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Benitez deserves Euro respect

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Phil McNulty | 00:15 UK time, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

If Rafael Benitez believes respect is in short supply for his European record with Liverpool, the Champions League demolition of the Real Madrid's fallen Galacticos provides him with more than enough to fill the gap.

Benitez's claim is a red herring because he is always afforded huge credit for his expertise in Europe. It is simply countered by puzzlement at his difficulty in mastering the subtleties and peaks and troughs of a long Premier League campaign.

Liverpool's advance into the last eight of Champions League provided further compelling proof that Benitez has few peers as a strategist on this stage.

And if Benitez wanted to deliver specific evidence that he is worthy of the greatest respect for his achievements in this tournament, then Liverpool's stunning display at a typically raucous Anfield can be produced as Exhibit A.

Benitez outwitted Juande Ramos - who must be elated every time his plane leaves the tarmac in England after his harrowing time at Spurs - and gave the lie to his hometown critics in Madrid who still damn him for a perceived failure to produce attacking football.

He may not do it with as much regularity as Anfield would like, but he did it here and it was enthralling viewing from first to last.

The Champions League is his playground. This is the arena he knows best - but he will also know that unqualified respect will come with a Premier League triumph to place alongside his European success.

Even Benitez must wonder, in his more contemplative moments, how a team that has looked so timid so often at Anfield this season can throw off the shackles and play with such verve, freedom and expression as they did here.

It was a display that showed the best of Benitez - and yet in some ways also drove at the heart of the Benitez enigma.Gerrard and Torres are Liverpool's world class players

And central to it all, as well as a successful strategy from Benitez, was the partnership of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

These two world-class stars had Liverpool fans streaming out of Anfield harbouring hopes of a third win in this competition in Rome - and possibly a sixth crown - to go with successes there in 1977 and 1984.

Torres, likened to "a silver bullet in football boots" by one seasoned observer, was irresistible. The one-time icon of Atletico Madrid tortured the old enemy. The great Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro aged before our very eyes and poor old Pepe was a broken man inside half an hour.

Benitez was in low-key mood in his post-match inquest, respectful to a club he is constantly linked with and reluctant to lavish too much praise on Torres.

He took the refusal to single out individuals to great lengths, adding: "The kit man, doctors and physios were very good." Unusually in these instances, the tea lady did not merit a mention.

Ramos and Real were clearly suckered into believing Liverpool would lie back on the ropes and hold on to what they had, namely a 1-0 lead from a tight first leg in the Bernabeu.

Imagine their surprise then when Liverpool, in footballing terms, flew out of the corner and banged them right on the chin. Real reeled and never recovered from Liverpool's opening salvo.

Real complained, with some justification, about the legality of Liverpool's opening two goals when Torres appeared to foul Pepe and Gabriel Heinze's handball was questionable.

But to dwell on these matters and suggest they influenced the overall outcome would be straw-clutching by Real and doing a disservice to Liverpool, whose margin of victory was only kept in relatively manageable proportions by the brilliance of goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Real, Casillas apart, were an embarrassing shambles of a team. If past speculation is true and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo has a dream to play for them, he really must think again.

What useful purpose could it possibly serve his football (I stress the word football) career to join a team as poor as this and a club as unstable as this? On current evidence United are light years ahead of Real.

Sir Alex Ferguson, at the height of last summer's speculation about Real and Ronaldo, referred to them as "that mob". To call them "a mob" at Anfield would be to lavish glowing praise on them - not to mention deliver a very harsh verdict on a mob.

Liverpool won by four - but you could double the tally and it would offer up a more realistic measure of their supremacy.

If Benitez was cool in victory, Anfield was in ferment as the frustrations of so many Premier League games were blown away along with Real.

Liverpool are in the last eight and their excellence in Europe this season begs a simple question.

Can they win the Champions League?

On this viewing, albeit against a Real side that offered up a grim betrayal of their club's great traditions and almost wore the white shirts as flags of surrender, yes Liverpool can.

Benitez has the competition off to a fine art. He can organise containment and Liverpool's performance against Real showed they can adapt and attack.

In Torres and Gerrard they have the match-winners the Champions League requires. Benitez and Ramos both talked about "small details" changing matches - they can provide those defining moments.

Liverpool, in my opinion, will continue to miss out on the Premier League and Benitez's approach is part of that problem, but in Europe they are the team no-one wants to draw.

Benitez and Liverpool can be enigmatic and infuriating when it comes to claiming that elusive title, but put them on the European stage and both team and manager find a natural home.

Do not bet against them.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Sorry the Euphoria sweeping all the Liverpool media is completely unfounded. The officials completely took away any chances that Real Madrid had. With the game lost Real Madrid gave up. On a level playing field Liverpool would have probably edged the game. However, the score line was a direct result of the worst officiating I've ever seen in the Champions league. Don't get carried away you are not that good.

  • Comment number 2.

    Liverpool with Gerrard & Torres fully fit (or close to it) can match anyone in Europe. We simply don't have enough quality in depth to sustain a title challenge in the Premier League and this is partly where we fall down. That and some questionable tactics from Benitez

    But last night just gave another example/reminder that Rafa rules in Europe. As you said Phil, Real went in thinking Liverpool would sit back so Rafa had Liverpool attack from minute one. Rafa has more confidence to do that in Europe for some reason. It was a very well deserved victory and I doubt even Man U & Barcelona will want Liverpool in the next round.


  • Comment number 3.

    good analysis phil, but methinks you 'out' to use a spell checker!

  • Comment number 4.

    You cast the line and reeled me in. I actually thought you were going to praise Liverpool and Benitez. I should have known better and the final few paragraphs didnt disappoint.

    As with Inter last season, Barca the season before and Juventus in 2005 its not that Liverpool out class a team is it, its just that the team is poor. Add to the Utd earlier this season and Chelsea twice and you would think that by the accounts of all the press hacks Liverpool could never beat a top team at the peak of its powers.

    Its not a surprise though, I actually thought as soon as the match finished that all the analysis on telly and in the press would make references to Real being poor and not simply that Liverpool didnt let them play. Need I not remind you that Inter Milan were much worse two weeks ago against Utd than Real were last night, but there was no mention of that. The headlines were all about how well Utd played and no mention that Inter looked like Blue Square Premier side and couldnt string three passes together even when not under pressure. What was the score again? They didnt dispatch them 4-0 did they?

    If Liverpool were to do the clean sweep in a season I am pretty sure it would be down to luck, and other sides having an "off season" accourding to the likes of yourselves.

