I will come out and say this right away, there are two teams that I have supported passionately and to the detriment of my health throughout the majority of my years: AS Roma and Liverpool. As for the 1984 final, I was less than one year old and more concerned with mashed turkey and peas, napping and drooling. Actually, not much has changed. But if I was a wee bit older, I would’ve hoped for a Roman victory considering the game was in Rome, Roma have never won and I’m Italian by blood(and no, I will never forgive my family for moving to America). As for tomorrow’s matchup, I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would bet against Rafa Benitez in Europe. I mean that sincerely in its most unbiased form. The man has a phenomenal record(2 finals in 3 years with a squad nobody would confuse with the most talented in Europe) and just seems to have that certain je ne sais quoi about him. As for the boys from Milan, I don’t think Kaka is the one to worry about. Granted, he is one of the top players in the world but the man Liverpool should fear is Clarence Seedorf. It’s hard to believe he’s only 31 years old; it seems he’s been winning CL finals since the mid-1980’s. Kaka may be more talented but Seedorf’s chicanery is much more difficult to defend than speed. For me, the key players for each side are Seedorf and Gerrard. As Gerrard goes, Liverpool goes. The Scousers should have little worry, Stevie always saves his best form for the biggest games(Istanbul, Olympiakos, West Ham last year, Chelsea on a regular basis).
Onto the game, I agree with Brian’s squad, though I’m not going to be comfortable when Kaka drifts out to the right and Arbeloa has to defend him. Crouch comes on for Pennant shortly after halftime, and Gerrard drifts out right in a 4-4-2. Riise drops back with 30 minutes left and Harry Kewell comes on for Arbeloa. Inzaghi should start for Milan with the usual suspects playing behind him.
My heart and head say the same thing: Liverpool 2 - Milan 1. Riise(31), Crouch (67) - Kaka (52).
* - Anyone else notice the commercials on ESPN? The two big superstars for Milan: Kaka and Seedorf. Obviously. The two big superstars for Liverpool: Gerrard and Peter Crouch. Really? How do you think Reina, Carragher, Mascherano, Alonso, Riise and Kuijt felt about that? Seriously, Peter Crouch? Smells like Julie Foudy's and/or Eric Wynalda's idiocy was involved in this somehow. Me thinks ESPN needs to invest a little bit more on their soccer pundits.