Reina dismisses zonal critics

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Football News

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has defended the side's heavily criticised zonal marking system.

The Merseysiders' 14-month, 32-game unbeaten home record in all competitions was shattered by Chelsea's shock 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first-leg victory at Anfield, with Branislav Ivanovic causing the majority of the damage heading home twice from set-pieces.

Reina said: "It is always the same when we concede goals from free-kicks - people start talking about man-marking and zonal. But we have done it for five years and, although I don't have the statistics, I know we are one of the teams that conceded fewest from set-pieces over that time."

Now Liverpool must produce a recovery of Istanbul proportions on Tuesday in the second leg at Stamford Bridge to stay in the competition.

And it is very clear that manager Rafael Benitez is not about to change a system that has served him well throughout his managerial career.

Benitez said: "When you see man-marking you see many goals conceded every week. We have not conceded too many goals this season from set-pieces or over the years, the system works and has been very effective for us.

"It is not the system. It is the mistakes that were made by players. If you analyse Chelsea, they have Drogba, Terry, Alex, Ballack, Essien, Ivanovic - it is very difficult to stop all of them at set-pieces.

"They are all very tall, and if you make a mistake you are punished.

"This system has worked very well - just look at how many goals we conceded from set plays in my time, it is as good as if not better than most teams.

"But what was wrong was that players were not aware of what was going on around them. If you allow a player to run free like that, it is very hard to control all the zones, that was the big mistake."

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Branislav Ivanovic
European News
Jose Reina
Premier League
UEFA Champions League

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