A couple of defeats, another potential injury and a late-returning attack: where’s the line between pre-season results and concern for the new campaign?
It was bound to happen, really. As much as supporters like to tell themselves and each other that “pre-season doesn’t matter,” the simple fact is that nobody likes losing.
Especially not a team who only did so once in the entire league season last year, and ended as champions of Europe.
So, after back-to-back losses on the tour in America, a few confused voices are to be expected: nobody wants to outright say there’s trouble ahead, for fear of earbashing via the aforementioned ‘pre-season’ rhetoric, but at the same time it’s easier being at ease. It’s easier when we win.
Put half a dozen past a lower-league side and the kids are immense. Lose to a continental side and the problems are evident and plentiful.
The easy “simmering down” tactic is to suggest the truth is somewhere in between, but in reality it appears Liverpool have made their decisions are sticking with it, knowing a bit of a chance is being taken.
Not quite a gamble, even a calculated one, but a conclusion has been reached that the boss and his coaches clearly feel is fine: early problems can be absorbed, later on the squad will be good enough to thrive.
We’re not going to be at full tilt at the start of the season, that’s undeniable. Even if Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah quickly build fitness, they won’t be at maximum capacity in the early weeks in terms of cohesion and that unthinking, free-flowing rhythm.
Sadio Mane will be another week or two behind, and in the meantime we’ll have to partly make-do in attack, partly rely on those who are fitter and sharper behind them to play a more proactive, protective role.
For even that to happen, though, the boss knows there’s a bit more of a journey to travel in the coming couple of weeks.
“It always happens a little bit, one thing is good and the other thing is not so good.
“The high press is really good; thank God they played football, we tried, we were there, it was all good, we jumped in the right moment. The midfield press is not so good in the moment because the distances are too big between our lines, it doesn’t work really like that. [There are] different reasons for that.
“The midfield press is actually the easiest kind of press, to be honest, if you have enough organisation and enough players. That didn’t look too good, that was the moment when we gave Sevilla too much of the game after the start.”
This aspect, the understanding of the team, is a more important factor right now.
Liverpool’s defensive work last season was incredible at times: tough to break down as a unit, good individually.
A staggered return for the back four shouldn’t prove too problematic after another three friendlies, and Alisson didn’t exactly have a long bedding-in period last term, either.
The goalkeeper, three of the back four and Fabinho are pretty certain starters once competitive action begins—Virgil van Dijk‘s partner, probably Joel Matip at least to start, being the slight unknown right now.
That’s the base to work from and it should be enough to avoid defeat much of the time.
Then the midfield press, the support from the second line and the actual attack make up the difference between constant wins and dropped points.
Maybe one signing, says Jurgen Klopp.
There’s still no indication as to the position or area of the team where that one might come in, but it’s the forward line which is easily in most need of boosting. If the boss is happy to go with what he’s got, so should we all be, but it’s still an assumption he’s making that Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri, Rhian Brewster or whoever else will have enough sporadic impacts straight away to offset the below-peak performance levels of the regular trio.
As hard as it is to just go with it, it must be kept in mind that results don’t matter.
The Dortmund game is easily quantifiable in this case: a draw, but with the Germans scoring an extra goal in the period when they had refreshed the team and the Reds gave extra minutes to fatigued players.
Not a big deal at all.
Sevilla was very different, given their incredible level of unprofessionalism and general bastard-ness in the tackle, but don’t equate the scorelines with not being good enough.
Do equate the spaces, the loss of possessions, the defensive mix-ups with that, though. Improvements there will come over the next two or three fixtures, for those regularly involved.
Training sessions will tail off in condition intensity and fitness-based approaches, too, as the competitive games get nearer, allowing for more technical and tactical work—thus, an increase in cohesion.
Similarly, those filling in up front will be able to exert more speed, more explosive actions, showing off their best traits on a more consistent basis.
Then, we may see if one or two can contribute in a meaningful way once the season is up and running.
Good starts to the campaign don’t depend on these late-July scorelines. But it will in part depend on Klopp having made the right call over adding to the attack.
The Reds secured European Cup number six back in June, seeing off Tottenham to end a magical 2018/19 campaign at Anfield.
Klopp was the undoubted catalyst behind the success, sealing his greatest achievement in management and doing it without former assistant Zeljko Buvac.
Stepping in to replace ‘The Brain’ of Klopp’s operation was Lijnders, who has taken to the role magnificently, showcasing his tactical acumen.
With the dust settled after Champions League glory and the new season almost upon us, Klopp and Lijnders sat down to look back at last season’s thrilling run.
It makes for fascinating viewing, with the pair in great spirits as they dissect the action and add a comic element to proceedings.
Klopp starts off by describing the day after the Champions League final as “one of the best of my life”, which included a bit of macaroni in tomato sauce with his family.
Sadio Mane‘s stunning effort away to Bayern Munich is rightly described as “unreal” by Klopp, who tips it to win Goal of the Year.
Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s assist against Barcelona is one Klopp says he “will never forget” and re-watching the post-match rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone leaves both the German and Lijnders speechless.
Jamie Webster’s singing style is perfectly compared to Liverpool’s all-action approach to games, while Madrid hero Divock Origi is lauded for his impact.
Then it’s time to focus on the aftermath of the final win over Spurs, with “the most Bobby Firmino thing ever” highlighted, following the Brazilian’s forward roll after the final whistle.
The calmness on show in Madrid is explained as the key behind the victory, with past experience of losing working in Liverpool’s favour.
As the duo look at the many Reds fans celebrating around the world, Klopp nails it by saying: “this club is SO big. You cannot understand how big it is”.
Finally, the incredible bus parade gets a mention, with the boss playing down his apparent drunkenness and admitting it took days for the experience to properly sink in.
The must-watch video is further proof of the safe hands that Liverpool find themselves in, with Klopp undeniably one of world football’s leading managers.
Lijnders is also clearly a special talent, though, and without his continued input the Reds would be worse off.
A 2-1 loss to Sevilla saw Liverpool fall to a second successive pre-season defeat, but it was the Spaniards’ unruly challenges which dominated the headlines.
The Reds were in Boston for the second game of their US tour, and the fourth so far this pre-season, on Sunday.
The game offered Jurgen Klopp’s men an opportunity to swiftly return to winning ways after succumbing to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund two days prior.
Divock Origi scored on the cusp of half-time to put Liverpool back on equal footing after Nolito had edged the Spanish side ahead, only for Alejandro Pozo to net late on and clinch victory for Sevilla.
However, while the match provided another platform for the players to boost their fitness ahead of the new season, the encounter was marred by Sevilla’s unwarranted physicality.
Here’s how the media viewed the Reds’ performance and the events which surrounded it on a sweltering day in Boston.Journalists were disturbed by the shocking ‘tackles’ on display from Sevilla…
There were a whole host of reckless and distasteful ‘tackles’ throughout the game where more than one warranted a red card, but Joris Gnagnon’s ‘challenge’ on Yasser Larouci rightly saw him given his marching orders.
Writing for ESPN, Melissa Reddy thought there would only be one lasting memory from the fixture, and it was not the goals or skill on show:
It will be the tackles that live long in the memory from the encounter rather than the goals.
Liverpool.com’s Kristian Walsh felt similarly having found the “challenge” on Larouci as one of “cowardice” which will mar any memory from the game:
There are no words for the cowardice of his challenge on Yasser Larouci. Larouci, 18, without a senior minute to his name.
It is something few will forget. After a fantastic weekend, it is a shame it will be remembered in the short-term for the night everything boiled over.
Likewise, the Mirror’s Chris McKenna was quick to reiterate that this was a pre-season friendly, not a “European Cup” final like Sevilla seemed to think it was:
Somebody should have told Sevilla that the outcome of this match didn’t matter.
