The responses to Saturday’s defeat were predictable but the sort thing that we wanted to hear.
By that I mean that the various quotes recognised what went wrong, what should have been done and what needs to be done and, on a positive note, what was done well.
Dirk Kuyt identified the need to make sure we take our chances.
“We should have killed the game in the second half because we had four big chances but we didn’t do that …. it’s unbelievable because we looked really good for a long time but then they got an own goal and then got a second from a throw in. Sometimes this can happen in football but we have to take our chances when they come along.”
“We hit the bar and post twice but we still should have finished the game off. We were much better than them for the first 70 or 75 minutes of the match. I can’t believe it. This match is over and we have to start thinking about Tuesday, keep going and playing the same way.”
Too right. I don’t think we should have too much to concern us. The only worry is that the manner of the defeat, after the way we played, gets to us and throws us psychologically. However, the team only needs to look at Chelsea as an example of how to respond. After their defeat to us they stuck three past Hull and five past Sunderland! At least we don’t have too much time to brood and pick over it as it’s straight into the Champions League again tonight with the visit of Atletico Madrid.
Win tonight and we all but secure qualification to the knock out stages giving us leeway to rest players for the remaining two games against Marseille and PSV and concentrate on making progress in the league. A far cry from last season when qualification was only secured in the last game!
Rafa has suggested that Fernando Torres is by no means certain to return tonight and face his old club.
“Hopefully he’ll be ready. If he cannot start then he will be on the bench if all is okay. I would say he has a 70 per cent chance of featuring in the game.”
My guess is that Rafa will keep him on the bench and wait to see how the game pans out. If we are in the winning situation Torres won’t be risked. Why bother when he can have more recuperation and training before the next game?
Atletico won 2-0 over the weekend and find themselves in the same situation as us re qualification. However, we showed enough against them at the Vicente Calderon to suggest that even without a full strength side we can run up the win. We were comfortable and in control before injury and tiredness struck in the second half.
Prediction? Although the Champions League has often been a welcome distraction from the premiership, the two competitions go hand in hand after Saturday. As Rafa said
“It’s good we have another important game on Tuesday and the reaction of the players has to be to play well and win the game”
What a pleasing “double whammy” it would be to bounce back with a win and secure qualification and I take us to do just that by two goals to nil.
Enjoy the game.