    Oh and for the record it is only embittered opposition fans that think the 1st goal was a foul. I believe as an Evertonian you fit into that catagory.

  • Comment number 5.

    Rockylegendliveson - You really are scraping the barrel to detract from a fine Liverpool performance. We could/should have been 2-0 up before the first one went in but Cassilas was on fine form. We had more chances before the 2nd one went in so don't start looking for excuses. Liverpool battered Madrid from first minute to last

  • Comment number 6.

    Well Liverpool never likes things easy for sure! At least since the 1990's. They are at their best when they've got a mountain to climb. Remember Istanbul? This is why [some people will fal from their seats reading this] I would not bet against them winning the EPL this season. Yes. This Season. There are still 12 matches to go and frankly speaking, Man Utd hasn't been quite convincing lately. They got to beware tonight. And an elimination from the CL coupled with Liverpool's rampant form [Real were not poor. They were outclassed by a much better team] might be the latest twist in this EPL season. A win for Liverpool on Saturday, which seems quite possible, will sow seeds of doubt in United. The performance against Real is going to be a big turning point. Come on Inter! Come on you Reds! YNWA!

  • Comment number 7.

    Liverpool don't have the smugness of Man a Hammers supporter I'd love to see them lift the Champ's Cup again.

  • Comment number 8.


    I think you would win the straw clutching gold medal there, beating Phil into a close 2nd mind.

    The referee got the penalty wrong, I think all Liverpool fans will admit that, but apart from that I cannot remember any other very poor decisions made. The 1st goal wasnt a foul unless now a defender falling over under their own weight with a striker next to them counts as a foul, in which case Rooney probably wont score a goal ever again without it being disallowed.

  • Comment number 9.

    Congratulations to Liverpool and Benitez on a fine performance and result. They really did blow madrid (and some of their detractors) off the park. Regardless of the dubious nature of the first 2 goals, this is irrelevant. Casillas was outstanding and Liverpool would have got 4 anyway. It sets up nicely the clash on Saturday although as a United fan, I'll gladly take a win against Inter and defeat against Liverpool if I had to pick. But which Liverpoool team will show up. To mount a serious title challenge, Benitez needs another 2 WORLD class players, and more regular performances from his youngsters (Lucas, Babel).

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't think last's night win was down to tactical astuteness from Benitez. It was simply down to attitude and application from the players. They got after Real from the start. I think they got a bit of luck with the first two goals. If either incident had happened at the other end it would have been a free out for the first goal and no way would a penalty been given for the second. Real gave up after that. There will be much sterner tests to come for Liverpool but the attitude was right last night. They will be tough to crack over 2 legs but I think they will have to have lady luck on their side from here on if they are to win it out.

  • Comment number 11.

    Job Done! United here we come!

  • Comment number 12.

    "Even Benitez must wonder, in his quieter moments, how a team that has looked so timid so often at Anfield this season can throw off the shackles and play with such verve, freedom and expression in Europe."
    +++Maybe its one of the few times that Torres (who played with a pain killing injection) and Gerrard actually played together. It hasn't happened very often this year+++
    "Real complained, with some justification, about the legality of Liverpool's opening two goals when Torres appeared to foul Pepe and Gabriel Heinze's handball was questionable."

    +++ Wrong. Torres touch was of the merest brushes which Pepe made a meal of and blamed that in an attempt to mask his own inadequacy (watch the replays). Heinze's appeal may have had more of a base for argument.+++

    +++Phil- Real Madrid may well have been poor. But they were made to look that way by a rampant Liverpool side who clinically disected a team that had a superb recent record in Spain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Liverpool cannot win the EPL because they don't have the squad. Two injuries and they're screwed, unlike United. What they can manage is to rest people for Europe, where they can put out the best team each time.
    Last 5 years show Liverpool's only hopes for trophies is in cup competitions for that reason.

  • Comment number 14.

    If they play with the energy and passion they started with last night - they can beat anybody. In the prem the away game is spot on, the performance last night is how Man Utd attempt to play at home all season. Masterstroke from Benitez - everyone expected a tight performance but this was far from it. Why he doesnt let them play like that at home in the prem I dont know.

  • Comment number 15.

    This was, at last, a performance by Liverpool worthy of huge praise. You have what it takes to beat Man Utd I feel (in Europe), but will you...? Real Madrid are a shambles though. I suppose they're already looking ahead to the next trainer but to be honest the whole running of the club stinks from top to bottom. It should not be forgotten that even in their mini golden period from 1998 to 2002 some of the performances were just as clueless as the one last night. I seem to remember them being thumped by Bayern a couple of times in one of those seasons they actually went on to win the trophy. Oddballs.

  • Comment number 16.

    Regarding Heinze: the referee could easily have sent him off - he obviously thought he handballed on purpose (although replay shows arm movement but shoulder contact) - so at least the ref saw sense there

  • Comment number 17.

    Sorry Phil, great blog, but, in my opinion, you've got the wrong end of the stick. I know you're a Liverpool fan (at least that's what most of 606 think ;)) but surely you must recognise that the first two goals should not have counted. Yes, Liverpool dominated and deserved their win, but not to that extent, the third goals had a touch of class and the fourth was scored against a team that had no fight in them anymore.

    Yes, Liverpool deserved the win quite rightly, but this doesn't speak of their CL credentials, because they won't always have biased referreing, and indeed, Gerrard and Torres won't always be on fire, where would Liverpool have been if those 2 didn't show up last night?

  • Comment number 18.

    The first goal should have been a free to Real (Torres pulled at Pepe's shirt) and the 2nd was NEVER a penalty. Liverpool then out hassled and subsequently outplayed a team that had given up after 20 mins.
    Fact is Liverpool do not put in performancess like this on a regular basis and now because they've done it once to a rubbish Real side we have Liverpool fans shouting from the rooftops - give us more respect bla bla bla -its pathetic.
    This is the first time all year that Liverpool have played anything like attractive entertaining football. Why not do it every week. Why not to Stoke, Fulham, West Ham, MAn City, Wigan, Hull - Everton in the FA cup???
    I'll tell you why, its because Liverpool are a hugely limited side made up with a bunch of 'average' players (except for Reina, Carragher, Gerrard and Torres) with a negative manager who STILL doesnt know his way around the Premier League after 5 years.
    Little wonder Liverpool can put in performances in Europe in March when they're already out of every other competition by that time.
    So stop deluding yourselves Liverpool fans - ye will win nothing unless ye approach every game like last nights game and TRY to 'outplay' teams on a regular Basis. With that manager and that limited squawd he keeps harping on about it aint gonna happen anytime soon.
    Enjoy this moment in the sun
    Its as good as it will ever get

  • Comment number 19.

