BORDEAUX 1 – 1 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool’s new European campaign has started with a draw.
Our Europa League qualification came about rather luckily thanks to another English team (Arsenal) having qualified for European competition TWICE last season, so by rules stated under FIFA and UEFA regulations the first Premier League team outside of the top 5 (European qualification spots) got given the “extra place” to play in Europe. Liverpool were that club in 6th place. We didn’t even make the top 5 last season and still managed to end up playing in European competition, so yeah… this has been considered a very lucky event and Liverpool fans see their Europa League fixtures as blessings or gifts that they had no idea they would receive. It’s fortunate that we’re even a part of this competition this season and with a draw in our first game, nobody can really say that we’re wasting the time we have been gifted.
Brendan Rodgers shockingly made 8 changes to the last squad listed and it’ll take a while to tell you all about them, but I’ll talk you through it.
First of all – I’ll mention the change that made me happiest. I was very pleased that Dejan Lovren was removed from the squad completely, with Mamadou Sakho replacing him in the centre of Liverpool’s defence. I’d mentioned this specific change being necessary since before the Manchester United game – which Lovren played in as we lost to them 3-1. So this change was a fairly long time coming, but finally it happened in this fixture. I can only hope Rodgers does not put him straight back in the side as we go back to playing in other competitions (Premier League and domestic cup games coming up).
Next, we saw Kolo Toure return in the place of Nathaniel Clyne. Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno would play side by side, creating a rather different back 4 to the one we’ve been seeing so far this season.
Then in midfield, we would see Jordon Ibe, youngster Jordan Rossiter, Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Coutinho who has recently come back from suspension (he’d been banned for one game – the recent Man United fixture) and we would see Divock Origi given the sole responsibility for the role of striker in our 4-5-1 formation.
The substitute bench was barely recognisable as promising youngsters (from the Academy) such as Randall, Chirivella, Cleary and Brannigan were all named, surprising most fans at their inclusion. Nobody would blame if you were one of the fans wondering “who are THEY?” as you read the team line up. The whole squad had been changed around significantly, even keeping Danny Ings and Firmino on the substitute bench as previously untested players were thrown into a major European fixture starting 11 ahead of them.
It’s actually kinda cool that some of Liverpool’s most talented youngsters would receive a chance to show what they can do to the world in a European fixture but at the same time, it’s kind of scary as the manager pushes the limits of how many changes he can make for an “experimental squad” in such a big game. Is there such a thing as “TOO MANY CHANGES”? Would all these changes affect the result negatively or positively? Well, we didn’t win but we didn’t lose either so it’s not right to criticise too much about the multiple changes made. You could say that they worked out rather well. We very nearly got a win with this new squad but were denied this by a single goal as our opposition drew the score level late in the game, with very little time left to score a second goal and claim a victory.
All in all, we put on a show for the fans in France and those watching on TV around the world. It wasn’t the best display of football I’ve ever seen in my life but these players all showed heart and determination and did not embarrass themselves as they went up against a major French club.
Right from the start, Liverpool asserted themselves in offensive plays as Origi set up Coutinho who managed to find enough space for a shot on goal within 5 minutes into the game.
Jordon Ibe made his mark on the game as he ran right into the box from the wing and only stopped running when he was brought down by a Bordeaux defender. He did not even claim for a penalty kick as the hard tackle made him go crashing to the grass in the opposition’s penalty area. I’m sure we can all think of a few players who would be immediately pressuring the referee to award them a penalty directly after they pick themselves off the pitch but Liverpool and Jordon Ibe showed enough class to not fish for penalties and to just keep on playing, despite having been in that situation. It showed a clear message to the world: Liverpool don’t cheat!
Liverpool did have some experienced players on the pitch as Simon Mignolet was making his 100th club appearance in this game, perhaps a reason why Adam Bogdan was not chosen even though Rodgers had been making changes in multiple positions and could have easily picked a new goalkeeper for this fixture.
Still in the first quarter of an hour of play, Kolo Toure was asserting himself as the solid defender we all know he is, but was warned by the match official as he got booked by the referee for a late challenge where he got more of the player than the ball. A little later after his yellow card, he was still challenging hard for balls clearly, as he bashed into Simon Mignolet when they both attempted to clear a dangerous cross at the same time and got a “dead leg” for his efforts and would leave the pitch temporarily as he waited to recover from his short term injury. Nobody could doubt Toure’s determination to be the best defender on the pitch after that. Kolo was giving his all in our defence, even if it meant getting injured. Around the half hour mark it was clear that a substitution needed to be made, as Toure limped off the pitch and was replaced by youngster Chirivella. This was the 17 year old’s big chance to impress everybody watching and we certainly didn’t get disappointed by him. If he’d failed in his defensive duties, we’d probably be talking about how we got beaten because of the young inexperienced guy making mistakes, but that’s not the case.
The game continued further and Liverpool’s defence still looked strong, despite being rather different to other back fours chosen in games we had won already this season. Different doesn’t always mean “bad”, made clear by the Liverpool manager’s multiple changes chosen for this game.