Because, judging by the way they launched into tackles, it looked like they were playing for the European Cup.
For Dominic King, writing for the Daily Mail, it was surprising that only one player received a red card after Sevilla’s players displayed a “disgraceful” level of behaviour throughout:
The behaviour of some Sevilla players was disgraceful and it was a surprise that they only had one man sent-off.The media lauded the performance and confidence on show from Origi…
The Reds’ sole goal scorer on the day in Origi received widespread praise for his performance, where McKenna was quick to point out he is a player not short on confidence:
He looks like a player with a lot more confidence and is now going to be a vital weapon from the bench for the Reds.
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe is predicting the Belgian to have a hand in creating more lasting memories for the club in the season to come:
Divock Origi has looked the sharpest of all Liverpool’s strikers. In fact, he has looked as strong as anyone in any position.
The 24-year-old’s all-round game is rapidly improving, adding to his already established knack for goals.
He looks in the right shape to create plenty more memories for the club.
For This Is Anfield’s Karl Matchett, Origi’s form comes as a boost for the start of the season as Liverpool’s prolific attacking trio will likely need time to find their sharpness.
It’s great to see Origi showing goalscoring form over the summer, as we’ll need him to do the same once competitive action starts, with the regular three no doubt lacking sharpness.
Mignolet played the second half in goal, made a good double save early on and dealt well with aerial balls too.
Lovren showed a more restrained, mature performance than he has done in other pre-season games. The one mark against his name was the late winning goal, where he was caught woefully out of position against the counter-attack.Overall, there were mixed views on the Reds’ performance due to a host of ‘mitigating’ factors…
Matchett was of the view that Liverpool had a “mixed” performance against a side which offered a completely different test to those before them:
Less possession, more tracking and running, dealing with a side very good in the air in the first half: this was a completely new test for the summer and the Reds had a mixed time of matters, in fairness.
For Doyle, the Reds need to show signs of improvement, and quickly, as the “clock is ticking” ahead of the league opener:
For a variety of reasons, not least the conditions and the absentees, the Reds aren’t really firing at present.
The step-up in class of opponent on the US tour has exposed, understandably, the difference the missing players make to the squad.
But it’s clear improvement is now required. With less than three weeks to go until the start of the Premier League season, the clock is ticking.
It was another “disappointing” performance for Bascombe, despite taking the heat and training twice on the eve of a match into consideration:
Performances have been disappointing, regardless of mitigating factors.
And finally, Walsh was of similar mind that the Reds were not at their best, but the result was secondary after the blow to Larouci:
In truth, they struggled to regain a rhythm after the injury interruption. After the blow to Larouci, the result really does not matter, even to 10-man Sevilla.
Jurgen Klopp was eager not to “create headlines” with his view on a “full throttle” challenge from Sevilla’s Joris Gnagnon which saw Yasser Larouci stretchered off.
The 18-year-old was scythed down midway through the second half of a 2-1 loss in Boston, and after attempting to stand crumpled back to the turf in agony.
Carried off the pitch as Gnagnon was accosted by the entire Liverpool squad, before being shown a straight red card, incredibly protesting the decision before reluctantly walking.
It remains to be seen how severe Larouci’s injury is, though Klopp told reporters in his post-match press conference that the Algerian, who has been making a case for a first-team role this season, was “lucky.”
Klopp shared words with Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui in the aftermath, and Virgil van Dijk led a furious tirade against Gnagnon himself at full-time, with the manager reflecting after the game.
“[I would] create headlines with the things I think about the situation,” he told reporters.
“Yasser looks like he was lucky, but of course, how it always is, we have to wait a little bit.
“He couldn’t keep on playing, in the dressing room he was OK, same with Harry [Wilson], who got a knock on his jaw.
“Not too cool, [Harry] should be OK as well. That’s the situation.
“I would love that pretty early in the season that you write a story about these games without my headlines. Whatever I say would be the headline.
“The football could be much better. You know in general I don’t like overly hard games.
“The challenge is there to win the ball, there are rules. I don’t want to say anything about this specific game.
“No headlines, ‘Jurgen Klopp…’, I’ll never be able to holiday in Spain again!”
Questioned further on the challenge in particular, Klopp described it as “full throttle,” but elaborated on his conversation with a club doctor on Larouci’s injury.
“I don’t know 100 percent, but it looks like it was lucky,” he continued.
“I spoke shortly with the doctor, that’s what he said, but we will see.”
Adding in his own post-match briefing, Lopetegui said: “I worry about the player but I asked Jurgen, he said the player is OK, no bad injury, so I’m happy for that.”
Gnagnon took to Twitter to issue an apology in his native French, labelling his challenge as “odious”:
— Joris Gnagnon (@Gnagnon_39) July 22, 2019
“I would like to publicly apologise to Liverpool, the player’s family and [the club’s] supporters,” he wrote.
“This an odious act on my part, whatever the reason, [and should not be seen] on a football field. All my prayers are directed towards the player and this family.”
Larouci left Fenway Park with his leg in a protective boot, with the left-back due a scan on Monday.
Liverpool lost 2-1 to Sevilla on the second game of their US pre-season tour, but it was concern for teenager Yasser Larouci post-match that dominated after a horrific challenge.
Fenway Park, Pre-season friendly (4)
21 July, 2019
Goals: Origi 44′; Nolito 37′, Pozo 89′.Origi the poacher
Something we haven’t seen anywhere near enough of: Divock Origi scoring close-range goals, ‘proper striker’s goals’ as your average British pundit might term them.
A few — Everton, Newcastle — were all the more important and memorable because of the lateness of them when he netted last term, but he largely got them only because he got as high upfield as possible, under the crossbar almost.
Liverpool’s style of play doesn’t always lend itself to a No. 9 playing in that central, predatory zone, so at set-pieces in particular it’s vital that he (or any other forward) does exactly that.
A one-touch finish, an instinctive know-how on how to bury a chance, unthinking and without second chances needed; they can often be the difference between one point and three.
It’s great to see Origi showing goalscoring form over the summer, as we’ll need him to do the same once competitive action starts, with the regular three no doubt lacking sharpness.Fiesty fixture a different type of test
Note for future pre-season planners at Liverpool: if the main objectives are to ‘build fitness’ and ‘avoid injuries’, perhaps a good idea is to avoid any team Ever Banega plays for.
The first half at Fenway Park was an entirely different—and ridiculous—challenge for Liverpool compared to the three previous pre-season friendlies, as they had to cope with not just heat and humidity but also a far more aggressive opponent.
Aggressive is probably a nice way of putting it; some tackles were borderline reckless and Banega absolutely should have been red-carded, regardless of it being a friendly, for a double-arm smash on Harry Wilson‘s face.
Hopefully no lasting damage there, nor for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s ankle or any of the many Reds’ backs which were barged and clattered in mid-air challenges.
The worst was saved until last: Joris Gnagnon and a truly horrendous ‘tackle’, a vicious and appalling kick on Yasser Larouci which was deservedly shown a straight red card.
Stretchered off, there’s now a worry over the fitness of the young left-back who had been performing largely superbly this pre-season. Klopp said post-match that it seems he has been “lucky” that it’s not serious as it might have been.
Less possession, more tracking and running, dealing with a side very good in the air in the first half: this was a completely new test for the summer and the Reds had a mixed time of matters, in fairness.Seizing opportunities
It’s not just about the youngsters proving their worth in pre-season; plenty of experienced seniors want to earn their starting spot again this term after being marginalised in 18/19.
Mignolet played the second half in goal, made a good double save early on and dealt well with aerial balls too.
Lovren showed a more restrained, mature performance than he has done in other pre-season games, with one clearance inside the six-yard box particularly noteworthy. The one mark against his name was the late winning goal, where he was caught woefully out of position against the counter-attack.
