Late, late shows in Champions League
This blog seems to have had a certain bee in its bonnet about stoppage time, with one post, on Manchester United, injury time and the need for reform, proving a popular one.
So, it was interesting to look through last night’s Champions League results and see so many late goals.
In eight games, there were four goals in injury time. Those for Atletico Madrid and Manchester United (them again!) were game-changing.
In total, 12 goals out of the 26 scored in those games took place after the 80th minute. By my rudimentary calculations, that’s over 46 per cent of goals scored in the final stages.
So what does this mean? Without any statistics for games generally as a ‘control’, it’s hard to say for sure. But why let that stop us speculating? Tiredness must be a factor. Games will often open up as they reach their conclusion. A losing side, such as Atletico or United, will push more in the final moments. A side doing particularly well, like Marseille last night, might knock in a few more goals. Maybe this happens more in the Champions League, as qualification is in sight?
Either way, this tiny sample of games shows how important fitness and concentration is, right up to the final whistle. It also shows how important injury time can be to the result of a game, or even to a team’s goal difference. Too important to just leave to the referee, I’d suggest.
There may well be more late, late shows tonight.
Liverpool are one particular exponent of pulling something out of the fire late on. I do, however, wonder if this is one ‘must win’ game too far? I’m not sure pinning your hopes on an injured Torres is the best idea, but then again, even an injured Torres is better than 95 per cent of strikers in the world. If he plays, that is. Here’s hoping…
As they say in all the Star Wars movies – I have a very bad feeling about this. ‘This’ being tonight’s match against Lyon. Could be our season pretty much done and dusted if we lose tonight and the calls for Rafa’s head will become louder. Late winner from Reina, direct from goal kick will suit me.
Tonight doesn’t bode well for Liverpool. So many injuries, and a team that really isn’t playing well.
Sadly, this is yet another season of scaling down expectations, day by day. From dreams of winning the league and the European Cup, to hopes of the Europa League and scraping into fourth place. Ah, the life of a Liverpool supporter. Although, to be fair, that’s probably the case for most supporters, in most sports.
Thinking about it some more, I’d be surprised to see Rafa go any time soon. Having recently signed a new contract, any settlement would be in the region of £20 million. So, from a business standpoint it is hard to make his sacking make sense, unless a new manager could guarantee that income. Financially speaking, Liverpool need to make fourth each season, nothing more. So, unless that is in real jeopardy (which it arguably isn’t yet), I can’t see Rafa going.
Sad though, isn’t it, that a once great team is now reduced to aiming for fourth every season. Bob Paisley himself, not a man given to boasting or pride, once declared that for Liverpool ‘First is first and second is nowhere’. He’s probably spinning in his grave.
Yes, it’s sad, but it is kind of understandable. As we all know, the footballing world is very different to what it was twenty, thirty years ago. It’s almost impossible to compete with the financial might of the very top tier of clubs, at least in the league, as the domination of Chelsea and Man U in recent years have shown.
You either need a very shrewd buyer of players, or money to burn, or ideally both. Liverpool have neither at the moment. The issue this year is that the likes of Manchester City and Spurs are starting to catch up.
Damn it, a fine performance from a depleted team, only for one mistake right at the end to undo most of the good work. Superb goal from Babel. Was good to see the fight and passion in the players. More of that and Rafa needn’t fear for his job.
I think I jinxed it by going on in yesterday’s post about the importance of playing right up to the final whistle.
Considering the number of clear-cut chances there were, perhaps the game should have been wrapped up long before injury time. But, with a depleted squad an away draw in Lyon, viewed in isolation, is a good result.
Babel’s goal was wonderful, I wish we’d see that sort of thing from him more often.
And now Liverpool’s future is in Lyon’s hands. If they can beat Fiorentina, we could have another famous night at Anfield ahead of us.