Liverpool welcomed German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund to Anfield this afternoon for their last pre-season game of 2014. After a summer of busy transfer activity from Brendan Rodgers, it was the last test of the side before the Barclays Premiership gauntlet is thrown down next weekend and a chance to see some of the clubs new players in the famous red jersey..
The Liverpool Boss fielded a strong team for their illustrious visitors which included the first Anfield starts for newcomers Dejan Lovren, Emre Can, and surprisingly, young Atlético Madrid loanee Javier Manquillo at right back with Glen Johnson shifted to the left flank. Jürgen Klopp’s lineup included one of their new signings, the Columbian Andre Ramos and former Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Noticeable absentees for Dortmund were Marco Reus and World Cup winning centre back Mats Hummels. Underlining the history between the two sides, the visiting support, joined in with You’ll Never Walk Alone, to bring a nice touch and an air of solidarity to encapsulate the friendly occasion. Respect.
The hosts started brightly with their now customary high tempo, pressing game clearly evident. The full backs Johnson and Manquillo pushing up to support the central midfield duo of Jordan Henderson and the impressive Can. The wet Anfield turf nicely assisted Liverpool’s slick passing and movement. Early chances fell to Sterling and Henderson with a low shot and chip respectively. The home side’s intent was clear. The visitors struggled to contain the home side with Steven Gerrard marshalling expertly in front of the two centre backs and the industry of Can and Henderson evident. A breakthrough looked inevitable and it duly arrived after nine minutes.
An inch-perfect first-time through ball from Philippe Coutinho wrong-footing a crowded midfield into the path of Daniel Sturridge. The forward controlling the ball before calmly slotting home across goal with the outside of his lethal left foot, 1-0. The Studge followed. Fingers raised to the skies above in acknowledgement. Business as usual. Rodger’s men continued to press and harry their visitors with Henderson, Can, Coutinho and Raheem Sterling particularly impressive early on. In fact, the whole team looked safe, assured, and threatening going forward and at the back. Less than five minutes later, Liverpool extended their lead, with debutant Lovren contributing at the other end.
Gerrard’s centred corner from the Liverpool left was met in text-book fashion by Lovren who steered his effort into the Dortmund net. The visiting defence, it has to be said were more than guilty in conceding their second of the afternoon with some shambolic defending from the set piece. The home side were now two goals to the good and looking excellent value. A 20 minute spell of Dortmund pressure followed but their forays failed to bring any significant threat to Simon Mignolet’s goal. The Reds’ high tempo game the perfect foil for anything the men from Nordrhein-Wesphalen could muster. Lovren remained as tough and clinical in front of his own goal as he was in taking his goal.
On 47 minutes, Rodgers’ men put the game beyond doubt. A poor cross-field pass from the visiting centre-back was picked up by the busy Sterling on the Liverpool left. His burst of speed took him past his marker and his low centre was neatly collected by Coutinho who jinked past two challenges to despatch his left foot shot past the despairing Mitchell Langerak. 3-0 with half time beckoning and the hosts in total control.
The second half saw the introduction for Martin Kelly at right back, Jose Enrique on the opposite side and Lucas Leiva into the midfield alongside Jordan Henderson. Numerous substitutions were made by Klopp also but in fairness to him, the game as a competition, was over. This was reflected in the game as Liverpool’s first half fizz subsided somewhat. The side still maintained a good level of concentration however, and it was good game management from the Reds. Noticeable though, was Lucas’ clumsiness in the challenge which only gives weight to the Manager’s decision to seek alternatives for him. Enrique on the other hand looked reasonably comfortable for a player that hasn’t played in anger for almost a year.
On 60 minutes, the home side put the game well and truly beyond their visitors and underlined the gulf in class on the day. Some superb pass-and-move interplay on the Liverpool left between Sterling, Coutinho, Sturridge and Henderson led to the fourth from Henderson. Much to Langerak’s fury with a (justified) suspicion of offside earlier in the move. That said, a thoroughly deserved reward for Henderson and his afternoon’s efforts. The game was played out to the usual mass of substitutions. Klopp mainly and rightly so, with an eye on his sides German Super Cup Final with Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Liverpool ran out comfortable winners today and the level of intensity and understanding in the team was a massive bonus for the fans. On this showing, it’s clear the side are ready for the new season and one has to be optimistic. Dortmund were by no means at their best, but they remain a quality scalp nonetheless. Rodgers does still need a striker to partner Sturridge. I wouldn’t say it’s a vital as everybody thought in the wake of Luis Suarez’s departure. Luis who…? You may well ask.
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