As mentioned, Origi was good in the first half with a well-taken goal, but also with his movement and hold-up play which was excellent at times.
A few good turns and clever pieces of skill had the fans applauding, too, and he’s clearly heading into the 19/20 campaign as an icon in the stands.Fenway hoodoo!
The script was supposed to be slightly different: Liverpool at Fenway Park, the famous team and the famous stadium, all the off-pitch links between the Kop and Green Monster, the owners, the many years without the coveted title.
Fans and players celebrating a win at Fenway would be quite something, as far as pre-season goes.
Except, in three attempts now, Liverpool haven’t managed to taste success—or even avoid defeat—at the home of the Boston Red Sox.
Two defeats to Roma and now one to Sevilla; it doesn’t amount to much, or anything, in the scheme of the season, of course, but it’s still a frustration at the time and probably not what the corporate suits had in mind when establishing the link-up.
Maybe next time we visit the States we should take Tranmere with us and play that annual game there.New York next and last chance for the youth?
Usually, by the time the Reds end their pre-season tour overseas and come back for a final friendly or two, it’s all about the first-team squad.
The younger lads who bulk out the squad to enable a full 11 changes in earlier games generally revert to either training support or game time with the U23s—which means the game against Sporting might be their last opportunity to show Jurgen Klopp they should remain around for longer.
The trip to New York should result in lower temperatures for the fixture, perhaps lending itself to a quicker tempo in the match—though that will depend also on the training sessions which come beforehand.
The hope will be to end the tour on a positive note, with a win and some good form to head off to France and the Evian training camp with.
Liverpool lost 2-1 to Sevilla on Sunday night in Boston, in a pre-season friendly which was anything but, as the Spanish side took a ridiculous approach.
Pre-Season Friendly (4), Fenway Park
July 21, 2019
Origi 44′ (assist – Phillips)
Taking to the field in black, the Reds lined up with their strongest side of pre-season so far, though Jurgen Klopp made the surprise decision to start Andy Lonergan between the sticks.
The 35-year-old will have been grateful to start in the shade, as the Boston heat set in, and he was drawn into a decent low save early on, met with applause from a busy Fenway Park.
Sevilla had the better of the chances in the opening half-hour, with Ever Banega crafting openings from his role in the middle of the park and Liverpool forced to attack on the break.
And the Reds were behind with less than 10 minutes to go before the break, as the ball fell to Nolito in space in the penalty area, and his right-footed finish gave Lonergan no chance.
Larouci and Jones stood out in the early stages, with the midfielder’s ease on the ball allowing Liverpool more time and space as they looked to unpick the Sevilla defence.
Industrious play from Rhian Brewster provided Jones with a great opportunity in the box, but the 18-year-old was denied by a brilliant stop from Tomas Vaclik.
Tensions rose further as strong challenges continued, and it piqued as Joris Gnagnon slashed at Larouci’s ankles, leaving the teenager to be stretchered off as he picked up a straight red card.
A straight red card, for taking down a teenager, in a friendly.
It was a moment which encapsulated the game, with the result secondary as ever in pre-season, but more so in Boston on Sunday as a largely tepid 90 minutes of football was marred by Sevilla’s undue physicality.
The Liga hopefuls capped the evening with a late winner from Alejandro Pozo.
TIA Man of the Match: Andy Lonergan
Liverpool: Lonergan (Mignolet 46′); Alexander-Arnold (Hoever 46′), Phillips (Gomez 46′), Van Dijk (Lovren 46′), Robertson (Larouci 46′, Duncan 80′); Wijnaldum (Fabinho 46′), Henderson (Milner 46′), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lewis 46′); Wilson (Jones 46′), Woodburn (Kent 46′), Origi (Brewster 46′)
Subs not used: Atherton, Matip
Next Match: Sporting CP (N) – Pre-Season Friendly (5) – Wednesday, July 24, 2019, 1.05am (BST)
One game down, two to go—now Liverpool should be really stepping matters up with both fitness and performance levels on their US Tour.
Forget the Dortmund defeat, it really doesn’t matter and spells of the game were good from a Liverpool perspective. But the showings, in five-minute stretches or in 45, of skill, endurance, understanding, maturity—they all do matter.
We want, by the time we rock up at Wembley—Anfield South, for some—for that greed to be back in full force, for the desire to beat opponents, to be the best and to lift all silverware, minor or major, to be on show.
That means we should see a lift in intensity, duration and impact from some of the players now, especially with those recently returned seniors having a full week’s training in them at this point.
Here’s what fans want to see in the upcoming games against Sevilla in Boston and Sporting CP in New York.A first win at Fenway
It’s the home of the Red Sox, also owned by Liverpool’s owners FSG, which kind of makes Fenway Park our home away from home.
This will be the third time the Reds have played at the famous ground, one of the most notable stadiums in the United States.
But we’ve yet to win there.
Twice the Reds have been defeated, by Roma on both occasions, so hopefully a change in opponent will yield a different outcome.
As we’ve noted above, the scoreline at 90 minutes isn’t really worth anything—but neither do we want the team to be in the habit of losing games. Positivity and self-belief are powerful tools, and it’s always nice to build up anticipation for the season ahead.
Plus, it’s always nice to put five or six goals past teams who have previously caused us disappointment in a European final, so there’s that, too.Debut for Sepp van den Berg
He’s largely had to make do with training, interviews and waiting since signing for the Reds, but hopefully we’ll see a senior debut for Sepp van den Berg before the squad leaves the States.
A lack of international clearance denied him the chance to participate in the domestic friendlies and against Dortmund.
With the Sevilla fixture taking place just 48 hours after that last match, and with it being the weekend, there’s no guarantee he’ll be available on Sunday night either.
Fingers crossed the Dutchman gets a run-out at some point on tour, though; it’ll be a boost to his integration into the squad and the fans will be able to see what he’s like as a player.
And he has plenty of competition for places, too, so he needs to show the boss what he can do on the pitch!An hour for the latecomers
Five came back a little later than the rest, and so only have 30 minutes of game time to their name thus far.
Full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold may need to build more endurance on the training ground first, such are the demands on them during the season—though being younger than the other three might also mean they get up to top gear a little quicker, too.
Either way, across the two remaining tour game it would be ideal for them to get an hour-long run-out at some point, as they’ll be five of the most important players once the season gets underway.
The more game time in pre-season, then, the better.Rhian scoring from open play
Three appearances, four goals, great start. There’s more to come from Rhian Brewster, who is quickly showing why he has been held in such regard even without making a senior appearance and while being injured.
Against Dortmund he scored, yes, but from the penalty spot.
What we’d love to see now, against these stronger, more capable teams than Bradford and Tranmere, is the capacity for the teenager to trouble experienced and high-quality defensive lines.
We want to see just how well, at this point, he stacks up with his movement, his touch, his anticipation—all that against the likes of Seb Coates, Simon Kjaer or Sergi Gomez and the wily, powerful, ruthless approach they’ll bring.
A good performance or goal in open play against this type of defence from Brewster would be impressive indeed.
For that matter, given he’s likely to start the season playing a much bigger role, the same could be said for Divock Origi.Clean bill of health all round
No injuries, thanks. That’s what we really want: the boss to have a fully fit squad to choose from, with plenty of players in form heading into the 2019/20 campaign.
Jurgen Klopp will sort them, select them and shape them into a team capable of winning, and the best chance for that to happen will be for them all to be available.
Already we’ve had a few go down from the second string: Paul Glatzel’s unfortunate knee injury, Bobby Duncan missing training.
More intense training sessions and more minutes on the pitch are needed and necessary, but getting through them all unscathed and ready for action by early August is the main priority.
After that, it’s another ten months to look forward to of goals, hugs, excitement and optimism!
It’s fair to say Virgil van Dijk has been worth every penny of the £75 million Liverpool paid to sign him—and he’s intent on getting even better.
