Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has a lot of respect for first-team keeper Pepe Reina. However, after watching him save Liverpool’s blushes yesterday, the Spanish manager can now credit his keeper as well with helping him keep his dignity in the press room for another day. The 0-0 draw against the Belgian side Standard Liege means Liverpool head back to the fortress of Anfield with a distinct advantage that Benitez feels will carry them into the group stage of the tournament.
Benitez said: ‘It will be different at Anfield, where we are expected to win and we will have our own fans behind us. Liege had their very noisy fans for the first leg.’ (Daily Mail)
It will indeed be difficult for Liege to get anything out of their second leg visit to Merseyside; however, if you take a deeper look at Rafa’s comments, you have to wonder if the goateed-one is already becoming too reliant on the home advantage before the League season even starts. Last year the club ranked fourth out of the top four teams in the Premier League with a mere 24 goals away from Anfield — a number that will surely not get it done if they expect to contend past December. If Rafa and his new squad want to have a legitimate shot then they need to get a ruthless streak going away from home.
You can blame the lackadaisical play yesterday on a majority of the squad on the lack of time the first-team squad have spent together on the pitch this season. But if we’re using yesterday’s game as an example of how Liverpool are going to play away this year, then there’s no possible way that type of football will garner a Premier League title.
Rafa needs to let the squad loose a bit more in away matches, because defensive football can only get you so far. And when you’re goal is a Premier League title, that means taking some risks away from the home fortress.