    Ribbo - Benitez is building his team and this is taking time. Fergie has had 15 years of updating his squad and so can trial players far more easily. Liverpool have the mental attitude to deal with teams and yes they are a little short but if players like Jay Spearing can force themselves through - he showed some amazing touches and didnt seem fazed by playing Real Madrid - its only a amtter of time.

  • Comment number 20.

    As good as Liverpool may have been last night, Real were extremely poor. As with every season, Liverpool's champions league run glosses over their failings in the Premiership and it's the only reason Benitez still has his job. I don't understand why this warrants the huge amount of praise for Benitez, Utd have won the champions league twice in last 10 years, Liverpool only once and Utd manage to compete on all domestic fronts at the same time.

  • Comment number 21.

    Ha Ha Phil suggests that Benitez' comments about his European record are a red herring & then goes on beautifully to prove exactly the opposite with an article that could have been entitled ' A masterclass in damning with faint praise'.

    Lets be honest , if Utd or Arsenal produced a performance like last night , newspapers would be bringing out special editions & there would be documentaries scheduled for tonight on tv. In Arsenal's case , I would also suggest no mention of Arsene's recent seasons premier league travails would even be mentioned despite being behind Benitez in 2 of the last 3 seasons & probably this season as well , even though he has vastly more resources to use should he wish.

    The penalty was ridiculous , but we were already running riot by then & Casillas apart , Real looked beaten at that stage anyway.

    I suggest you save your energy to queue up for your semi final ticket Phil as it could be a long wait before you get another chance.

  • Comment number 22.

    It was a fantastic performance last night and fully deserved in my eyes. Real were not poor by any means and at times in the 2nd half were passing the ball around like Liverpool weren't even there. Casillas showed what a fantastic goalie he is, unfortunately for them their defence wasn't up to the task of coping with players with pace.

    It does frustrate me a little as an LFC fan that we can't always transfer this sort of form to the EPL but we don't have the financial resources of Man U who can afford to spend £16m on 2 serbian kids and £30m on Berbatov in the same season when we've only spent that much in the same season once, ever! I agree with the post that we need another 2 top players but unless we sell the club I can't see it happening.

    I would get rid of Lucas though and probably get another right sided midfielder and a striker if we could.

  • Comment number 23.

    Rockylegendliveson - did you see the match? Liverpool possibly should have been 2-0 in the first 10 minutes but for 2 amazing saves by Casillas! Yes the penalty was lucky but you make your own luck - but even at that point Real Madrid could have scored 3 a la 'pool in 2005 - i remember on many occasions Manutd winnging from 2-0 down in the last 10 minutes. If Real Madrdi gave up early thats there problem.

  • Comment number 24.

    4. At 07:59am on 11 Mar 2009, TalksRubbish-Clooneys a clone wrote:
    You cast the line and reeled me in. I actually thought you were going to praise Liverpool and Benitez. I should have known better and the final few paragraphs didnt disappoint.
    If Liverpool were to do the clean sweep in a season I am pretty sure it would be down to luck, and other sides having an "off season" accourding to the likes of yourselves.
    Oh and for the record it is only embittered opposition fans that think the 1st goal was a foul. I believe as an Evertonian you fit into that catagory.

    I sometimes think that if Benitez won the lot, it still wouldnt be quite good enough for some.

  • Comment number 25.

    Fair play to Liverpool. I watched the match last night and it was refreshing to see some intent from more than just Gerrard, Alonso and Torres. It was a shame that the Galacticos were allowed to get into it a little in the last half hour but by that time the game was won. I just hope the game on Saturday sees the Liverpool we saw last night and not the one that lost to Middlesbrough a couple of weeks ago. That way there might actually be a match on the cards.

  • Comment number 26.

    The importance of being Didier.


    I can only assume you dont watch a lot of football. It isnt a none contact sport, if you believe that to a foul I suggest you stick to netball you bunch of idiots.

  • Comment number 27.

    To post 24

    I sometimes think that if Liverpool won the lot playing 'that' rubbish unattractive style of football thst i'd stop watching football altogether so THANK GOD its never going to happen.

    PS - Do you REALLY think Benitez is that good of a manager???

  • Comment number 28.

    No one can be near to liverpool. We are champions forever even if we don't win cup. But this Fan of Liverpool is feeling as a loser as I was not registered in university of liverpool but I m about to study in a french university. However good it might be but the mere thought of it make me feel alone. Hope to find Liverpool fans there. What is the probability that it is so?

  • Comment number 29.

    to post 23

    shesh _666, whan did ManUtd come from 2-0 down to win in the last 10 minutes? Apparantly this happened many times....what are you talking about?
    As for Liverpool possibly being 2-0 up after 10 minutes - ye werent because Casillas made saves, isnt that his job??
    It could have been 2-1 from schneiders free kick too put, oops, Reina made a save!
    Real were rubbish and Liverpool will not perform like that again this season

  • Comment number 30.

    Not a bad start - accused of being a Liverpool fan and then told to start queueing for my Everton semi-final ticket, all in the space of the first 30 posts. Amusing.

    After the final whistle at Anfield last night, the question being asked
    by most Liverpool fans was: "Why can't we play like that in the league?"

    In fact, it was being asked almost unanimously and it is a very fair query.

    I am not damning Benitez with faint praise. I have outlined my total respect for his European record, but it is fair to set last night's performance in the context of so many others in the league - and against those they have produced against Europe's best teams in recent seasons.

    Did it not cross the minds of those who rightly enjoyed last night why Liverpool cannot produce that sort of freedom, passion and positive approach in the Premier League?

    I also say clearly that I genuinely feel Liverpool can win the Champions League this season. They might win the Premier League if they could produce that level of performance on a more consistent basis, particularly at Anfield where they have drawn so many games this season.

    And as for talking Liverpool down by stating Real were poor, I do not think you have to be one of football's great analysts to state that on last night's performance.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think Phil is correct (get the asperin i must be ill).

    Real were beaten by the better team over 2 LEGS !!!! Liverpool tactically won the first game by not going out to attack a good spanish team at home, in last nights game they took the game to Real Madrid when they expected Benitez to sit back and defend the away goal at the start.

