It is a sign of the way that modern football is these days that a match between two giants of European football is being used as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations of an old baseball stadium, but that is exactly what is happening in the early hours of Thursday morning when Liverpool face Roma.
The Italians take on the Reds at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, whose owners Fenway Sports Group also have control at Anfield, making the match a strange hybrid affair that sums up exactly where football has got to in 2012.
The Liverpool side that John W Henry is showing off is far from what he had in mind upon buying the club in October 2010, but as a transitional period for the Reds begins the American will be hoping to see the sort of renaissance he masterminded upon taking the helm at the Red Sox, who hadn’t won the domestic title for decades and had an old, outdated stadium in desperate need of renovation. Sound familiar?
With the exception of Charlie Adam, who remains intent on kicking the ball out of play at the other end of the pitch as often as possible, there were signs in the draw with Toronto, albeit very small ones, that Rodgers’ philosophy is being taken on board by the players.
Boston eventually won the Major League in a redeveloped Fenway Park, but Liverpool are some way short of that type of success as the club’s new era begins. The match against Roma is the second of Liverpool’s US tour, and also the second under new boss Brendan Rodgers, who began his tenure with a 1-1 draw against Toronto on Saturday evening.
Clashes between Liverpool and Roma inevitably bring back memories of the 1984 European Cup final, which the Merseysiders won on penalties after Bruce Grobbelaar’s infamous ‘spaghetti legs’. Although nothing like that at all is at stake here, the odds suggest things might be as close as they were on that illustrious night. Roma are 33/20 to spoil the FSG party, with the draw at 11/5 and Liverpool quoted at 7/5 to make their owners happy with a win.
With the notable exception of Charlie Adam, who remains intent on kicking the ball out of play at the other end of the pitch as often as possible, there were signs in the draw with Toronto, albeit very small ones, that Rodgers’ philosophy is being taken on board by the players. But with much work still to be done, Liverpool have a tough test against a Roma side who are obviously many classes above an MLS outfit.
And with the Reds still missing their England internationals (a surprising number of them given the season they endured last year) who have joined up with the squad but are not yet deemed to be up to speed, Roma could be the bet here at 33/20.
The Reds will also be missing Luis Suarez, who will appear for Uruguay at the Olympics, and will therefore be relying once more on Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani.
Meanwhile, Roma will be without their Italian stars who reached the final of Euro 2012.
Nevertheless, their squad has far more class and the Italians could well prove that by beating a Liverpool side which will be full of young, inexperienced players and senior pros who look to be on their way out of the club.
Recommended bet: Roma to beat Liverpool @ 33/20
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