ideally suited to modern football.
An all-German final would be testament to that progress, and it would be a cracking match too.
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