Did We Win, Or Did They Lose? Depends who you ask...

Posted by Rox on February 22, 2007, 11:55:08 AM

So, did we win, or did Barcelona lose?

It sounds like a stupid question, but people are quick to place the 'blame' for last night's scoreline on a poor Barcelona side: a shadow of their European Cup Winning side of just 8 months ago.

But this is a common problem.  People who write about football have their own views on the way the game SHOULD be played.  Some don't care about the sublime passing, and believe the long ball is the way the game is played if 'small' teams are to compete with those who have much better resources.

There are those who simply don't like us.  That's fine.

But when a single football match between two great sides is condensed to feeling that one side must have "lost" because they didn't turn on their "legendary" passing game, that shows a complete lack of understanding of the game in general.

There were times in the game last night that we were outclassed.  Barcelona have the sort of talent that every club side in the world envy.  The fact is, a football match is played over the 90 minutes, but the opinon of the sportswriter is often swayed by the scoreline alone.

For the first 10 or so minutes, Liverpool showed no fear, and kept the Nou Camp faithful silent as the grave.

It is completely fair to say that Barcelona's goal came against the run of play.  After the goal, Barca and the Nou Camp were energised.  It took some resolute defending from our boys and Carra in particular to steady the ship for the next 20 or so minutes.  We worked hard to get back into the game, and because Barca did not press home their advantage, (perhaps they did not do so because they felt comfortable at 1-0?) they allowed us back into the game.

Now, that isn't to do with being 'bad' or 'off-form', that's to do with the rhythm of a football match.  Often high scoring games have goals scored in close succession, beating down the morale of one team, while the other team gets a boost.  As Barca didn't take advantage, the pendulum swung back the other way.

Whist it would be very easy to say many Barca players were lazy at points in the game, it is that easy style which had brought them success.  Like a showboating player, on form they are unbeatable but when things go wrong it looks horrible.

But it was Liverpool's determination not to lie down, and to keep going that made Barca look lazy at these points in the game.  If we had not pressed, if we had been happy with the idea of just a 1-0 loss at the Nou Camp, we would not have exposed these weaknesses.  There would have been a time in a European adventure that a 1-0 loss at the Nou Camp would be seen as a good result.

Sure, we were a little fortunate that the goalie slipped and took the ball over the line, but had that not been given, Kuyt was the first to react despite two Barca players being closer to the ball.  Our game was about forcing chances, and stopping Barca from playing.  In fact we could have scored in the opening minutes..forgotten by those pundits and writers, because when Barca scored, normal service had been resumed.

And when we manage to do that, the shallow amongst the media and some fans declare that it is Barca's fault that we won.  Surely it is Rafa's job to seek out these weaknesses and exploit them?

It isn't our fault that we did a good job.  At times, going forward Barca looked like they could rip us to shreds - but they didn't because we defended bravely.

We made our own luck because Rafa prepared the team for this sort of game.  How many teams win from 1-0 at the Nou Camp?  No many, that's for sure.

So, we can chalk this result up as being a 'freak', or handed to us because Barca were playing 'shite'.  And in fact one report says we played badly!

The fact is that you do not win 2-1, coming from behind at the Nou Camp without playing well and having an excellent gameplan.

But this sort of thing happens regularly.  There are all sorts of games where this is the case.  Whenever we beat opposition that were supposed to kick our butts, people crawl out of the woodwork to prove that we played the worst football in the history of football ever, and the opposition handed us a bye.

Liverpool's European Cup Winners of the seventies were roundly described as "ordinary" and even "robotic" by some corners of the press, but when we look back now, they are legends of the classic Liverpool way.

History is written by the winners.  Whereas at one time newspapers of today were the chip wrappers of tomorrow, the online revolution makes sports writing much more exposed.  When you read 6 different accounts of last nights game and none of them agree, it shows either a lack of in depth understanding of the game or bias which clouds the judgement of the writer.  These opinions will be there in 10 years time, when we will read them and wonder which game the writers were watching.

I have no doubt people will disagree with my assessment of the game, because we all think differently - and that is what makes football and these forums so interesting.

But here's a challenge to you.  For the next televised game, record it, but as you watch it live turn the sound off.  Then, just WATCH.  After the game, replay it, with the sound on.  You will probably disagree with every opinion of the pundits.  In fact, you may think that one team played well, whereas the gang of pundits all believe that it was a terrible match.  You may think some decisions were 'unlucky' when they think it was 'clear-cut'.  It's amazing the differences of opinon there are when you aren't swayed by commentary or half-assed punditry. 

And remember this: no matter the result in two weeks time, winning 2-1 at the Nou Camp, in the Champions League, coming from behind against the reigning European Champions is an impressive feat - and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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