Rarely do players have such an immediate and sustained impact on the entire team, but the Dutchman has proven the perfect player for this Reds side.
Thankfully, he sees it the same way: the club, the fans, the players and the coaching staff are all huge factors for him being able to perform to his best level, and the No. 4 wants to stay and achieve continued success at Anfield.
The centre-back was a stand-out performer in 2018/19, not just for Liverpool but anywhere in Europe, culminating in him winning the PFA Player of the Year award.
In turn, that has led to suggestions he’s in the running for the Ballon d’Or, but big Virgil says as he can’t control it, he’s not concerning himself with it—though it might be time defenders got recognition again.
“To get the PFA Player of the Year is a fantastic honour, it’s the highest honour you can get because it’s voted for by your fellow peers. I said it back then as well, I would trade it for the Champions League. Luckily, I didn’t have to,” he told LiverpoolFC.com.
“It’s an honour if people are talking about it, but what can I do? I have no influence on anything. The people that have an influence on it, they have to decide who’s going to win it.
“I can’t deny that I’ve had a pretty good season last year, so the only thing I can do now is just focus on the new season, getting fit, stay fit and hopefully get an even better season than I had last year.
“I can understand the fact that normally strikers or No. 10s win these kind of awards because it’s more attractive to see. But maybe the time has come to change it.”
It’s not just form which matters to winning those awards, of course, it’s trophies—and the Dutchman formed a pillar of the team which lifted old Big Ears in Madrid back in June.
Van Dijk’s biggest emotion and best memories from the final against Spurs?
“I think when the final whistle went there was a relief, crazy feeling – I can’t really describe.
“But the day after on the parade, that was unforgettable. So many people were out there and welcoming us back and cheering us on. It was something special. I will never forget it in my whole life.”
You and us both, Virgil.
But Liverpool has never been about settling, and now there’s a new campaign to look forward to and new challenges ahead.
Van Dijk is clear about the next step: find more consistency, more quality, more silverware. He had no doubts about moving to the club in the first place and sees no reason to change his mind in that regard.
“I saw the quality Liverpool has and, combined with the fans, we can be such a fantastic and difficult team to beat.
“To be in a final within the first six months I arrived was a big bonus, but to win the Champions League one-and-a-half years after I arrived is something I want to build on.
“I want to achieve so many good things with this team. We have a fantastic team, great players, fantastic manager. On top of that, we have an amazing support that will always be there. It makes it difficult for any team that we’re going to face.
“Stay fit, play as many games as possible, play consistent. [They’re] my personal targets.
“As a team we’re going to try to compete in every competition and obviously it’s going to be hard because there are so many and the league is so tough as well, but the only thing we can do is try. We will give everything that we’ve got and we have the quality as well. We’ll see where that leads us.
“It’s not that we’re not going to try this year, it’s not that we’re going away. We’re going to try to do even better than we did last year.”
An even better Virgil is something we can all get on board with—and given the influence he has had on the team so far, if he improves, it’s fair to suggest so might several others.
And if that’s the case, fans can anticipate the possibility of celebrating another major title at the end of 19/20.
Pre-season has been an opportunity for fringe and young players to impress so far, but with more seniors returned and ready for involvement, it’ll be harder than ever to make an impression.
Even so, with new signings far less forthcoming this summer than in previous years, there’s a case to be made for a couple of young talents to step up and help boost Jurgen Klopp‘s squad this season for Liverpool.
For Jones, it’s a second pre-season with the first team and last year he impressed as a precocious, though sometimes inconsistent, attacking midfielder. He ended up making his senior debut during the 2018/19 season and now wants to take the next step: being a regular part of the first-team squad.
It doesn’t get much harder than breaking into the picture for the European champions, though, as he told the club website.
“Being a young, local lad, it has always been my dream to get into any Liverpool team – but this team is definitely one of the best I’ve seen growing up.
“For any young kid that is down at the Academy, the next step is to get to Melwood – and after that, it’s about staying there. The players I am around help me all the time and have helped me become a better player.
“I’m going out there and giving it my all because I know there is a massive season coming up and I am trying to be part of the team.
“It’s better than ever. Last year was a taste of what it can be like, but now I am living the dream – I am out here and I am 100 per cent confident that I am giving it my all, trying to catch the eye of the people I need to.”
Chief among those whose eye he needs to catch is, of course, Klopp—but his trusted backroom staff will each have their take on a young player’s readiness: mental state, physical capacity, tactical intelligence.
It’s a step by step process to proving a starlet can become a star, but pre-season is a great proving ground. So far, Jones has impressed both as a No. 8 and, against Dortmund, in the attacking line—now consistently decent displays against the bigger, better teams on tour will only help him show Klopp he can contribute.
Alongside him in attack and scoring against Dormtund was, of course, Rhian Brewster.
The striker netted a fantastic penalty in an otherwise quiet half-hour outing, but that took his tally to four goals in three matches…and really, only two half-matches and this latest 30 minutes.
As a ratio it’s impressive, but Brewster’s work ethic, movement and link play have also caught the eye.
Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho was part of England’s U17 World Cup-winning squad along with Brewster and says he knew his friend would net the penalty due to the hours of practice he puts in—a good sign for fans to hear, as if they needed more proof of Brewster’s determination to improve after his injury rehab.
“I knew it was going in as soon as he put the ball in his hands,” said Sancho to ESPN. “I’ve seen him do it all the time, top corner. I just knew what was coming.
“He spends time after training, practising and practising his technique. I always used to see him out on the pitches. Penalties, free kicks, he took them all.”
Whether Brewster gets to take any set pieces once competitive action is underway remains to be seen, but there is precedent at Liverpool for those who have proven their worth in training to do it in-game, of course—just look at another Academy graduate.
For penalties, though, Brewster will at least be behind James Milner in the order of merit—and Milner is one of those who will be ensuring the young striker does everything possible to achieve what his talent suggests he’s capable of.
Speaking to the Echo, the Reds’ vice-captain said that while the teenager is clearly gifted, he’s trying to achieve a difficult task: coming back from injury and not just reaching his previous level, but being far better than that, good enough to break into the senior team.
“To come in here and score goals in pre-season is great and it has given him a lift but now it is the start of it.
“He has got a great squad around him, he has learned off the manager and he needs to take everything in every day. Every day is an opportunity to prove himself and improve again.
“When you’re out for a long time from youth team football and you’re trying to get back to where he was, that’s hard enough. But Rhian’s not trying to get back to where he was, he is trying to get back to a level to play for the first team and at a team that plays at a tempo like we do. It’s not easy.”
As well as improve his own game, Milner makes a key point: he’s got to fit in to a successful team who have a unique style. Moreover, he’s trying to provide competition for one of the most versatile, impressive, consistent and complete forwards in world football: Roberto Firmino.
It’s a lot to take in, so it’s just as well Brewster has a good squad of leaders around him—and Milner makes it clear he’ll step in to deliver a telling message if Brewster thinks he has ‘made it’ too early!
“He’s trying to learn the position as well. We play different to a lot of other teams. Obviously he’s a different player to Bobby (Firmino) but he’s a goalscorer and that’s the hardest thing to do in football.”
“There’s not many better strikers in the world to learn from than Bobby and watching him, how he does the defensive job and the runs he makes. Rhian is a different player to Bobby but he still has to do the job that Bobby does so well – to set the press off and be in the position to block the number six.
“Rhian’s a goalscorer, you see the positions he takes up, he just needs minutes, he needs game time and he needs to be training, learning and taking everything in. He listens to the guys around him who are trying to help him.
“It’s a long path to get there and he is in among it straight away. If he wasn’t as grounded as he is that could be a problem but the good thing is he is and he has got hunger.
