Fulham beat Hamburg 2 - 1 yesterday at Craven Cottage. This was the second leg of the Europa League Semifinals. They will now move on to play in the Final against Atletico Madrid in Hamburg. The game takes place on Wednesday May 12th.
Yesterday's match arguably could be considered the greatest victory in Fulham history. They were down a goal at the half. They came from behind and scored 2 goals in the second half. It was an incredible comeback.
Before each match I post my 5 "keys" to the game. Would any of my keys be factors in this match? Below is an analysis of "my 5 keys to victory for Fulham in the Europa League against Hamburg."
1. Fulham need to get Bobby Zamora involved right away. I think the fact that Bobby started the match was a huge confidence booster for the club. He seemed to be not at 100% yesterday. Fulham did get him involved right away. He had one of the best chances to score in the second minute. His shot was saved by the goalkeeper. Fulham did try to get the ball to him often in the first half. Even though he didn't score I do think his presence was important. He went out early in the second half probably because of his injury.
2. Fuham need to contain both strikers for Hamburg. Fulham for the most part did a nice job on Ruud van Nistelrooy and Mladen Petric during regular play. The Cottagers got burned on a set piece. Mladen Petric's strike was perfect on a free kick in the first half. The strikers had a few chances but were kept in check. Overall the defense did there job.
3. Danny Murphy needs to control the midfield. Danny Murphy hung in there throughout the game. He was playing against very good players for Hamburg in the midfield. He probably didn't completely control the midfield. His play though was significant. He made some key passes. None bigger than the pass he sent to Simon Davies which set up the first goal for Fulham. The captain for Fulham came through.
4. Mark Schwarzer needs to be almost perfect tomorrow. I thought going into the match Schwarzer needed to be at his best. I was hoping for a clean sheet. He did give up a goal on a free kick. It was a great strike and a difficult shot for Schwarzer to save. The key however is he did not give up a second goal. He kept Fulham in the match until there 2 dramatic goals in the second half. Once Fulham got the lead he shut the door on Hamburg. Schwarzer did his job once again.
5. The Fulham fans can be a huge factor tomorrow. I know I was watching the game online, but I could see and hear the fans at the match yesterday. You could tell they were completely behind the Cottagers. After Davies scored the first goal the crowd went crazy. They might have given Fulham an extra boost in their step. After Gera scored the go ahead goal, it looked like it was electric at Craven Cottage. I have to give credit to the Hamburg fans as well. They were great in numbers with plenty of noise and excitement for their club. I think fans for both sides might have made a difference.
All of my keys seem to play a small role in the match yesterday. The biggest factor of the match was not one of my keys. The Fulham player's ability to come from behind and still believe they could win were a huge factor in this match. They believed they could win in the second half. They didn't give up when Zamora came off. They just kept trying to make scoring opportunities. This hard work and belief finally paid off midway through the second half. When you have players like Zoltan Gera and Simon Davies stepping up in huge situations you are going to win many matches. I can't say enough great things about these two players yesterday. They were terrific.
In concluding, this was a complete team effort. Fulham are not a team of Superstars. They are a team of real good players that just do not give up. The Cottagers belief in themselves that they could win, was the real key to this victory.