    Liverpool took the game to them when they weren't expecting it. The first goal wasn't a foul as Pepe played for the foul instead of staying on his feet and defending the ball. The second was less clear cut, it POSSIBLY hit his shoulder but again WHY move your arm up towards a ball played that high into the box in the first place.

    After they both went in Real then just gave up, WHY? Obviously no pride or passion when faced with adversity.

    Anyway good performance by Liverpool, will the REAL, Real Madrid please stand up!!!

    P.S. By the way I am in NO WAY a fan of Liverpool or the Premiership, I just like good football

  • Comment number 32.

    "If Rafael Benitez believes respect is in short supply for his European record with Liverpool, the Champions League demolition of the Real Madrid's fallen Galacticos provides him with more than enough to fill the gap."

    No, Arsenal ended the Galatico era back in 2006 when Real had players like Zidane, Beckham, Figo, Ronaldo, Robinho and Roberto Carlos.

  • Comment number 33.

    To post 29

    I believe Utd were 2-0 in their semi-final against Juventus in 1999 then eventually won 3-2 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate.

  • Comment number 34.

    to post 26 TalksRubbish-Clooneys a clone

    If pepe had done that very thing to Torres and put his hand on his back Torres would have looked for a penalty. Pulling at a defenders ahirt when he is 15yards from goal trying to clear the ball is a free kick, end of.
    So, have you anything else to add besides 'football isnt a none contact sport'? Any more cliches perhaps?? Or any more assumptions that i dont watch football??
    My comments about Liverpool are spot on because i've been watching them for years.
    They are terrible to watch and only deliver this type of performance once or twice a season.
    Mc Nulty and everyone else who isnt a biased Liverpool fan can see this so take your blinkers off and wake up little boy

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    to post 33 Pulpgrape

    Yes thats correct but it was 2-2 at half time in Turin which put United ahead in the tie on away goals. The 3rd United goal was scored by andy cole with 6 mins remaining

    They were never 2-0 with 10 minutes to go

  • Comment number 37.

    How predictable that the detractors are out in force after that performance. Liverpool were awesome last night, completely sweeping aside Real Madrid. To claim it was due to the officiating is laughable. Heinze was very unlucky with the penalty decision (although, from the linesman's position it could have looked like his arm thrust towards the ball) but if it wasn't for Casillas, it could have been 8-0.

    If United or Arsenal had done that to Real Madrid, we'd never hear the end of it. The papers, Sky Sports etc, would be gushing over them profusely. Yet, how many of the reports today will tinge the praise for Benitez with another dig at our league form? (Wenger is immune from any sort of analysis of poor league placings, it seems)

    There are still tweaks needed before we can properly challenge for the Premier League, but there's no doubting our ability in Europe - or that Benitez is a master in the Champions League.

    Rafa is on a hiding to nothing with the press in this country. Ferguson and Wenger are lauded over, while Rafa is disrespected at every turn.

    However, not even the pathetically biased and deluded comments here from people like Rockylegendliveson can detract from another great night in the Champions League.

  • Comment number 38.

    Simsey33 and Talksrubbish

    Everyone has got an opinion and has the right to express it, so lets not get into the slanging matches shall we. If you don't agree with someone fair enough but then explain why you don't in footballing terms/ tactics whatever

    Don't lower yourselves down to the lowest level!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Teams in England according to Phil McNulty

    1 Man Utd
    2 Chelsea
    3 Liverpool
    4 Arsenal

  • Comment number 40.

    Comment: Two injuries and they're screwed, unlike United.

    No, injuries to their best two players and their screwed. That's like most teams. How would Utd cope if both Rooney and Ronaldo were out for a sustained period? They would drop points, but how many times has that happened in the last three seasons? How many games did Henry miss in 2003-04? Man U have been lucky that their injuries have been to players who CAN be replaced. Similarly when Liverpool dominated the eighties how many games did Rush miss? If Torres had been fully fit all season Liverpool would be neck and neck with Utd.

  • Comment number 41.

    I have to say well done to Liverpool fans today after that battering you gave Madrid yesterday... Your team showed great spirit and hunger to keep the pressure on Real right from the word go. Great stuff.

    Its all making for a classic game at Old Trafford... Can't wait!

  • Comment number 42.

    I was pretty critical of Liverpool in the first leg of this contest, i thought they were only slightly less bad than Real and the hype over their win in Madrid was being hyped.

    What i saw last night was an awsome display by a team that was more than just gerrard and torres. THe back 4 played well and restricted RM to just a couple of chances, the wing backs played very well in attack as well as defence with Arbeloa the pick of them. Alonso and Masherano in midfield ran their hearts out and made sure that RM couldnt settle or have any time on the ball.

    The pace of Babel had the defence turning continuously and this set the platform for Gerrard and Torres to show what they can do.

    It was a fine team performance that was everything the 1st leg wasnt. I think over 2 legs Liverpool would fancy themselves as favourites with anyone but in a one off final i think it depends on who scores first. If they go behind they turn it on but i feel if they nick a lead with time on the clock they have a tendancy to sit back which could be their undoing.

    Real were poor last night but this week i think it was entirely down to Liverpool.

  • Comment number 43.

    Liverpool were a joy to watch last night, I've been waiting all season to watch us play like that. I'd love us to win it again. I would want to avoid United until the Final, but clearly, when we play like that, we can beat any team in the World.
    My only complaint is that if we can play like that, how on Earth do we lose points to Hull, Fulham, Middlesborough etc?!


  • Comment number 44.

    I absolutely agree with Phil's analysis.

    In Europe Benitez excels and Liverpool are feared.

    In the Premier League he stil just doesn't get "it" and as a result Manchester United remain in front. I still feel that of the so called "big 4" Liverpool are the ones least likely to win the title next year.... yes, even less likely than Arsenal. Becuase Rafa just doesn't learn from his domestic mistakes, he's made the same ones the last 3 years.

    So Liverpool fans must ask the question. Are they happy with the Champions League final every 3 years and the odd good domestic cup run - but finishing 3rd or 4th in the league?

    Or is their desire not to see United trounce their League titles record such that they would sacrifice a man who has delivered for them so spectacularly in Europe?

    I openly admitt that is a difficult question to answer.

  • Comment number 45.

    I salute Liverpool's courage and determination in seeing off a once dominant force in European football. I am a Manchester United Diehard fan but we see things differently. Although I dint get to see the game, I watched Chelsea instead but the result is a fantastic achievement, congratulations Liverpool!

