Liverpool draw a blank at La Ligas second best team, but they can take a lot of positives from their game at the El Madrigal Stadium.
Before the game kicked off, four triumphant Spanish reds were being honoured with what looked like miniature yellow submarines. So the banter in the dressing must have been good afterwards with Jamie Carragher being about.
Amongst a usual heavy red following in the crowd, the game kicked off seeing Liverpools latest signing Robbie Keane up front with young French striker David Ngog, in what seemed like a 4-4-2 formation. Both players equally had very decent chances to put the ball in the net in the first half, but maybe both debutantes had a case of the first game jitters. But that’s not to say they didn’t impress. Ngog showed good movement and tried to get into good positions to recieve the ball. And Robbie Keane just about covered nearly every blade of grass in the oppositions half whilst directing his new team mates up front, along with trying to win the ball back in his own half. He’s got natural desire.
But it wasn’t just a couple of new signings that was important in this game. The man, Steven Gerrard was back on show for the reds and the Liverpool captains quality is impossible to ignore for any follower of the game. He might need one or two games to get his usual pace back, but his vision and passing was back with a bang.
Bring on the second half and the much awaited return of Liverpools Number 9 for a little run out for the first time since that Euro final, yet still striking a deep fear into the oppositions defence, you got the feeling that the plan is in motion to step things up for Liverpools coming season. The two forward players in Nemeth and Pacheco who featured before Torres, you feel are being blooded for future seasons. A game against a very good team in Villarreal will do their already bubbling confidence no harm at all. And then you have Jay Spearing. A local lad who’s been one of the most gritty, talented and hard working players to feature for the youth and reserve set up. He linked up with Xabi Alonso like he’d played football with him down the park for many years. And twice he nearly stole the show with shots on goal – especially the last kick of the game when Alonso crossed from a corner ball directly on to the top of Spearings foot, which just went wide.
With the unfortunate and frankly annoying timing of the Olympics, the remaining games for pre season will see the reds miss out on having one, maybe two, very important players for the reds not being part of the big kick off. But the taste of seeing Gerrard and Alonso back in the middle, with maybe even Carragher, Agger and Skrtel behind them. You can only be confident of the quality that’s going to feed our forwards.
Rafa Benitez on our forwards after the game.
To see Robbie with the new lads out there was positive, Robbie worked hard and he wanted to impress. He played his part in some good movements in attack and showed his quality. I want to see them together before our first game in the Champions League qualifier.
They will have enough games now to play together before the start of the season and maybe they will have 45 minutes on Saturday.
Torres will play some games in a row now. He had some chances tonight but he only played for 20 minutes which was the idea in his first game back.
Ngog doesn’t know his teammates yet but he worked hard and again it was positive for us. Nemeth deserved his chance and he showed his quality.
The main idea for us tonight was to improve the fitness level of the team and I think we did that.