“And if he doesn’t have that and maybe wobbles for one second he has got plenty of senior players around him that will give him a kick up the arse.”
Jones, Brewster and all the other young players at the club couldn’t really wish for better names to look up to.
From the proven success of the manager, to the longevity and influence of Milner and the unbelievable technical and mental ability shown by the likes of Firmino, Virgil van Dijk or Alisson—there’s someone for every youngster to look up to.
Plus, of course, Milner’s motivational boots to remain wary of.
Liverpool have arrived in Boston for the second stop of their pre-season tour of the United States, with Sevilla a familiar opponent at Fenway Park on Sunday.
Sunday, July 21, 2019 – 6pm (EDT), 11pm (BST)
Fenway Park, Boston
Pre-Season Friendly (4)
The Reds suffered their first defeat of the summer on Friday night as they lost 3-2 to Borussia Dortmund in South Bend, an outcome bizarrely described as a “setback” by some outlets.
Of course, the focus during this US tour is not results, but particular aspects of performances, individual battles and the buildup of match fitness ahead of 2019/20.
A victory over Sevilla on Sunday evening would be another step forward, however, as many of Jurgen Klopp‘s senior players return to the fold.
It could be that some make their first starts of pre-season at Fenway Park, providing Klopp with a better picture of his strongest side heading into the Community Shield clash with Man City on August 4.
This should also serve as another opportunity for the Reds’ young talents to shine, especially at the spiritual home of the club’s owners.Team News
Coming off the substitutes’ bench on the hour, the key quintet endured 30 minutes of intense heat as they get back up to speed after a short break following international duty.
That Klopp gave his starting lineup more than a half for the first time this summer suggests this could be the way forward for the rest of the tour.
Furthermore, youngsters such as Yasser Larouci, Curtis Jones and Adam Lewis will be given further opportunities to impress.
Adam Lallana (dead leg) and Bobby Duncan (foot) were both ruled out of the clash with Dortmund due to minor injuries, and missed training on Saturday along with Nathaniel Clyne and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It is also unclear if Sepp van den Berg has received FIFA clearance in time for his debut.Liverpool Squad vs. Sevilla
Goalkeepers: Mignolet, Lonergan, Atherton, Ojrzynski
Defenders: Van Dijk, Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Phillips, Van den Berg*, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Clyne*, Larouci, Lewis
Midfielders: Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain*, Milner, Lallana*, Jones, Woodburn
Forwards: Origi, Brewster, Wilson, Kent, Duncan*
* Could miss out.Opposition
Liverpool have met Sevilla three times in the past three years, but the Liga outfit have changed significantly since their first clash in Klopp’s reign.
They have gone through seven managers since Unai Emery’s departure, with the current incumbent being ex-Spain boss Julen Lopetegui, who started his new job this summer.
Their on-pitch personnel has gone through makeover, too, with the return of sporting director Monchi seeing 11 players arrive this summer so far, while eight have departed.
Among the new signings are Lucas Ocampos, Oliver Torres, Fernando and Luuk de Jong, and all are likely to feature against Liverpool.
Sevilla finished sixth in LaLiga last season, but will be aiming higher in Lopetegui’s first campaign in charge; so far in pre-season, they have clocked victories over Simba, Reading and FC Dallas.Fenway Park
Liverpool return to Fenway Park for the first time since 2014, with this their third visit to the baseball stadium in the past decade.
Home to the Boston Red Sox, the 37,949-capacity venue is frequented by the Reds’ owners, Fenway Sports Group, who bought the franchise from the Yawkey Trust in 2002.
Back in 2014, Brendan Rodgers oversaw a 1-0 loss to Roma at the Massachusetts stadium, while two years before it was a 2-1 defeat to the same side.
This time around, FSG will be hoping for a win.Klopp’s View
Speaking after the Reds’ 3-2 loss to Dortmund in South Bend, Klopp discussed the development of football in America, but was not enamoured by the state of the converted pitches:
“We have a different history—our football, soccer, history is longer and yours in other sports is longer, so it’s no criticism from our side.
“I think each game we can play and use as a kind of commercial for this wonderful game, we should play.
“We just have to make sure in the future we can do it on a little bit better surface.TV Info
Liverpool vs. Sevilla will be live on LFCTV and LFCTV Go in the UK, with coverage from 10.15pm (BST) and kickoff at 11pm; it is on B/R Live in the US, with kickoff at 6pm (EDT).
This Is Anfield’s Jack Lusby will be providing coverage from Fenway Park in our matchday liveblog.
Stay tuned to This Is Anfield on Sunday for team news, updates and more ahead of kickoff.
Sancho was among the starters as Dortmund provided the Reds with the first opponents of their pre-season tour of United States on Friday night.
The 19-year-old has been a revelation since leaving Manchester for Germany in 2017, scoring 14 goals and laying on 23 assists in 55 games for Klopp’s former club.
Klopp was interested in signing Sancho ahead of his departure from Man City, but difficulty in negotiations between top English sides, and likely the teenager’s desire for immediate first-team football, squandered any move.
At the Notre Dame Stadium, the No. 7 lined up against one of Klopp’s new young hopes, with Larouci serving as Liverpool’s starting left-back in every pre-season friendly so far.
A misjudgement in the buildup to Jacob Bruun Larsen’s goal aside, it was another impressive showing from the 18-year-old Algerian—particularly in the 45 minutes Sancho played.
Meanwhile, Brewster came off the bench among 10 changes for the Reds on the hour, and stepped up confidently to score the penalty which brought the score to 3-2, which is how it stayed.
Speaking after the game, Klopp described Sancho as “one of the biggest talents in world football,” and in this identified why Larouci and Brewster are among his favourites this pre-season.
“He’s an exceptional talent but he’s not the only one in England at the moment,” he told reporters in South Bend.
“That age group has already a few—Rhian Brewster is the same age. Raheem Sterling, for example.
“I don’t want to forget any wingers, but there are a lot of talents; young and very, very promising players in England.
“There is no doubt about the potential of Jadon Sancho. His speed and body control at the highest speed is his main strength.
“Being good in big spaces and in small spaces makes you a pretty interesting player—and that’s what Jadon is.
“Yasser, our 18-year-old left-back, played against one of the biggest talents in world football and did pretty well the whole night.
“The pitch helped a little but, but still he did really well.”
Little more needs to be said of Brewster this pre-season: the 19-year-old is proving why Klopp has so much faith in him, despite having yet to make his competitive debut for the Reds.
But that he was able to compose himself so swiftly and fire his spot-kick into the top corner is a marker of his ability in a friendly which was a step up from previous clashes with Tranmere and Bradford.
And for Larouci, who spent most of last season with the under-18s, these games against high-profile opponents in the US could earn him a first-team role as Andy Robertson‘s backup.
The youngster coped well up against Sancho, and next time out it could be Sevilla’s Munir, in Boston.
Jake Cain brought his tally to four goals in three games as the Liverpool under-18s sealed a dramatic 4-3 win over Celtic in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
The young Reds headed to Glasgow this week to continue their pre-season preparations as Barry Lewtas oversees a much-changed squad from his maiden campaign.
Rhys Williams, Tom Clayton, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Jack Bearne, Abdi Sharif, Fidel O’Rourke and Luis Longstaff are all with the under-23s this summer, and Bobby Duncan, Yasser Larouci, Vitezslav Jaros and Paul Glatzel with the first team.
This has left Lewtas to call upon a host of new faces from the under-16s ranks, with Layton Stewart, James Norris, Tyler Morton, Dominic Corness and Oakley Cannonier among those.
But the standout for Liverpool’s U18s so far has been Jake Cain, the 17-year-old midfielder whose goals and creative prowess proved crucial last season.
On Saturday in Scotland, Cain scored his fourth goal of pre-season so far, following on from a pair of free-kicks in the 4-0 win over Burton Albion and another strike in the 5-0 thrashing of Bury.