    England should open their eyes and see good coming to the country sports in particular football. I see english clubs in the quaterfinals and this speak volumes of the quality of football played in the EPL. Suffice to say all the money, time, energy, dedication,discipline, loyalty of personnels in charge, media fenzy and occassional hypes have not all been in vain. EPL is a ruling class,sadly enough some britons dont believe this but we see from outside (I am from Africa).

    However the rivalry between local English clubs will continue fiercely here and there, United Quintuple season will never end until it is firmly achieved. Rivalry amongst fans here are very great you may not have any idea. Brave Liverpool but we await you on saturday.

    Listen England, rise up your time has come!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Liverpool played excellently, nobody can deny them that. Whether the first two should have stood is irrelevant as it still could have been anything from 2-0 to 4-0. Their passing was incisive, the tackling ferocious and Torres inspired.
    However, Real Madrid were appalling. Worse than appalling. I have never seen a Champions League second round team so slow of touch and mind and so bereft of ideas. Was that really Wesley Sneijder out there? Perhaps he had the "Samson effect" from shaving even his frantically receding locks. Lassana Diarra was woeful, not fit to lace the boots of a Top 4 PL midfielder, let alone command a £24m fee. I was going to say it was like watching a Championship side last night, but that is doing a disservice to Burnley, Wolves et al. Frankly, Sporting Lisbon could have beaten them last night.

  • Comment number 47.


    I swear it was clean!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    Sorry to break it to you avinash but there are only 10 games to go in the EPL, 11 for Utd. It's over. As usual you can carry on with concentrating on Europe which you have an opportunity to win but don't kid yourself in thinking this result means Liverpool are superior to Utd cause they simply aren't.

  • Comment number 49.

    I REALLY wish people would stop saying Benitez is the master of the Champions League. Where is the evidence for this? He has won it ONCE. Ferguson has won it TWICE. It's like saying Harry Redknapp is the master of the FA Cup. Someone care to explain?

  • Comment number 50.

    Fairly sure they said last night that the draw is a week on friday.

  • Comment number 51.

    There really are different views. I am not a Liverpool fan but I think the penalty for the 2nd goal was fair. There was a definite raising of the defender's arm to cause a big deflection. Such advantage should not be ignored. May be such penalties are not always awarded but ought to be.

    The first goal should have been disallowed. Torres did fell the speeding defender and then took unfair advantage to score. The defender certainly did not fall under his own momentum.

    Phil you have written a fine article but I feel your line "On this viewing, albeit against a Real side that offered up a grim betrayal of their club's great traditions and almost wore the white shirts as flags of surrender, yes Liverpool can." is a bit petty and snide. The part between the two commas need not have been there.

  • Comment number 52.

    Very good article. Liverpool played with class and pride something that Liverpool fans have been missing the last few months.

    However one comment I have to disagree with is:

    'Liverpool, in my opinion, will continue to miss out on the Premier League and Benitez's approach is part of that problem, but in Europe they are the team no-one wants to draw.'

    With the high possibility of Liverpool having three other English sides in the last 8 surely Liverpool would only be a bad draw for the other European sides?

    We have seen that Benitez lacks creativity in the Premier League, against strong tactical and creative sides so would Liverpool really be a bad team to draw for the other Premier League sides?

    Or do you think that as it is for a European game Liverpool would still have the edge? All Liverpools recent 'troubles' in the head prehaps?

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    @simsey33 #27

    You obviously have as much knowledge of the game as a Sumatran orangutan. How you can say the way Liverpool played last night was rubbish and unattractive is quite frankly astonishing.

    No-one wants Liverpool in the next round and that includes Chelsea and United (assuming of course, they are in the draw).


  • Comment number 55.

    'Wenger is immune from any sort of analysis of poor league placings, it seems'

    Oh dear where have you been for the majority of the season?

  • Comment number 56.

    I have no idea what Phil has against Ryan Babel..

    From the live text update to his match coverage report, he has gome the extra length to say Liverpool fans don't fancy Babel much.

    Take it from me. We do. If you had seen the demolition of ManU on the 13th of September 2008 by the Wind of Anfield, you wouldn't say that again.

    Babel may not be at his best at the moment, but as Mourinho would put it, He just hasn't got enough successes yet to match his talent....

    And hey, He'll neva walk alone.

  • Comment number 57.

    If United or Arsenal had done that to Real Madrid, we'd never hear the end of it. The papers, Sky Sports etc, would be gushing over them profusely. Yet, how many of the reports today will tinge the praise for Benitez with another dig at our league form? (Wenger is immune from any sort of analysis of poor league placings, it seems)


    i cant speak for Wenger, but maybe Fergie would not receive the feint praise tinged with a dig at league form as United try to win both trophies, and are usually doing well in the league. For example a couple of years ago when we beat Roma 7-1.

    Another good blog Phil, i love the way you can always write an article that will receive so much abuse from fans of so many different clubs, and not let it bother you. I fail to see the anti-Benitez tinge to this article that so many see, or perhaps imagine to see now as they believe it is always there - for example, even when the article is not about Liverpool, so many of their fans come on here and express their "shock" that you did not get in a dig on Benitez.........!!

    My feeling on the decisions last night, i didnt think the first was a foul, pepe didnt get much of a push/shirt pull (probably a lot less than he would give out at a defensive corner) and should have done far more to clear the ball - i think he should be told to worry about the ball before trying to get a foul out of nothing. Second one definitely not a penalty (and fail to see, as someone commented earlier how Heinze could have been sent off for deliberate handball there?) but it didnt particularly affect the result. Liverpool were very good, which made Real play poorly.

  • Comment number 58.

    Liverpool were exceptional regardless of whether Real were poor or bcos of poor officiating! I've never seen Liverpool play like this before. They were hungry & determined & i fear the team who draw them in the next round, hope it's not Chelsea.

    Chelsea were poor in the 1st half but knew only a draw would see us thru!
    Essien coming back looks very promising. Maybe we can stage a real challenge on the league title & push utd all the way now.

    Hope Inter whip utd tonite!

  • Comment number 59.

    Having watched the match, and the replays, and the highlights, with more replays it is easy to say Real looked rubbish because Liverpool played so well.

    On the subject of the first goal, Pepe was NOT fouled. If any one who says otherwise had a goal like that disallowed for the team they support they would not be happy!

    Penealty was def a mistake though, but i can understand how the linesman got it wrong. Another example of video replay ref required on crucial decisions, even if to confirm the decision on the pitch is correct.

    I can actually believe Liverpool can win EPL if they beat ManU at the weekend, but only in ManU hava a "blip"

  • Comment number 60.

