Yesterday Liverpool took Barcelona on at Wembley stadium and thrashed the Spanish champions 4-0. Here are 5 things to take from the clash.
Pre-game hype was dominated by Luis Suarez and Javier Mascherano and what would happen on their Liverpool reunions. While none of the Liverpool players were ever going to do the former-Reds any favours on the pitch, the ovation that Suarez was given when he left the pitch was rapturous.
While I was trying to find a stream for the game that wasn’t entirely buggy my nerves were shot, especially given that it was a pre-season friendly. However, looking back it seems as though I wasn’t nearly as full of faith where Jürgen Klopp is concerned as I should be by this point.
At half-time I thought to myself that there was no replicating the gegenpressing mania that was on show for the first 45 minutes. Then the second half began. Jordan Henderson doubled the lead before Divock Origi raced through on goal and scored. But what does the hugely impressive performance tell us a week ahead of Liverpool’s first game of the 2016/17 season?
Klopp has got his tactics across – well, almost
The main reason for Barcelona’s dismantlement at Wembley was the way the Liverpool front three came out and lead the high pressing from the very top of the pitch.
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Considering Barcelona are famed for their combination of possession and pressing it was ironic that Liverpool pressed the Catalan giants into submission. Origi’s goal was a perfect example of how counter-pressing and then quick incisive passing can split even the best teams in two.
As was to be expected, the central midfield was exposed by Barcelona’s quick passing and incisive movement but for the most part it seems as though Klopp’s players have been paying attention in training. What was very impressive was the wide player’s willingness to drop in and get behind the ball when out of position. This will be important against Arsenal who enjoy the lion’s share of possession usually.
Sadio Mané is top notch
Liverpool came bursting out of the blocks lead by the mercurial Sadio Mané. His pace stretched Barcelona’s defence to the point that there was a 15 metre gap between each defender on more than occasion. By not allowing a team to play as a compact unit it means that you have the initiative over your opponents and this was the case for Liverpool’s opener.
Mané broke the deadlock with a well finished goal after Lallana slipped the Senegal international in behind the Barca defenders. It was the former-Southampton man’s first goal of pre-season and very much deserved. Each appearance from Mané has been filled with positive movement and a desire to impress.
This desire is a pre-requisite for a player in Klopp’s side. It could be said that Mané is everything Raheem Sterling isn’t. Humble and prepared to graft for the team’s benefit.
Liverpool don’t need to rely on Sturridge for goals
If the end of last season is any indication of what is to come this term then it is improbable that Klopp will be relying on a single player for goals but rather on the collective to chip in. 4 different players registered 10+ goals last season for Liverpool which demonstrates how Liverpool are a side who share the goals around rather than rely on a sole figure to rake in the goals.
This is especially crucial due to the current lack of a consistently fit and top-quality striker in the ranks on Merseyside. The very fact that Daniel Sturridge was omitted from the squad to face Barcelona highlights the fact that the former Manchester City and Chelsea forward cannot be relied on to appear regularly.
Marko Grujic can become a brilliant midfielder under Klopp
Liverpool’s new singing grabbed his third goal of pre-season with a superb looping header into the Barcelona net. His goal came in the 93rd minute and capped off a genuinely superb pre-season performance by the Reds.
When Liverpool signed Grujic many were sceptical of the impact that the Serb would have due to him basically being unknown but after several weeks of pre-season it’s likely that many people will be upset if he doesn’t partner Emre Can in midfield.
Such is the state of Liverpool fans.
Has Adam Lallana staked a claim for contention in midfield?
With Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mané signing in this window it seemed as though Adam Lallana’s place at Anfield was in danger.
However, as Barcelona’s players will certainly testify to Lallana is a classy player. The way the Englishman started the move for Mané’s goal is a testament to how he has completely and utterly taken to Klopp’s playing style. When he stole the ball from Cámara and moved it on quickly the pressure was on Barcelona. Lallana’s willingness to run up the pitch and get in the box lead to him getting the ball back which he gave to Mané who made no mistake.
Klopp will surely have taken notice of Lallana’s impressive display and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the silky midfielder in the starting lineup come next week Sunday.