How NOT to Prepare For a Champions League Final (Liverpool vs Chelsea)

Liverpool had only pride to play for, and trying to steer clear of the club’s worst finish in more than 50 years. For Chelsea, despite the mathematical chance of winning the Champions League ticket through the league, it was about resting player and avoiding injuries.

And that’s how it looked like. Liverpool struck home early with an own goal from Michael Essien and never looked back. Everything that wasn’t there for them in the first 60 minutes of the FA Cup final was on from the start. The Carroll – Suarez partnership, Jojo Shelvey showing he’s much better than Spearing; Henderson proving his worth in the middle and Stewart Downing showing he’s much better on the right.

Chelsea did have their chances – Branislav Ivanovic in an awful performance struck the post. Fernando Torres, booed loudly on his first visit to Anfield since making the unsuccessful switch from red to blue, his the crossbar. That was it for Chelsea in the first half. On the other side, John Terry kept messing up, even worse than Ivanovic, and 28 minutes in, Liverpool were up 3-0 after goals from Henderson and Agger.

Liverpool could have gone down with a 4 goal lead at half time after Ivanovic simply hit Andy Carroll in the chest, giving the reds a penalty. Well, if you’ve seen Liverpool matches this season, you know that they love hitting the woodwork, and have a knack to miss penalties. Downing did send Turnbull to the opposite direction, but hit the post himself.

The second half, as expected, was mostly garbage time. Liverpool did look for another goal. Even Chelsea scored through the red hot Ramires, one of the few players from the Chelsea lineup who might actually start against Bayern Munich on May 19, his fifth goal this month.

Liverpool still looked dangerous throughout the second half, but needed a terrible Turnbull clearance to score their fourth and final goal as Shelvey showed a lot of skill by finding the wide open net from long range. The rest was chances upon chances that just didn’t connect.

It was a proper send off for the Liverpool fans after their team sorely disappointed all season, especially at home – finishing with only six wins from 19 home games. They drew nine and lost four, but when potential finally breaks out, it makes you wonder why it didn’t sooner. It’s not on all Dalglish; Suarez was suspended for eight matches. But there were plenty of mistakes to go along with the bad luck and injuries many bemoaned all season long.

For Chelsea, it wasn’t a respectful display. Most of the men on the pitch won’t start in Munich, but to look so bad, so weak and so fragile is never something you expect from one of the most successful sides in Europe according to recent seasons. John Terry and Ivanovic won’t be playing in the final, and from how they played at Anfield tonight, Di Matteo should be happy he doesn’t have them at his disposal.

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