Cardiff City vs. Liverpool: 3 Keys to Victory for Liverpool

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2012

Cardiff City vs. Liverpool: 3 Keys to Victory for Liverpool

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    Liverpool is looking to win its first trophy since 2006 in the Carling Cup final today.

    Some would argue that the Carling Cup isn't the most prestigious trophy in England. In the pecking order, it certainly sits well behind the Premier League and also behind the FA Cup.

    It's certainly true that with a club like Liverpool, managers aren't remembered for their league cup wins alone.

    Regardless, a trophy is a trophy, and Arsenal would love to have won the Carling Cup this time last year.

    Rather than being the end of a journey, winning this competition could mean progress for the Reds.

    They aren't completely eliminated from winning a place in the Champions League. A win like this could spur the team on for the remainder of the season.

    Despite being a Championship side, Cardiff City is going to be a tough test for the Reds.

    Here are three keys for Liverpool to be able to lift its first trophy in the new Wembley Stadium.

Don't Underestimate Cardiff City

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    This has to be the most important thing.

    Liverpool cannot go into this match thinking it's already won as that would be disastrous.

    This final is eerily similar to last year's.

    Arsenal was a heavy favorite to defeat Birmingham City. It's hard not to think that the Gunners weren't going into the match expecting a huge win.

    Much like Liverpool, Arsenal had been taking its League Cup campaign very seriously. The London club had been criticized for their lack of trophies lately, so a winning the competition was a must.

    It wasn't to be for Arsenal as a goal from Obafemi Martins in the 89th minute won the match for Birmingham City.

    It was a devastating blow to Arsenal's season. In the span of a couple of weeks, they were also knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League and saw their Premier League hopes die a slow death.

    Liverpool has to go into this match expecting a fight for 90 minutes, and they'll have to bring everything they have to win it.

Make the Most of Its Chances

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    Liverpool's biggest problem this season has been poor finishing, especially against lower-level teams.

    Supporters have had to watch time and again as the Reds will dominate a club like Norwich, Swansea City or Blackburn and yet fail to find the back of the net.

    The longer Liverpool stays off the score sheet, the more confidence Cardiff will get and the more frustrated Liverpool will become.

    With Luis Suarez back in the lineup, the attack has looked better, but even the Uruguayan has had his struggles in front of goal.

    Obviously with this being a final, there's no opportunity for a draw. If Cardiff can hold out for penalties, Liverpool would almost lose any sort of personnel advantage they have.

Sort out the Midfield

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    You could probably ask 10 Liverpool supporters for the club's best 11, and you'll probably get 10 different answers.

    Liverpool has looked very good when lined up in a 4-3-3 with Suarez up top and Bellamy and Kuyt on the wings, but Andy Carroll played well against Brighton and has put a few good matches together, so Kenny Dalglish might want to play with two strikers.

    The selection problems really kind of stem from midfield. You can count on Steven Gerrard starting, but other than that, it's pretty much up in the air.

    If Dalglish lines up with Gerrard and Charlie Adam in the center of midfield, then you almost have to start Jordan Henderson because he will run around the entire field much more than either Gerrard or Adam.

    Should he decide not to play Jay Spearing, then the club is going to lack a ball-winner in the midfield. He's lined up Jamie Carragher in a defensive midfield role, but it's doubtful he'll go to that well in such a huge match.

    There are so many options the Scot could choose.

    Dalglish must have a defined set of tactics for the midfield.