    "Cristiano Ronaldo has a dream to play for them, he really must think again."

    Phil, don't you think on the contrary? If Real Madrid are at a low, and Ronaldo wants to play for them (because of their history and culture) then it's the perfect time for him to move. He loves the spotlight and he could be the man to lead their resurgance?

  • Comment number 61.

    I have to take my hat off to Liverpool as I thought they were sensational last night, and as a United supporter I would would agree that there not the team that I would want to meet if we get through to the quarter finals. But I dont think Liverpool will be able to play like that against the other 3 english teams , simply because Anfield does not hold the fear as it does to other european teams, because the other english teams are now used to it and have played there so often before.

    I think Liverpool will be keeping there fingers crossed and hoping to miss the english teams because the other european teams do fear anfield.

    On the issue of Benitez getting Respect, he has to earn it, and if he wins the european cup he will get it, but semi finals and finals dont mean anything in less you win it. 3 years without a trophy if he fails to land the big one. Its nice to be consistent and being ranked number 1 in europe is nice, but Tim Henman was consistent in tennis but never one the big one.

    I think Rafa really needs to deliver this trophy as he has put the pressure on him self demanding respect.

  • Comment number 62.

    Real were poor, brill win for Liverpool but I cant beleive how bad Real Madrid are now.

  • Comment number 63.

    As a UTD supporter I have to say that any critcism of LFC last night is ridiculous, they completely dominated.
    The only questionable decision was the Heinze one, if Casillas was not on such good form then the score would have been more.
    Benitez always seems to get it right in Europe and Phil is correct, should we progress tonight I would prefer not to draw them.
    EPL is different, for Saturday I am not worried just cautious.

  • Comment number 64.

    Where is Nikosgb??
    No Where to be seen!!!

    Last night was an astonishing match between one giant and one former giant in European football. We were simply breath-taking from the off.
    Torres looked the sharpest he's been all season, Alonso and Mascherano were dominent as usual, Babel looked full of confidence (I just wish he got a goal), Kuyts' work rate again was second to none and Steven Gerrard was just Steven Gerrard.
    Taking nothing away from our performance last night though, which if it had not been for Casillas, double figures were possible, Real Madrid were shocking. So shocking I'd be very worried. They just did not have the hunger for the game, with the exception to Iker and maybe Raul. Their team were second best to almost every 50/50. It was very embarrassing.
    Last night just showed the quality of our Premier League against supposedly the best in the business from Europe. On Real's showing home and away Ronaldo would be a fool to join Madrid, unless it was Atletico.
    Credit though should go to the players last night more so than Benitez. This is a massive confidence boost going to OT, one we needed. I have a feeling though that United will walk it tonight against Inter as they are a smidgin better than Madrid! if they do, what a mouth watering game Saturday will be. COME ON LIVERPOOL!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    "We could/should have been 2-0 up before the first one went in but Cassilas was on fine form."

    Could/should haves are great aren't they. United could/should have thrashed Inter, but the luck just didn't go that way. I'm sure you were agreeing with those sentiments last week.

    And yes, this Real side are a shadow with a lot of aging past it stars. As much as you'd like to claim that performance was against one of the best, it just wasn't. They don't have any great gems, where Liverpool have two of the best.

    Without those two, however, they are much more the uncreative side we've seen quite often again this season.

    The performance was good, but lets not get carried away. If that had been against Bayern would you expect the press to gush to the same degree? Yet Bayern are better by far than Real.

  • Comment number 66.

    I thought it was an excellent performance , you can only beat what's infront of you, and no matter how poor Real were (and they were) , Liverpool still put in a good display.

    For the refereeing, the first wasnt a foul. I said the Raphael/Pederson thing wasnt a foul, this was the exact same thing. Both players too busy looking for a freekick when staying on their feet may have made all the difference.

    The penalty desicion was farcical, but then that isnt Liverpool's fault.

    What it says to me is this, no matter how much its refuted, the fact that a team so poor can go 2 months unbeaten in the Spanish league shows just how big the gulf between the Premiership top four and the other leagues currently is.

    I hope now both Arsenal and Man Utd can do the job tonight, to emphasise the point.
    My only doubt is Man utd , who really should be out of sight after the first half of the first leg. European football can be a cruel game, and they have paid the price for not taking chances in the past.

  • Comment number 67.

    To futbolsam...I have absolutely nothing against Ryan Babel. I was simply reflecting that he was the target for a fair measure of impatience from Liverpool's supporters inside Anfield last night.

    I do know he has not been performing well but I was a little surprised. He is quite an enigma. There does appear to be a good young player in there trying to get out, but he has been low on confidence and his career has not progressed as it should.

    He played his part last night though and deserves credit for it.

  • Comment number 68.

    i was thinking, rightly, from the off why liverpool cant play like that in the prem... n im still struggling as to why that is. but liverpool and real madrid have the european cup in their DNA, as do AC Milan... they are THE 3 teams that wer created to excell in this competition. Rafa was raised on this at madrid, n the pedigree of the teams that won it, his idol is arrigo sacchi, the great milan coach, n he ended up at liverpool with all their history in the european cup, n reignited all that is great about the club in this comp. he has no affinity with the english league, which is a problem, but i dont think ull find many liverpool fans, me included, thinking about that today after an absolutely brilliant performance and result.

    i think i speak for all of us today tho in hopeing that nikosbg makes his presence known, love to hear his defence of this today (penalty was out of order ill give him that, but the 'push' on pepe? if thats what constitutes a push in todays game, bareing in mind pepe is a big strong lad, quite capable of holding his own against even the strongest of players, found it hard to stay on his feet with a little tap on the shoulder from torres, if anything he deserved to b the man at fault for assuming going down so easily would actually get u something and anyway, liverpool could n should have been well on their way to 4 by that point anyway).

    cassilias was outstanding tonight, and i felt for the lad, much as i did shay given when newcastle were put to the sword. shame he had to b on the end of that hammering, but even tho the result was resounding, he did himself credit.

    finaly, any doubters still on the anfield atmostphere, its still THE best in the world, u can have ur oversized 70 thousand seater stadiums, the atmostphere will never rival anfield, n if madrid wont forget the result, or the nasty little record they took bk from here, they will remember the crowd

  • Comment number 69.

    Hope Inter whip utd tonite!

  • Comment number 70.

    Of course, if Liverpool had won 15 - 0 it would have been lucky. If we had won 50 - 0 it would have been a poor display from Madrid and the referee's fault.