Bordeaux made some offensive plays of their own and Mamadou Sakho showed the fans how it’s done as he defended well when the opposition came into his part of the pitch. I felt relieved at watching him in place of Lovren and enjoyed seeing him play.
Jordan Rossiter was running into space and given the ball by his teammates on different occasions. On one occasion, Chantome was given a yellow card as Rossiter was fouled and a free kick was won. The free kick was taken short but Ibe couldn’t quite find Origi in the right position and the set piece didn’t amount to a goal scored unfortunately. There wasn’t long to go in the first half now, though. The best thing to happen before the break would be Coutinho smashing a powerful shot that beat the keeper but was not quite accurate to make it’s way into the goal… it sailed off the boot of Coutinho from 25 yards out and hit the post but rebounded away and got cleared.
The two teams would eventually go in drawing level with no goals scored by the time the half time whistle was blown. I still felt hopeful for the second half and knew we had displayed some decent offensive plays and had the ability to score and maybe win this. It seemed like the game could be won by 1 goal, perhaps a 1-0 win. Funnily enough, I had felt the same way about the recent Manchester United game at Old Trafford. All the goals of the game were scored in the second half of that fixture too.
So, the game continued. I don’t know for sure what the manager said at half time or if it had inspired them, but Liverpool seemed very determined to attack and pursue potential goals.
Coutinho and Lallana would play well together, linking well in the offense as we headed toward Bordeaux’s penalty area, time after time. A cross made to Origi in a dangerous position had a small chance of reaching him but he was being heavily marked and as the cleared ball came out to Rossiter, a shot was made and saved by the Bordeaux goalkeeper. We didn’t give up after being denied, our players seemed to want a goal and perhaps even a victory.
Bordeaux had some chances to score too. There was a cross to Maurice Belay which had floated to him at the back post. A save was made by Mignolet and a deflection off the striker it came to about 6 yards made it’s way past the post and out for a goal kick. Dangerous, but not good enough to get them a goal.
Two minutes later (the 65th minute), we counter attacked. After Liverpool started pushing towards Bordeaux’s penalty area, a defender came towards Adam Lallana. He would nutmeg the defender, run around him to gather the ball which he then put coolly past the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner of the net. It looked so easy and yet was such a brilliant piece of football, it probably couldn’t be recreated by any of the fans. We cheered Lallana’s name and I felt this was possibly going to be the winning goal of the game. I’d have loved to tell you about our 1-0 win against Bordeaux where Lallana scored the winner. Unfortunately our opposition would score eventually but it was past the 80 minute mark and nobody except perhaps the Bordeaux fans had thought it was going to happen so late into the game.
Perhaps it was just fatigue that led to Bordeaux’s goal. There was no real mess up or huge defensive error with a single player to blame for the conceding of their goal. Bordeaux had been attacking multiple times over the 20 plus minutes that had elapsed since Lallana scored his goal. Liverpool had seemed to back off a bit, started attacking less and defending more and most likely hoping to keep the score as it was by simple defence alone. It didn’t seem to be enough though.
One of the attacks made by Crivelli had really made a mess of our back line, we weren’t in proper formation after trying to take the ball from him or block his shots. After scrambling for the ball and not managing to keep it, there was gaps in the defence. Liverpool had pushed their players into an area which left part of the pitch undefended. There was just enough space for the ball to arrive at the feet of
their substitute Jussi who was around 12 yards out.
He sidefooted the ball with enough power to make sure it went into the top corner of the goal before the Liverpool goalkeeper even had a chance to see it past our own defenders who had most likely been blocking Mignolet’s vision as they had been scrambling to make a clearance just a moment earlier. Unfortunate, but not something we can blame any one player for. I’ve been quite happy watching Liverpool play their first European game in many months and I won’t tarnish the experience with finger pointing and cursing a specific player over the goal we conceded. It wasn’t a victory, but we had performed very well and not gotten beaten. That’s something to be proud of, actually.
Of all the players on the pitch, I really enjoyed watching Coutinho the most. Lallana’s goal was pretty special but he had only really shown his brilliance in a single moment of the match while Coutinho seemed to have making magic happen for almost the entire game. Assists mean just as much as goals, sometimes. Coutinho is one of the key players who make dangerous plays happen and often is involved in the lead up to goals, even if he didn’t put the ball in the net himself.
He doesn’t ever give up, even after being denied by goalkeepers, defenders and even the crossbar and post as he manages to hit the frame of the goal in many of his appearances. I’d like him to work on that, to turn those “he almost scored” moments into actual goals but I’m still going to name him as my Man Of The Match.
Liverpool have a bit of a busy period coming up in their fixture list soon. From the 20th September, Liverpool will have 3 games to play in 6 days as we face Norwich in the Premier League, Carlisle in the third round of the League Cup, then Aston Villa in the Premier League. Our next 4 games will all be at Anfield so the home fans will have a lot to look forward to in Liverpool up until we play the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on October 4th.
Keep walking on with hope in your hearts. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.