Fulham - Juve Notes!
I'm not going to suggest that Fulham are a better side than Juventus, or that we deserved the win last night in Turin.
Man for man, Juventus are better, and they deserved the win. They were better in attack. They were better in defence. They worked harder across the pitch. I must give them credit.
Still, I'm terribly disappointed with our performance; not necessarily the loss, but the performance, itself. I'm disappointed because we made it so easy for them. We made them look far better than they are.
I'm not going to review the entire match and rate all the players, but there are a few things that stand out:
Our first touch (I'm at a complete loss to explain this) was terrible all night. I lost count of the number of times that a simple pass was popped-up four feet in the air by the receiving player, taking additional time to settle and allowing a Juve player to close down.
Not only did this cause attack to break down, but it actually resulted in us giving away possession in dangerous areas several times. The passing never got going. Passes lacked pace and accuracy. For some spells, it seemed like the first match of the season, with players being unfamiliar with each other.
Greening was awful. His inability to fill Danny Murphy's role forced Etuhu to handle far too much of the possession which forced him further up the pitch, taking him out of his defensive role.
It caused his overall performance to suffer. Davies seemed off the pace. He never really got into the match. His mis-timed stab at the ball put him out of position and allowed Zebina to split he and Etuhu and score the second goal. He also missed a golden opportunity to get our first goal.
I was glad to see Dempsey come on; not just to replace Davies, but simply because it's great to have him back in the squad. Obviously, the most glaring weakness was defending on set pieces - two goals and a couple of near misses.
Fulham players regularly lost their assignments. It was actually quite shocking to see a Roy Hodgson squad lose their shape so easily. I'll not harp on it. I'm sure Roy will have the lads working on it as soon as they return to London.
Finally, the third goal should have never happened. The referee indicated two minutes of stoppage time, but allowed almost three minutes for no apparent reason. The goal was scored at least thirty seconds past the two minute mark.
And, before anyone suggests differently, the referee is under no obligation to prolong stoppage time to allow a corner to be taken. The referee should've blown the whistle before the corner was taken. Simple as that!
The overall performance was poor, but the result was harsh. I would've been critical of the performance, regardless, but if we could've returned to London only down 2-1, I really would've felt very good about our chances. At 3-1 down, I'm less optimistic. It'll take at least a 2-0 result to progress and will require an outstanding performance from the entire squad. Hopefully, we'll be up for it!
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