    If Utd slip up and Liverpool win the league then it is lucky and Liverpool don't deserve it. As it stands Liverpool beat the big teams and slipped up against smaller clubs. Of course, this means that Utd have strength in depth and are able to dig out results against smaller teams.

    Ferguson took years to win the league. Now he's a legend. Benitez is building an improving team, just as Fergie did, but strangely 'he never learns from his mistakes'. I don't remember Fergie staging the greatest European Cup win in the history of the game after such a short time in charge.

    Liverpool are heading in the right direction. Benitez's nett spending is dwarfed by Chelsea and Utd. We have spent similar amounts to Utd and Chelski but we have brought a lot back in through selling too. We have yet to write off the kind of losses that they have on expensive flops, but we are still European giants and, this season we have run the title closer than we have in a while. If Benitez gets a decent budget and is allowed to spend on the players he wants, then we will see a fair test.

    Utd will win the league barring a remarkable chain of events, but Liverpool have shown quality and we clearly lack depth. That can change as Chelsea showed.

    'So Liverpool fans must ask the question. Are they happy with the Champions League final every 3 years and the odd good domestic cup run - but finishing 3rd or 4th in the league?

    Or is their desire not to see United trounce their League titles record such that they would sacrifice a man who has delivered for them so spectacularly in Europe?'

    This is a false dichotomy. When Chelsea evened out the odds Utd were nowhere. I suspect Mourinho, had he stayed, would have been the end of Ferguson. If Benitez ever gets a fair shot and a comparable budget then we will see.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    And as for talking Liverpool down by stating Real were poor, I do not think you have to be one of football's great analysts to state that on last night's performance.

    Real have had an exceptional run in Spain. They were made to look poor by a very good Liverpool team performance. I dont think either of us are "one of football's great analysts", however I think Liverpool have received less praise for an emphatic 4-0 result than Utd did for their 0-0 draw in Milan and Liverpool were roundly condemned for the manner in which they came away with a victory against Madrid 1-0 at the Bernabeu stadium. I realise that its not just your column that this happens in although I do think that there is definite "scant praise" here where Liverpool are concerned.

  • Comment number 73.

    @MU_Andy_58 #63

    Credit where it is due mate, sound post! Here's to a great battle on Saturday.

  • Comment number 74.

    The team no-one wants to draw? What about United? Sir Alex would love to get Liverpool in the next round

  • Comment number 75.

    I don't think Phil would write the same comments about Nani as he does about Babel. Don't mention Nani was 6 million more expensive has done nothing since joining UTD.
    But thats the UTD bias of the BBC for you.

    Anyway we played some great attacking football last night and made Madrid look poor.
    Looking forward to the game on saturday, but first there's Jose hopefully getting a result tonight.


  • Comment number 76.

    "39. At 09:18am on 11 Mar 2009, dhimmi wrote:
    Teams in England according to Phil McNulty

    1 Man Utd
    2 Chelsea
    3 Liverpool
    4 Arsenal"

    Dhimmi, you've changed the order from last week!

  • Comment number 77.

    For sure, liverpool dominated last night. But that does not take a way the fact that they tend to win their european ties on dodgy decisions by the referees. That, in turn, is probably a result of their great european tradion. It is a snowball effect, like manu domestically.

  • Comment number 78.

    @PulpGrape #49

    Ferguson has won it twice in 22 years as manager of United.

    Benitez has won it once in 4 years as manager of Liverpool. Assuming Rafa stays at Liverpool that long, let's make the comparison when he reaches 22 years at the helm eh?

    Since Benitez has been in charge of Liverpool, they have been the most consistent English side in the Champions League so that's where the tag comes from.

  • Comment number 79.

    10. At 08:24am on 11 Mar 2009, bigjohnhughes wrote:
    I don't think last's night win was down to tactical astuteness from Benitez. It was simply down to attitude and application from the players. They got after Real from the start.


    I can only assume then that you have been blaming our recent slump in the league solely on the players attitude and performance?

    If Rafa is going to get all the blame for our bad performances, then he should get all the credit for our good ones!

    IMO it's a mixture of both- Rafa has been too cautious at times and we all know he makes some baffling decisions, but we should also look at the poor performances of some of our players, and some unfortunate injuries to key players as a reason for our slump.

    Anyway, fantastic night last night, and seeing all these opposition fans moaning about how we didn't deserve it, Real were just poor, you'll never play like that again etc etc, just makes it all the sweeter!!

    Although, i DO agree that it's frustrating and I was certainly saying after the final whistle- "why can't we play like that in the league?!"

  • Comment number 80.

    Phil, Your blog title reads: "Benitez desrves Euro respect".

    Shouldnt that read: Benitez deserves repect...?
    By strategically placing the word "Euro" in the header you seem to infer that Benitez does not deserve your respect in domestic competitions.

    With that in mind you must agree that this leaves you open to allegations that your "faint praise" of the man could be construed as a blatant disregard for a very good manager.

  • Comment number 81.

    To give a foul by Torres for the first goal would have been extremely harsh by the ref. I saw the replays enough times and can only see a panicking Pepe making a right hash of it.
    The pen was tough on Heinze but he's been around long enough to know what happens when you put your arms up in those situations.
    Even before the pen, Real collectively looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

    This really hammers home the superiority of the English clubs in the CL now. If I had to put my mortgage on this season's winner then I couldn't look beyond Utd, Chelsea or Liverpool.
    I fully expect Utd and Arsenal to progress tonight to once again see English clubs making up 4 of the 8 quarterfinalists.

    I feel a bit sorry for Pool fans as their team would probably have more success in Serie A or La Liga. But with Chelsea and Utd around I can't see a domestic title in the near future. All realistic hopes must once again be pinned to the CL.

  • Comment number 82.

    I would to file a missing persons report.

    NIKOS BG last heard on 606 declaring the dominance of Spanish and Italian teams over the over rated English pretenders.

    If anybody has knowledge of this (know it alls) where abouts, keep it to yourself because he is very annoying and best left alone.


  • Comment number 83.

    Phil, were you the Madrid fan in the crowd with an Everton scarf?

  • Comment number 84.

    So Liverpool thumped Real Madrid convincingly, have also beaten Utd & Chelsea earlier - but lost to Spurs & Boro, coupled with loads of draws including Hull City leading them 2-0 at Anfield at one point! This all speaks for itself.
    Well said Phil, I guess Benitez does deserve Euro respect, only some in Pound Sterling country did not get that memo :-)

  • Comment number 85.