Further goals from Norris, Stewart and Leighton Clarkson—Cain’s midfield partner—helped the young Reds to a 4-1 lead at half-time, but they were forced to hold on for a 4-3 victory in the second half.
It was a win Lewtas described as “a real good workout” and this is exactly what the manager will be hoping for as he builds for a strong 2019/20.
Liverpool finished second in the U18 Premier League under Lewtas’ guidance last season, losing out on the title to Derby due to goal difference, while they lifted the FA Youth Cup with a win over Man City in the final.
Losing the likes of Jaros, Williams, Larouci, Longstaff, Glatzel and Duncan will be a big blow, but this is the challenge the ex-Wigan and Bolton coach is tasked with.
Replacing them—with Stewart and, if they return, Bearne and O’Rourke, the next big hopes up front after Glatzel and Duncan’s 59-goal season last time out—will be key.
But retaining the midfield core of Cain and Clarkson can aid him significantly, and with the young duo primed to take even more responsibility this season, they can hope to catch Jurgen Klopp‘s eye in the future.
With Cain equalling Rhian Brewster‘s goal tally so far this summer, those numbers will certainly boost his chances of doing so.
Almost at the halfway point of pre-season, we can start to assess who is making a claim for future involvement and where the next steps of progression will be.
The cliches ring true for summer games and training sessions: the results don’t matter, the fitness and performances do—at least to some extent.
For youngsters and those returning to action at senior level, it’s about staking a claim, impressing the boss and serving reminders of what they can bring to the team, sometimes even to themselves.
Getting legs in the minutes, through hard sessions and hot conditions, will stand the Reds in good stead for a season where upwards of 60 games can be expected and another major push for honours will be hoped for.
Already there are points and players worth noting in both regards, and more questions to be answered over the coming two weeks or three weeks.Oxlade-Chamberlain starting to show signs
If there’s one player fans, and probably Klopp, would love to see reach his full potential in 19/20, it’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
His powerful runs, goalscoring potential and capacity to break the lines on and off the ball are a massive aspect of midfield play which the Reds all too often didn’t have last year.
An Ox in full flight is a wonderous sight: good instincts to win possession and immediately surge, into space and away from a challenge, opening up play and encouraging others to make their move.
The signs are good, but intermittent at this stage—as was likely to be the case. This is, remember, the first time the (now) No. 15 has put together three successive starts in a long, long while.
Keep it going and we’ve got a genuine upgrade to last year’s midfield in place.The quietly impressive teen of pre-season
Rhian Brewster has been stealing the headlines for a foul-goal salvo so far in the summer games, while there are four-way battles for wing and full-back spots between Kent, Wilson, Larouci and Lewis.
But in among those more oft-voiced impressions on younger players has been a succession of three displays of impressive tenacity, confident skill and control, versatility and even end product.
Curtis Jones, as a No. 8 in the domestic friendlies and in the attacking line against Dortmund, has gone about his work in exemplary fashion.
He hasn’t made the big headlines just yet, maybe because he’s not a long-awaited return or plays in a position a senior has departed from, but he has been showing more consistency to his game than he did in parts of 17/18.
Again, it’s a case of keeping on doing his best work: presumably working hard in training, catching the eye of the boss and now, in America against bigger teams and senior pros, showing his undoubted ability on the pitch.A break from summer tradition
Briefly mentioned after the first game or two, but more evident now: the players coming back, coming through and coming into the club are all comfortable and expected to play a particular way in a particular system.
The 4-3-3 has dominated pre-season, with no real alterations as yet.
During the friendly run of games it’s often noted how managers will try out something else: a low block for later in matches, a back three for the odd game, a front two to ensure certain players get enough minutes.
Not so, thus far, with Adam Lewis slotting into midfield against BVB and Jones and Ben Woodburn pushing into attack, to ensure the shape remained the same rather than any change of overall system.
Maybe we’ll see one or two instances of different formations once the regular starters are back for the final couple of friendlies, just to ensure familiarity for when it’s required as an in-game change.
For now, though, it’s Liverpool’s regular shape and style and little else besides.Seniors expected to lead the way
By this point, the first wave of senior players who have been in pre-season training since the start would normally be expected to be playing a leading role.
Partly that’s in application, hard work and progress in training—which we can’t see or judge—and partly that’s in understanding, cohesion and technical ability in matches…which we can.
It has been a mixed bag thus far, however.
On the other hand, Simon Mignolet has been decent in goal, making fine saves against Dortmund—and in the absence of other first-team ‘keepers he’s taking the lion’s share of minutes.
There’s still debate over his future, so would it be worth continuing to dole out experience to youngster Dan Atherton, even if he’s not first-choice at his Academy level? At least there can be a measure of progress for him, something to learn from.
The next two games Stateside might reveal a lot more detail about Klopp’s plans for certain fringe senior names.Boston and New York
Fenway Park, our cross-Atlantic second home.
There, Liverpool fans could tick a few more boxes: a potential debut for Sepp van den Berg, a definite debut for the third kit and a first start of the summer for Virgil, Hendo et al.
Regardless of scorelines, Liverpool are better than both their upcoming opponents, Sevilla and Sporting, though doubtless there will be some interested glances at how Bruno Fernandes fares if he’s still at the latter when we meet.
Pre-season has been productive and interesting, if not explosive and exciting, to this point.
As we get closer to August 4 and 9, however, we’ll hope to see more cohesion, more finesse, more certainty about the Reds’ play ahead of another momentous campaign.
After several near-misses, Jurgen Klopp finally landed his first piece of silverware at Liverpool on 1 June—now says there will be no let-up in the pursuit of success.
Even last year it was another case of could-have-been, as the Reds fell just one point short of the Premier League title—but there the runners-up hard-luck story ended.
A few days later Liverpool were champions once more, with Klopp’s team beating Spurs 2-0 in Madrid to land a sixth European Cup.
The boss told the Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe that he had thought he was fine just a few days after the Kyiv final—but the aftermath of Madrid proved otherwise.
“Last year my agent called me on holiday and said, ‘How are you?’ and I said, ‘Fine. I am over it. I could not feel better if the cup was next to me’.
“Now I know that was a lie. It is a big difference when the cup stands next to me!”
That win, and the epic celebrations which followed, cannot be the end of the story though.
The boss has been adamant all along that last season was only to be the first chance, not the last one, and he has reiterated that stance now: there’s lots more to win and the team is built to do so.
Of course, so are plenty of other teams, but Liverpool have their way of working and Klopp will ensure it remains the same in 2019/20.
“Nobody should be worried about us and that we don’t stay greedy. There are many reasons for staying greedy.
“We tried so many things to win different things and it worked out. The Champions League is the biggest cup that I see in world football, apart from the World Cup, but that’s a different competition.
“It’s like this – you get now a bit of a feeling how it is and you want to have it all the time.
“The attitude doesn’t change. You know how we came there, we had to dig in. We are not the best team in Europe, but we won the competition so yes we are the best team.
“There are teams in the competition that are mainly built for winning the Champions League and they didn’t do it – teams like PSG, Barcelona. Bayern Munich talk about nothing else.
“They won the double in Germany but nobody was happy with the season because they lost to us in the last 16. We were not like this. We wanted to put it right. That’s the truth.”
Klopp is no stranger to success, despite that long wait for a trophy of late.
But he feels that the wait, the near-misses, can make it all worthwhile in the end—and it’s a theme which has been oft-repeated during his managerial reigns in Germany and England.
“My career is like that. At Mainz we didn’t get promoted twice, then we were promoted the third time. That was like a party three times better.
“It was better for Dortmund not to be champions a year earlier than we were. It was the right time.
“And now I think this was our right time because we were ready as a team. The season before we were a big surprise to everyone and ourselves. This time was not like this.”
