12 Dec 2007

Super Sami shines as Liverpool massacre Marseille

After the formational faux pas against Reading, Rafael Benitez reverted back to the 4-4-2 system clearly preferred by the the team, and as a result, Liverpool smashed four goals past Marseille to secure Champions League progress and make it 26 goals scored in the last 8 games.

Benitez dumped Liverpool’s top Champions league goal-scorer Peter Crouch on the bench yet again in another brazen indicator that Crouchy’s time at Anfield is drawing to a close. It seems that 11 goals in 13 CL games is not enough for Benitez, and his latest snub of Crouch is the worst yet given the importance of the game.

In any event, the team performed admirably, with Steven Gerrard continuing his fantastic goal-scoring run and the sensational Fernando Torres again proving that he is Liverpool’s most exciting player for years.

The outstanding performer on the night for me though was Sami Hyypia. The team struggled defensively in his absence against Reading and it is no coincidence that Liverpool kept a clean sheet on his return to the team. Sami has started 20 games this season, and 14 of them have been clean sheets.

Against Marseille, all the outstanding aspects of Sami’s game were on display as he produced a master-class of defensive brilliance: Commanding in the air; ferocious in the tackle; elegant in his distribution and imperious in his organizational and positional prowess.

Jamie Carragher may be the team’s surrogate captain but it is Sami’s experience and organizational ability that brings stability and confidence to the Liverpool defence.

Sami is a bona fide world class defender and he embodies everything that makes Liverpool great. Quite apart from being one of the greatest defenders ever to grace the Anfield turf, the big Finn oozes real class and is completely unaffected by the egocentric excesses of the modern game.

Sami has arguably been Liverpool’s most consistent player over the last 10 years and an outstanding ambassador for the club, with his superb ability being an integral component in making Liverpool the most successful English club of the noughties.

This does not stop people jumping on his back at regular intervals complaining that he has ‘lost his pace’ and other such nonsense. This is simply not true – Sami never had any real pace to begin with!

His game is not based on pace - it was and is based on intelligence and unparalleled positional excellence. Sami continues to perform admirably when called upon, and a fair analysis of Liverpool’s performances so far this season will back this up.

Tragically, Sami is part of a dying breed – the true footballing gentlemen: affable, unassuming, approachable, friendly and the consummate professional. He is and has been my favourite Liverpool player for years and it will be a sad day indeed when Sami eventually retires.


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