After each game I like to look back at my "keys" to see if they had an impact on the match. Fulham did not get a victory in Hamburg. They played a 0 - 0 draw against Hamburg. Fulham played a very good defensive game against Hamburg. However, they did not score an away goal which would have helped in the second leg.
The result could have been better, but Fulham have given themselves an opportunity to move on to the Finals. If they win the second leg they will go to the Finals.
Now it is time to look back at my "keys" to see if they had an impact on the game. Below is an "analysis of my 5 keys to victory for Fulham in the Europa League against Hamburg."
1. Fulham need to score at least one away goal. I have stated before the match that I would be thrilled with a draw. What I really meant to say was a draw with at least an away goal would have made me happy. If they got the away goal Fulham would have a stronger position going back to Craven Cottage. They now have to win the next leg to move on.
2. Fulham need to contain Ruud van Nistelrooy. For the most part Fulham did a very nice job on Ruud van Nistelrooy. He did have a very good scoring chance in the opening minute of the match. Beyond that the Fulham defense were on top of him the majority of the match.
3. Danny Murphy needs to control the midfield. I am a huge fan of Murphy's. I don't think he did a great job last night. For the most part Hamburg controlled the midfield. The opportunities for attack really did not go through Murphy. Fulham did make some long ball passes, but they were made by players like Paul Konchesky in the back.
4. Bobby Zamora needs to be a force. Zamora did not get many touches of the ball yesterday. He did make one great pass to set up Zoltan Gera. I think the style of the game did not help. Fulham I think especially in the first half seemed to play a little more defensive. They were being very careful when they pushed forward. Zamora came off early in the second half.
5. Will Clint Dempsey play tomorrow? Clint did play in the second half. I wish he played the entire game. When he came on for Bobby at times he was effective. He made a nice pass to Zoltan Gera that set up a potential scoring chance. I would have liked to see him play with Zamora yesterday. For me Fulham are at there best when Zamora and Dempsey are out there together.
In concluding, Fulham left themselves in a more difficult spot with not scoring a goal yesterday. The last 3 "keys" I think were factors in Fulham not being victorious. Danny Murphy really did not control the midfield. Zamora really was not a huge force yesterday. Also, Clint Dempsey did not play the entire match. I think these keys really hurt Fulham yesterday. The Cottagers now have to win in the second leg of Europa League Semifinals to go to the Finals.