Of course, with the Reds having finished runners-up in the Premier League last term, fans and players alike will be hoping that the trend continues with Klopp almost winning, then finally achieving, the biggest aim.
If that’s the case, even June’s bus parade might be bettered in 10 months’ time if Liverpool finally end their long wait for a 19th league title.
Klopp naturally isn’t ruling it out—and referenced his impromptu singing with his coaching staff in Kyiv a year ago as to how things can change. Fans can rest assured that one of the very best in the business will ensure the team go full tilt for success in 19/20.
“I couldn’t have imagined it when we sang the song the year before on the funeral party, ‘We bring it back to Liverpool’ and it would work out.
“We got there so let’s try to get there again next season. We will not even think about stopping.”
Liverpool fell to their first pre-season defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, but the media remained level-headed over the result.
The Reds’ pre-season tour of the United States kicked off against a familiar foe in Dortmund at the Notre Dame Stadium, but it proved to be the first taste of defeat in pre-season so far—as it did last year.
Jurgen Klopp’s men had quickly found themselves behind on the scoreboard after Paco Alcacer netted from close range, before Harry Wilson scored his first of the summer to see the two sides head into the break on level terms.
Two goals in quick succession went the way of Dortmund as Liverpool’s sloppy defending was punished, ensuring Rhian Brewster’s penalty late in the piece was only a consolation.
Liverpool will quickly move on, however, as Klopp’s side will face off against Sevilla in Boston on Sunday.
Here’s how the media reacted to both the performance and the result following the first game on US soil.Journalists were on hand to praise a number of individual performances…
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his third successive start for the Reds this pre-season and is well and truly on the comeback trail after being named in just four matchday squads last season.
The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle thought the England international showed encouraging signs and displayed the qualities the Reds were lacking in 2018/19:
“That ability to break out of the engine room tussle and beyond the forwards is, if hyper-critical, the one aspect that was largely missing from Liverpool’s midfield last season.
“Not everything he tried here came off – his passing wasn’t quite on point at times – but there was sufficient encouragement against opposition a significant step above what had come before this summer.”
Similarly, writing for Liverpool.com, Kristian Walsh was impressed by the midfielder’s continued growth throughout pre-season thus far:
“Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the chief instigator. He is the perfect representation of what pre-season can be about; rusty in game one, growing in game two, and motoring away from quality opposition by game three.”
For ESPN’s Melissa Reddy, Oxlade-Chamberlain was the “standout” in South Bend after being the catalyst for a large part of Liverpool’s attacking impetus:
“[He] provided the sharpness and dynamism Jurgen Klopp will have been delighted to see.
“Was the standout star for the European champions at Notre Dame Stadium.”
“Had a dodgy start—his lapse led to a free run which resulted in Dortmund’s third-minute opener—but thereafter he was one of the finest on the park, reminding us all of his twin set of abilities.
“Dortmund were cut apart by his passing from deep on numerous occasions.”
“Wilson’s ability to influence games with goals and assists is certainly a valuable one, one which sets him apart from Liverpool’s other young wide prospect, Ryan Kent.”
“Liverpool may have conceded three goals but no blame could be attached to the Belgian. If anything, he was the reason they stayed in the game until the end.
“He is good enough to be the main man at many clubs across the continent. There is a reason why Klopp says Liverpool have ‘two number ones’.”The media were less than impressed with Liverpool’s ‘sloppy’ defending…
Despite it being only pre-season, it was a rare sight for the Reds to conceded three goals and Doyle felt Liverpool were often “their own worst enemy”:
“[Liverpool] were their own worst enemy at times, with some sloppy defending that started with the opening goal after only three minutes.”
King echoed those thoughts, but was quick to emphasise that the defensive line in action was not Klopp’s “first choice”:
“Liverpool’s defending was lackadaisical more often than Klopp would have wished to see.
“It was not, it must be stressed, his first choice back four.”
For Jones, he thought the play leading up to Dortmund’s goals will give Klopp plenty to think about:
“Reading too much into friendly matches is rarely advisable, of course, but Klopp will have been alarmed at the sloppiness which cost Liverpool all three of Dortmund’s goals.”
Meanwhile, for young left-back Yasser Larouci the game provided another opportunity to impress and while he did so the majority of the match, Doyle felt he let himself down in his final moments on the field:
“Yasser Larouci was within a minute of further bolstering his swiftly burgeoning reputation.
“[He lost] possession when attempting to dribble out of his area, a mistake which ultimately led to Dortmund’s decisive third goal.”
Matchett agreed to a certain extent, but felt it was another valuable learning curve for the Liverpool youngster:
“The converted winger has held up well with each challenge.
“There were a couple of instances where he was caught out, but this was more as a result of the Reds being high upfield and his ongoing status of learning the position, rather than Larouci being beaten one-on-one.”But journalists remained level-headed after the Reds’ first defeat in pre-season…
For Jones, the 90-minute affair in sweltering conditions will have offered plenty to ponder and praise for Klopp and his team:
“He will have seen the positives in some areas, the flaws in others.”
Likewise, King was of the view that the defeat will provide the opportunity to “address” a number of issues, while Brewster again proved to be a positive point after confidently scoring from the spot:
“Klopp saw issues that Liverpool will need to address to go alongside some moments – such as Rhian Brewster‘s fourth goal in three matches – to leave him positive.”
Matchett thought the result could prove to be a positive omen after a similar defeat last season which saw the Reds go on to win their sixth European Cup:
“This was to be the Reds’ first defeat of pre-season, but optimistic fans can take a positive omen: we lost 3-1 to Dortmund a year ago in the summer and still went on to win the Champions League.”
And for Walsh, pre-season is “where mistakes happen” and Liverpool will continue to find their stride in the remaining two friendlies across the Atlantic:
“This is pre-season, this is the part of the process where mistakes happen, where Liverpool can concede three in a 2-3 defeat.
“A first defeat of the summer at the hands of Dortmund, just like last year. Boston, and Fenway Park, should see the next step, and a little bit more of the Liverpool of last year.
“Familiarity does not breed contempt in these circumstances; it simply grows confidence.”
Rhian Brewster scored his fourth goal in 120 minutes of pre-season on Friday, but Liverpool suffered their first loss of the summer at the hands of Dortmund.
Pre-Season Friendly (3), Notre Dame Stadium
July 19, 2019
Alcacer 3′ (assist – Clyne)
Wilson 35′ (assist – Fabinho)
Delaney 53′ (assist – Hazard)
Bruun Larsen 58′ (assist – Wolf)
Brewster pen 75′ (assist – Woodburn)
The blistering heat in Indiana seemingly affected the Reds in the early minutes, as a sleeping Nathaniel Clyne allowed Dortmund into a dangerous position in the box and, with Joel Matip also slow, Paco Alcacer hammered home.
Liverpool looked to peg their opponents back immediately, and Matip sent a powerful header just wide of goal, before a lightning break from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw Ryan Kent denied by Marwin Hitz.
Oxlade-Chamberlain showed some bright touches and a nice burst of pace which suggests he has not lost it following his long injury layoff, but Dortmund remained in control up to the half-hour water break.
When they returned, the Reds pressed hard for a leveller, and it soon came after more great work from Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Fabinho eventually threading the ball through for Harry Wilson, via Kent’s dummy, with the Welshman slotting it past Hitz.
That saw the two sides into half-time at 1-1, after a strong save from Simon Mignolet to keep out Mario Gotze.
Dortmund made an array of changes at the break but Klopp opted to send out the same XI, as the senior players and youngsters who reported back for the first day of pre-season hit the next level of fitness.
Mignolet was drawn into another stretching save in the opening stages of the second half, but his goal was breached once again soon after as Thorgan Hazard’s cross evaded a sloppy Liverpool back line and Thomas Delaney tapped in at the far post.
