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Back To Zooropa: Sparta v. Liverpool Preview

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So Ancelotti smells that bad, eh?
So Ancelotti smells that bad, eh?


US TV: GOL TV AT 3pm Eastern

I am loathe to use a U2 quote for the title, but that's the one album of theirs I can stand because it's kinda weird. Anyway...

Liverpool return to European action tonight, this time with Kenny Dalglish in tow and not everyone's favorite uncle. While there's been some excitement over the kids Dalglish is bringing over, I doubt any of them make the squad. This is more a "This could be you one day" kind of trip, and I've always wanted to see Prague at night so I'm a bit jealous. Either way. I can't sit here and tell you that I've seen a lot of Czech league football this season, and I doubt most of you can. A great breakdown of Sparta can be found at Play Waved On.

Judging from that analysis, one would probably expect Liverpool to return to three at the back with Kyrgiakos, Skrtel (if fit) and Carragher. If Prague are indeed intent on taking the American Airlines path to the net, then this becomes one of those rare game where Menelaus is valuable (though to be fair in a back three where he's far more protected he's been just fine). To boot, after reverting to four at the back Liverpool were a little flat on Saturday, so they may try this just to liven themselves back up again.

But I do expect changes. I imagine Joe Cole gets a run ahead of Maxi, and as bad as Cole has been I don't see how he could be worse. Jovanovic doesn't really fit in this formation unless he's one of the two behind the striker, and I wouldn't be shocked to see Ngog go up top ahead of Kuyt. What I really want is Dani Pacheco slotted in there, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. A role behind the striker is where he would seem perfect, but that didn't work out before. But that was under Hodgson, and things are different now. However, Kenny may opt for a stronger lineup, as Liverpool don't play until the second leg of this next Thursday and you might as well let it all hang out, right?

These games always end up being a total bore. Liverpool in the past have just played to take the second leg at home, and a 1-1 draw here would probably be snatched and run down the block to the hideout of presented right now. Prague has been on winter break so it's kind of hard to fathom how they'd be totally on song and have a rhythm right now. If Liverpool make some changes it could be a disjointed start. And we're still not sure how badly Liverpool want to win this competition. But it's their only chance at a trophy, so I'd have to think pretty seriously. So let's take a step toward that, hmmm?

-I don't need to read the details, but waking up this morning to find Tom Hicks losing yet another court decision makes it almost impossible for this to be a bad day.