Wow, after the first leg, I don't think anyone could have predicted such an entertaining first half. It hasn't exactly been good football, but with both sides missing key players, that should be expected. The ebb and flow at times though, has been heart-stopping.
The most impressive aspect is how we've seemed to figure out our attack so quickly. It's been concentrated mainly on the right side, through Benayoun and Arbeloa, and after figuring out early on that we need to space out more, our ball movement has been dare I say beautiful? The only thing I think we lack is figuring out what to do once we get down near their box. It seems like neither Sissoko nor Mascherano want to come forward at times and this lack of anchor is quite evident.
If I had to pick a man of the match for the first half, I'd go with Arbeloa. He's been outstanding bringing the ball up, providing back-up for Benayoun, and being everywhere defensively, even if that means coming across the pitch to stop a potential goal for Toulouse. Mascherano and Sissoko have been solid as well, even if they can't decided on who should go forward at times.
Up front, Kuyt has been great and should probably have at least one goal to go with his assist to Crouch. Speaking of Crouch, seems like he's been reading my criticisms of him as he has only touched the ball more than three times on four occasions resulting in only two turnovers so far. He should also have another goal as both Benayoun and Leto have hooked him up with seemingly easy headers, which he botched both times. The goal was grand though.
Leto has had a very up-and-down debut. Early on he showed his class by taking it two defenders, beating them and then seemingly running out of options. Since then it seems the Toulouse defenders have figured him out and have given him space to make mistakes on his own. It also appears that his teammates haven't really developed much of a trust in him as the ball is primarily being brought up on the right. Hopefully they'll give him more chances to prove himself in the second.
Agger seems to have captured a little of his lost form as early on he made a stunningly skilled weave through the defense, though I would have liked him to shoot the ball in that situation instead of passing it.
I think what has made this match exciting is how tired our defense seems to be at times and have been caught off guard, but for the most part Toulouse has had little chance to capitalize as we seem to regain our composure at just the right moment. Anyhow, I sort of expect a less exciting second as it looks as if Rafa told everyone to calm down toward the end of the first.
The ref has been a wanker by the way, but what else is new? He must feel sorry for them, because he's letting them get away with bloody murder.