Jacob Bruun Larsen made it 3-1 after some more lax defending from the Reds, before Klopp made 10 substitutions on the hour, with Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum all coming on.
A top-class cross from Adam Lewis caused havoc in the Dortmund box, and with Ben Woodburn brought down in the aftermath, Brewster stepped up to fire in a perfect penalty for his fourth goal of pre-season.
It wasn’t enough to inspire a comeback, and Mignolet kept himself in the shop window with another great stop to keep out Manuel Pherai, as Liverpool fell to a first loss of pre-season.
TIA Man of the Match: Rhian Brewster
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne (Alexander-Arnold 60′), Matip (Van Dijk 60′), Gomez (Lovren 60′), Larouci (Robertson 60′); Fabinho (Wijnaldum 60′), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Henderson 60′), Milner (Lewis 60′); Wilson (Jones 60′), Kent (Woodburn 60′), Origi (Brewster 60′)
Subs not used: Lonergan, Atherton, Phillips, Hoever
Next Match: Sevilla (N) – Pre-Season Friendly (4) – Sunday, July 21, 11pm (BST)
Liverpool kick off their pre-season tour of the United States in a meeting with Borussia Dortmund in South Bend, Indiana. We’re live to bring you the latest.
Kickoff at the Notre Dame Stadium is at 1.05am (BST).
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Gomez, Larouci, Fabinho, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilson, Origi, Kent
Substitutes: Atherton, Lonergan, Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Lovren, Henderson, Brewster, Robertson, Lewis, Phillips, Jones, Hoever, Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold.
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The Reds arrived in America earlier this week, and have been training in Indiana in preparation for a three-game jaunt that begins against Klopp’s old club.
Dortmund provide a significant step up in competition after Liverpool’s victories over Tranmere and Bradford, and will serve as a closer comparison to the sides on the fixture list in the Premier League.
Nevertheless, injuries and absences ensure Klopp has maintained a youthful edge to his squad in the States, which is reflected on the teamsheet.
Simon Mignolet keeps his place between the sticks, with youngster Dan Atherton and veteran Andy Lonergan among the subs.
Klopp is then set to rotate his XI again at the break, with the likes of Rhian Brewster among the subs.
Not in the squad are Adam Lallana and Bobby Duncan, with the duo suffering knocks in training. Lallana is said to have a dead leg, while Duncan has a minor foot injury.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Gomez, Larouci, Fabinho, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilson, Origi, Kent
Substitutes: Atherton, Lonergan, Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Lovren, Henderson, Brewster, Robertson, Lewis, Phillips, Jones, Hoever, Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold.
The Reds have relied on a host of young players so far this summer, and a lack of ‘fear’ has seen them thrive in the senior setup.
In the absence of a plethora of senior players, Jurgen Klopp has turned to the club’s youth early in pre-season and they have taken the opportunity to impress.
It is in attack, however, where there lies a greater level of reliance on Liverpool’s young brigade this summer as the prolific attacking trio of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are yet to return to the club due to international commitments.
Rhian Brewster has wasted little time in showing he can make an impact at senior level having scored three goals in his first two games, while Harry Wilson continues to his stake a claim for a more prominent role moving forward.
The current situation in pre-season could prove to be a pressurised situation for the duo, and the remaining Liverpool youngsters, and subsequently hinder their performances.
That has not been the case, however, and speaking to the club’s website, Wilson, 22, feels the impressive nature of their performances come down to youthful exuberance and a lack of ‘fear’:
“When you’re young, you kind of have this ‘no fear’ feeling – you want to go out there, you want to impress the manager and the senior pros that you’re training with and ultimately get better.
“When you’re at a young age, nothing fazes you and you just try to do as well as you can.
“They all look like they’re enjoying it, they’re all showcasing their talents. They’re all doing really well. The senior lads are really good as well, they make you feel a part of the group.
“I remember a few years ago when it was my first trip, they were brilliant with me. They’re the same with the young lads now, so the group is really tight.”
In Liverpool’s two pre-season games to date, against Tranmere and Bradford, Wilson has shared the forward line with Brewster.
But the two are on different sides of the same coin in terms of their future at Anfield as Brewster is being touted as a regular member of the matchday squad, whereas Wilson has been continually linked with another loan move.
And after receiving ample praise from Klopp this summer as he seeks to introduce the 19-year-old into the first team this season, Brewster continues to show he does not lack confidence as he spoke of his eagerness to repay the managers faith:
“He has said it quite a few times now and I just want to repay his faith in me.
“It is alright him saying it but it is for me to go out there and do it. I’m looking forward to doing that.
“Of course it’s sad that Daniel [Sturridge] has gone but it’s a gap for me and hopefully I can fill his big boots. He’s not a bad player! Hopefully, I can push on this season.
“I got two goals against Tranmere and a goal against Bradford but coming to the US we’ve got Dortmund, Sevilla and Sporting.
“It’s going to be a tough task but it will be good to get more minutes in this heat. Hopefully, I can get a few more goals and push on.”
Liverpool’s limited attacking ranks across the Atlantic means Divock Origi is the only senior option in the forward line, ensuring there will be adequate time for each youngster to shape their trajectory for the rest of the season.
With fixtures against Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Sporting CP scheduled over the next six days in the US, both Brewster and Wilson will again feature alongside fellow youngsters Ryan Kent and Bobby Duncan.
Liverpool FC Women opened their US tour proceedings with a 2-2 draw against Cleveland Ambassadors, where a number of players were handed their debut.
It has been an eventful week for Vicky Jepson’s side after the team joined the men’s squad on the pre-season tour of the United States, as they took part in a number of community activities and played their first fixture.
The Reds met Cleveland Ambassadors at Notre Dame University on Thursday and, after a delay to kick-off due to storms and heavy rain, Liverpool twice came from behind to secure a 2-2 draw.
It took just six minutes for Cleveland to take the lead, but Liverpool’s fighting spirit was on show immediately as they levelled the scores merely four minutes later after Ashley Hodson drilled the ball home.
Jepson’s side went close to taking the lead on a number of occasions throughout the first half and despite ‘keeper Anke Preuss making some valuable saves she was unable to stop Cleveland from notching their second moments before the half-time break.
Both sides were provided with a plethora of chances to impact the scoreboard in the second term, but it was the prolific Courtney Sweetman-Kirk whose headed finish in the 83rd minute ensured the game finished on level terms.
It was no surprise to see Sweetman-Kirk on the scoresheet as she picked up from where she left off last season having netted 12 goals in all competitions to lead the Reds’ goalscoring charts.
Notably, the game also saw Jepson hand debuts to each of the club’s new signings in Becky Jane, Melissa Lawley and Jade Bailey – all of whom impressed.
The result ensures an unbeaten start to pre-season for Liverpool FC Women, and while Jepson, speaking to the club’s website, was pleased with her team’s first outing, there are still improvements to be had:
“This was a fantastic opportunity for us to expose the girls to where they need to be physically. This is only week two of our pre-season and Cleveland Ambassadors are in the peak of their pre-season, and you could tell the difference physically.
“We struggled today on the transition and at the end you could see a lot of the players were really fatigued.
“I thought we had some really exciting passing patterns at times in the final third, we created lots of opportunities and although we didn’t score as many goals as I would have liked to have seen.
“I think it’s a really good start to our pre-season and there’s no better place to be than the USA to start it.”
The presence of Liverpool FC Women in America signals an important shift in the club’s mentality towards the women’s game, under what is being considered the ‘two teams but one club’ ethos.
In the aftermath of the Women’s World Cup it is important to continue building interest and showing the path for future generations to follow.
Jepson’s side will continue to build towards their Women’s Super League opener against Reading when they face off against New York Athletic at Boston University in their last game on US soil.