Jamie Carragher thinks that the 2007 Champions League final could have gone differently for Liverpool if Rafael Benitez had turned to Craig Bellamy and Peter Crouch.
Two years on from their unforgettable comeback victory over AC Milan in Istanbul, the Reds lost 2-1 to the same opponents in Athens as a Filippo Inzaghi brace secured revenge for the Serie A giants.
Dirk Kuyt pulled one back late on, but Liverpool ended up beaten despite the general feeling that they had been the better team.
“I’ve never watched that game again. It’s a killer losing a game of that magnitude, knowing how close you are,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“We can’t complain. We were very lucky in 2005 and maybe Milan had a touch of luck in that we were probably the better side.
“But I didn’t come away from the game thinking we’d done enough to win the game if I’m being totally honest.”
Benitez opted to start with Kuyt as a lone striker, only introducing Crouch as a 78th minute substitute and leaving Bellamy on the bench.
“It’s easier with hindsight I suppose, but I just look at Craig Bellamy being on the bench that night and not coming on,” continued Carragher.
“I think they had [Paolo] Maldini who was 39, 40 at the time, and you’re thinking ‘oh if we just had Bellamy for 20 minutes running at him…’
“So there are always little regrets, but you’re also lucky to get to a final of that magnitude.”
Jamie Redknapp, who was also appearing on Sky Sports’ The Football Show, then put it to Carragher that Benitez’s decision to leave out Crouch was also an error.
“Yeah, you had Crouch and Bellamy both on the bench,” continued Carragher.
“He played Dirk Kuyt upfront on his own and I think we knew over the next few years Dirk was never going to be a centre-forward who’d play upfront on his own, it wasn’t really his role.
“Even though Dirk scored late on in the game you just feel the aerial ability of Crouch, also the pace of Bellamy, you’d have wanted those two players on the pitch.
“I know Crouchy came on but its always a little regret that Bellamy didn’t come on.”