LFC & EFC In The UCL & UEL

European football returned to Merseyside this week, with both Liverpool and Everton in action. The Reds are back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 5 years, and kicked off their Group B campaign at home to Bulgarian side PFC Ludogorets Razgrad, whilst Everton entertained VfL Wolfsburg in the Europa League.

The build-up to Liverpool’s match began with an open training session and press conference the day before the game…

 

UEFA Champions League footballs
UEFA Champions League footballs

 

Liverpool players go for a jog around the training pitches at their Melwood base
Liverpool players go for a jog around the training pitches at their Melwood base

 

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers watches over proceedings
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers watches over proceedings

 

Mamadou Sakho, Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli together during training
Mamadou Sakho, Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli together during training

 

Mario Balotelli enjoying himself during the training session
Mario Balotelli enjoying himself during the training session

 

Raheem Sterling finds something amusing during training
Raheem Sterling finds something amusing during training

 

Manager Brendan Rodgers speaks to the media during the press conference
Manager Brendan Rodgers speaks to the media during the press conference

 

Then Tuesday came around. Matchday 1. Anfield was buzzing. Not many people seemed to have heard of Ludogorets, something which usually spells upset. I decided against the upset, choosing to shoot Liverpool’s attack for the full 90 minutes. I’m glad I did, although there was a moment when I wondered if I’d made a mistake…

 

A replica of the Champions League trophy on a souvenir stall outside the stadium
A replica of the Champions League trophy on a souvenir stall outside the stadium

 

A Liverpool fanzine welcomes European football back to Anfield
A Liverpool fanzine welcomes European football back to Anfield

 

Adam Lallana of Liverpool battles with Virgil Misidjan of Ludogorets
Adam Lallana of Liverpool battles with Virgil Misidjan of Ludogorets

 

Raheem Sterling of Liverpool has his shot saved at close range by Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool has his shot saved at close range by Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan

 

Mario Balotelli opens the scoring, netting his 1st goal for Liverpool to make it 1-0
Mario Balotelli opens the scoring, netting his 1st goal for Liverpool to make it 1-0

 

Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan spits out some water
Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan spits out some water

 

Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan fouls Javier Manquillo of Liverpool to concede a late penalty
Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan fouls Javier Manquillo of Liverpool to concede a late penalty

 

Steven Gerrard of Liverpool slots home a late penalty to secure a 2-1 victory
Steven Gerrard of Liverpool slots home a late penalty to secure a 2-1 victory

 

Steven Gerrard celebrates his late winner for Liverpool
Steven Gerrard celebrates his late winner for Liverpool

 

Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan looks dejected
Ludogorets goalkeeper Milan Borjan looks dejected

 

The next day, I returned to Liverpool…firstly, to collect my laptop charger after leaving it in the wire room at Anfield. Something I thought might take half an hour ended up taking less than two minutes, so I decided to head across town to do a couple of pictures I’d been meaning to do for a while now.

Firstly, a trip to Walton Hall Park, one of the proposed sites put forward by Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright for the club’s new stadium to be built on…

 

Walton Hall Park, the proposed site for Everton's new stadium plans
Walton Hall Park, the proposed site for Everton’s new stadium plans

 

Then I decided to visit the former home of Liverpool managerial legend Bill Shankly. In today’s mega-money world of football, the idea of a top class manager living in a semi-detached house on a quiet cul-de-sac can hardly be comprehended. Back then though, that’s just how it was…

 

The former home of Liverpool FC legend Bill Shankly
The former home of Liverpool FC legend Bill Shankly

 

The former home of Liverpool FC legend Bill Shankly
The former home of Liverpool FC legend Bill Shankly

 

Just around the corner are the playing fields named after him too…

 

The Bill Shankly Playing Fields
The Bill Shankly Playing Fields

 

The Bill Shankly Playing Fields
The Bill Shankly Playing Fields

 

The Bill Shankly Playing Fields
The Bill Shankly Playing Fields

 

Time was running away from me, and I was leaving late to get to Everton’s training session. I hopped back in the car and headed over to Finch Farm on the southern side of the city, for the obligatory 15 minutes afforded to us by UEFA. Manager Roberto Martinez spent most of the session overseeing things from afar before our time was up…

 

A stack of UEFA Europa League footballs
A stack of UEFA Europa League footballs

 

Everton manager Roberto Martinez checks his watch
Everton manager Roberto Martinez checks his watch

 

Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku

 

Samuel Eto'o
Samuel Eto’o

 

Manager Roberto Martinez takes a step back to oversee the training session
Manager Roberto Martinez takes a step back to oversee the training session

 

Everton players training at Finch Farm
Everton players training at Finch Farm

 

I travelled back to Merseyside for the fourth time in consecutive days the next evening to photograph Everton’s game against German side VfL Wolfsburg. The new, incredibly bright lights at Goodison Park have made such a difference to the way pictures look at night games there. Previously, the lights were weak, fairly dull and produced an inconsistent yellow cast all over the pitch. Now they illuminate every square yard of the pitch with a perfectly white light, allowing us to shoot whatever we want to shoot, wherever we want.

I went into the game with little idea of which way the result would go. I decided to cover the Germans’ attack for the first 45 minutes, staying put for Everton in the 2nd half. I settled on a corner where my view would be unobstructed by UEFA’s delightful extra officials, and just took what I could…

 

Fans flock past a lone piper as he plays his bagpipes
Fans flock past a lone piper as he plays his bagpipes

 

Seamus Coleman of Everton battles with Kevin De Bruyne of Wolfsburg
Seamus Coleman of Everton battles with Kevin De Bruyne of Wolfsburg

 

Leighton Baines of Everton battles with Daniel Caligiuri of Wolfsburg
Leighton Baines of Everton battles with Daniel Caligiuri of Wolfsburg

 

Leighton Baines scores Everton's 3rd goal with a penalty
Leighton Baines scores Everton’s 3rd goal with a penalty

 

Steven Naismith (2L) congratulates Leighton Baines on his goal
Steven Naismith (2L) congratulates Leighton Baines on his goal

 

Leighton Baines celebrates his 3rd goal with a whole host of teammates
Leighton Baines celebrates his 3rd goal with a whole host of teammates

 

Referee Luca Banti gets to grips with Kevin De Bruyne of Wolfsburg
Referee Luca Banti gets to grips with Kevin De Bruyne of Wolfsburg

 

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard shocks teammate Phil Jagielka
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard shocks teammate Phil Jagielka

 

Kevin Mirallas celebrates after scoring Everton's 4th goal
Kevin Mirallas celebrates after scoring Everton’s 4th goal

 

Kevin Mirallas salutes the crowd as he celebrates the 4th goal
Kevin Mirallas salutes the crowd as he celebrates the 4th goal
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Love these shots Simon! The one of Balotelli’s 1st goal is a corker!

    1. Cheers! When you get a goal picture through the net, your first instinct is to check back to make sure it’s in focus. They can very often be some of the best goal pictures you can get, as the ball comes towards you and into the net, but you have to anticipate that happening and switch to manual focus to ensure your AF doesn’t pick up the net as it tracks the player! *sigh of relief*

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