Liverpool have enjoyed a number of positive results so far in pre-season, seeing off the likes of Crystal Palace and Leicester City, and they followed it up with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin in Germany on Saturday.
A lot of excitement came from the line-up, with Philippe Coutinho given the captaincy as Sadio Mane and Emre Can returned to action. It was Dominic Solanke though, who opened the scoring for the Reds with a looping header from an Adam Lallana cross.
Georgino Wijnaldum added a second before half-time, his first in Liverpool colours away from Anfield. With a powerful finish from the edge of the box, he pounced on a loose ball after Mane’s run dragged the Hertha defence all over the place.
Mane’s replacement in the second half was summer signing Mohamed Salah, who got on the scoresheet himself courtesy of a wonderful assist from captain Coutinho.
In a promising display from Jurgen Klopp’s side, they will now face Bayern Munich and Napoli or Atletico Madrid in the Audi Cup in midweek, before playing Athletic Bilbao in their final pre-season challenge next weekend.
Here’s what The Boot Room learnt from the game…
Philippe Coutinho is the immense quality that Liverpool need
Much has been made of Coutinho’s future in the past few days, but what was clear from his display on Saturday was that Liverpool can’t afford to lose him. Coutinho was given the captain’s armband for the first time and in the first half he single handedly ran rings around the opposition with his skills, twists and turns wearing the defence out.
His most important contribution of that match was a sensational ball lofted over the Hertha Berlin defence and straight into the path of Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian calmly chipped the onrushing goalkeeper but it was a wonderful assist from the Brazilian playmaker and another sign of an instant connection between the attacking duo.
Sadio Mane and Emre Can are back
The last two players to join Liverpool’s pre-season training with Mane returning from a knee injury whilst Can had an extended break after the Confederations Cup, and they both impressed. Mane looked energetic and dangerous throughout, closing down and pressing high up the pitch and pouncing on every opportunity. There were signs of rust, firing over from 12 yards out, but after three months out that is to be expected.
Can’s display was possibly even more impressive. Despite only having re-joined training this week, his fitness levels impressed as at one point in the first half he went on a 60 yard run, shrugging off challenges from his German opposition. Lasting just under an hour, it was an impressive performance form the midfielder.
Dominic Solanke can compete with the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi
With just one centre forward role available in Jurgen Klopp’s current set up, there is plenty of competition between Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings. The performance of youngster Dominic Solanke in Germany only went to prove that there is another candidate to apply pressure to first choice Roberto Firmino.
The highlight of his display was a powerful header after a superb Adam Lallana cross which gave the Reds the lead early on in the first half. Solanke’s movement, pace and strength caused problems throughout and his clinical finishing when given the opportunity will also have helped his case.