    Real were poor in defence and gave the ball away too often in midfield, but this had a lot to do with the relentless pressure put on them by Liverpool. Those who say Real 'gave up' after going 3-0 down urgently need a reality check: one look at sergio ramos bombing up and down the flanks puts paid to that theory, and the second half was the only time Real posed any sort of a threat! If Liverpool hadn't taken their foot of the gas at 3-0 it could easily have ended at 6-0. Anyone who suggests this is anything other than a top notch European performance just doesn't like Liverpool. I didn't see Bayern's mauling of Lisbon, but this is certainly one of the best champions league performances this season.

  • Comment number 86.

    I know I am a newcastle fan, but, Well, I watched the game, and I have to truely say, that it was MEN against BOYS, Liverpool from the first minute of the game just DESTROYED Real Madrid.

    No offence to Manchester United, but if Liverpool play like they did against Real Madrid, then United doesn't stand a chance

  • Comment number 87.

    Accpeted, even the blind knows Liverpool were magnificient last night against a mediocre madrid team, but to be perfectly honest those first two goals shouldn't have stood cos the first was a blatant foul on Pepe and the second wasn't a penalty but unfortunately a lot of Kop fans and the press including Mr McNulty think the shocking officiating was fair.

    it was in the same Anfield earlier this season that we witnessed the most shocking officiating in the history of champions league when Liverool got a unfair penalty against atletico at the last seconds of extra time. What baffles me most is the rate at which the English clubs have been favoured by match offcials lately- this is not to say they do not deserve the credit they are given but believe me not officiating is also an influence in there dominance. How Chiellini deserved a second yellow in a crucial knock out game for complaining about a blatant foul is still beyond my understanding..

  • Comment number 88.

    Enough begrudging comments! It was an excellent display and the controversy over the 1st two goals is irrelavent. If Liverpool had been 4-0 up after half an hour it would not have flattered them.

    As for the Benitez 'great in europe but not in the PL' theme....I just don't get that. For me it was the players who excelled last night, regardless of tactics. The whole argument is a bit of an enigma really.

    Great performance, but the rality is that Liverpool are not yet good enough as a team/squad to be made favourites for anything.

    I suspect a dose of reality awaits at OT come Saturday! But well done on a quality display last night.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    You are forgeting mr Phil. Rafa deserves praise in the league too. This is the closest we have been to winning it even if we dont. No doubt we will finish stronger than last season.

    We have steadily improved year after year in the league under Benitez. It won't happen overnight unless we got 200 mill to go and buy the depth of squad we need instantly, but we are closer again. and btw does no one mention UTD are only top because LFC dropped points by the bucket load in last few months? No they don't. Why? Because they are top because frankly they earnt it. No one seems to mention we earnt anything, always "the other team was poor" Why was they poor???????

  • Comment number 91.

    I agree, i always thought Benitez was given huge credit for his European record. In fact, you could argue that his successes are a result of his failures. Put it this way - had United, Arsenal or Chelsea not had the league to worry about in recent times, i can guarantee that they would have progressed further in Europe.

    But Liverpool were brilliant last night. It makes you wonder why they can't put in that kind of work-rate, passion and attacking threat when they're home to a lowly premiership team.

    On a side note...

    Comedy commentary moment, provided by Clive Tyldesley, when Alonso is subsituted for Lucas:

    "It's like for like"

  • Comment number 92.

    Liverpool where fantastic last night and if they played like that every week the league and all the cups would be coming to Anfield. The penalty i will amit was a bad call but regardless we should have won the game by more if not for Casillas amazing saves. Did anyone else think that Lucas with short hair looks a bit like Bellamy I never really noticed it before. Back on topic I think we can go all the way in the CL but unless we win against United at the weekend I would say any chance we have is over because even if Man U slip up Chelsea are starting to look like a team again. Come on Inter you can get the result against united.

  • Comment number 93.

    Phil - leave it out!
    No matter how well Liverpool perform in Europe, there's always detractors who believe it was the oppositions failings, rather than the Manager's and Player's abilities, that ground out the win!!!
    Since Rafa, we have beaten Barca away, Juventus away, Inter away, Real away... but do we get the credit for it!!! No, it's the opposition each time that were poor! Get real!
    Liverpool are a big match team. The better the team, the better we play.

    As for Liverpool only having two truly world class players - Gerrard and Torres, you're all off the mark there! We have the best defensive midfielder I've ever seen in Javier Mascherano, truly sublime in what he does. An awesome Goalkeeper in Pepe Reina, long may he stay. Two world class central defenders in Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel (that's not even adding Daniel Agger to that list, as he can't get into the first team, but would walk into 99% of sides in the world).
    An injury-free Fabio Aurelio is awesome at left back, praying he stays injury free, so he can establish himself as world class.

    I'm not even gonna add Xabi Alonso to that list, who's touch, vision, and passing abilities are second to none!!!

    I hope everyone keeps underestimating Liverpool Football Club, cause we love knocking you off your high horses!!!

  • Comment number 94.

    This is a false dichotomy. When Chelsea evened out the odds Utd were nowhere. I suspect Mourinho, had he stayed, would have been the end of Ferguson. If Benitez ever gets a fair shot and a comparable budget then we will see
    Hear hear!

  • Comment number 95.

    Great performance by L'Pool last night. I was genuinely nervous before kick off, especially without Benayoun or Riera as you never know what kind of performance you're going to get from Babel.

    It seems to me like Babel and Mascherano never really recovered from the Olympics this season, and only now are they reaching their true level. Masch certainly has been outstanding in the last couple of games.

    Also, to #49, PulpGrape. To answer your question about why Benitez is more highly rated in Europe than Ferguson, I think it is a question of ratios. The fact is that in four seasons Benitez has won the cup once and taken L'pool to the final once. I'm sure if Alex Ferguson had achieved the same by 1995 (after four potential european campaigns) the same praise would be lauded upon him.

  • Comment number 96.

    I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how Benitez is the "master" of the Champions League having only won it once and never competing on the domestic front at the same time.

  • Comment number 97.

    So, Rafa is a great manager......AGAIN !!!!
    It was only a couple of weeks ago, the "best fans in the world" (lol) were screaming for his head and demanding Jose to take charge, what a fickle bunch, some things never change.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    No-one wants to draw them? Pah. Ask any United fans' forum and 99% of us want the scousers, bring them on.

  • Comment number 100.

    Yes some decisions went Liverpool's way but that often happens when you pressurise teams for long periods - if it didn't then United would be in the relegation zone.


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