Liverpool left late, but Jurgen Klopp’s men took their first pre-season win after a final gasping own goal delivered a win over German club Mainz in Austria.
Klopp named two completely different lineups for the two halves against his former side, with Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Ibrahima Konate the main men in the first half of eleven, while Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones headlined in the less experienced team after the break.
Despite the star names of Liverpool’s first half, the first 45 minutes ended goalless with very few notable chances.
Liverpool recorded their first pre-season win as a late own goal earned a win over Mainz
Jurgen Klopp named two different starting XIs but struggled in the Friday evening sun in Austria
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Liverpool first half (4-3-3): Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Konate, Tsimikas; Elliott, Milner, Keita; Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane
Liverpool second half (4-3-3): Adrian; N Williams, Phillips, Koumieto, Beck; Clarkson, Gordon, Morton; Minamino, Origi, Jones
The second half was even flatter as the Liverpool backup initially failed to impress, but a cross from young Reds left-back Owen Beck forced an own goal from Mainz defender Luca Killian with five minutes to go.
In the first half, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ignored the best free chance of the first half when he forced Mainz goalkeeper Robin Zentner to make a good save after some good work by Naby Keita.
On the other hand, Mainz also created little, but Caoimhin Kelleher and Adrian were much busier than the pair of goalkeepers of opposing opponents Zentner and Dahmen.
Despite winning their first game 90 minutes after the summer break, Liverpool boss Klopp began to worry as there was a clear lack of opportunities created against the German side.
As pre-season heats up for the Merseysiders ahead of the new Premier League season, Sports post looks at FIVE things we learned from Liverpool’s friendly against Mainz on Friday night…
MISSED FIRMINO’S LINK-UP GAME IF ATTACKING STARS DON’T SHINE
Rest is expected in the pre-season, especially in the final third, but the fact that Liverpool failed to create in the first half with Salah and Mane on the pitch may be a minor concern for Klopp in this campaign for the title. season.
Against Mainz, the two high-profile forwards started up front alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was seen again in a ‘false nine’ role after impressing in the 30-minute friendly against Stuttgart.
Mohamed Salah started the match in Austria but was barely involved in his cameo in the first half
Oxlade-Chamberlain was rather anonymous in that opening period, but a more worrying sight was the inability of Liverpool’s first half for three to combine together in the Austrian friendly.
The final pass was missing in the first 45 minutes of the Reds’ best chances, either due to a brilliant impression in midfield or picking up scraps left by the Mainz defence.
It’s still early in pre-season and more games to come, but Brazilian Roberto Firmino looks set to be a miss as the Reds wait for him to return from his extended break after the Copa America.
Sadio Mane teamed up with Salah up front and was a little brighter but Liverpool created little
Two-thirds of Firmino’s Premier League goals last season came in the first half of games, suggesting the 29-year-old is very important to Liverpool’s way of starting their games.
Klopp’s men need to show more in front of goal this season or risk a return from the misery they faced last winter, especially in home games.
KEITA LOOKS IN THE MOOD
Liverpool’s brighter spark in the first half was midfielder Naby Keita, who showed plenty of trickery and flair from midfield three.
All the good work from the Reds in the first half of the game from the Malian midfielder, who took on challenges before pushing the ball well to the front three to create chances.
Keita did just that to clear Oxlade-Chamberlain with the best chance of the first half, but Liverpool’s ‘false nine’ could only force Robin Zentner into a good save after opening his body.
Naby Keita was smart for the first half for Liverpool and was at the center of good play
Other than that, the 26-year-old used his feet well and showed a few moments of cheating, suggesting he may be in the mood for the current season after the summer break.
Twelve months ago, Keita did enough in preparation to convince Klopp to start the Malian in his midfield for the first few Premier League games of last season, but coronavirus and leg injuries quickly stopped that momentum.
Should he continue to produce appearances like Friday night, it will be difficult for the German manager to leave him on the bench at the start of this season.
The Malian (right) showed quick feet to drag defenders out and create space for attackers
ORIGI’S AGGRESSION SHOWS HE CAN HAVE AN ANFIELD ROLE
There was plenty to be happy about with the Liverpool team in the second half. Kaide Gordon looked sharp on the ball in another first team outing, while Billy Koumieto looked solid from the back as Mainz created counterattack opportunities.
But Divock Origi was the brightest player in the ‘back-up eleven’, with his pressing highs on the pitch one of the most impressive parts of his Friday night game.
Substitute Divock Origi in the second half was aggressive after the break and put Mainz under good pressure
The Belgian attacker was impressive in winning the ball in the first third of Mainz, with one of those moments of defensive aggression leading to Gordon’s attack in the second half almost making its way inside the nearest post.
Origi was limited to just nine Premier League appearances last season, of which only two were starts.
But his pressure, along with his flexibility to perform on the left and through the middle, shows that he can still play a role at Anfield this season.
MILNER AN OPTION FOR KNOPP IN QUARTERBACK ROL
Klopp would have enjoyed the first-half performance from veteran midfielder James Milner, who appeared on the defensive base of midfield three on Friday night.
That ‘quarterback’ role will likely be contested by Fabinho and Jordan Henderson when the Premier League season gets underway, but Milner used his maturity to good effect, leaving Klopp with an alternative option for the season ahead.
Milner set the pace for the Reds with deep and often incisive passes to get the ball to the front three. Defensively, the 35-year-old has the tactical awareness to cover Trent Alexander-Arnold’s space should he get way too high up the field. A vital block in the first half from inside the penalty area denied Mainz an opener from the counterattack.
James Milner was used as a ‘quarterback’ defensive midfielder and performed well
A dilemma for Klopp at the start of the season concerns whether or not to risk Henderson and Fabinho, who are coming back late from the preseason after their international performances at this summer’s Euro 2020 and Copa America competitions.
Milner in that role as a defensive midfielder may not be an option against top-class opposition, but the veteran could qualify for the first two league games against Norwich and Burnley in August.
TSIMIKAS FIGHTS IN RARE CHANCE TO SHINE
Kostas Tsimikas will need an epic season to take over Andy Robertson in the Liverpool left-back hierarchy, but a poor showing on Friday night has damaged his chances of getting more first-team minutes this season.
The 25-year-old played just six minutes of Premier League football last season and while that’s partly due to Robertson being fit and available for every game in Liverpool, there’s a feeling that Tsimikas’ career at Reds isn’t over yet. the ground has come.
Kostas Tsimikas (right) was often caught on the counterattack and struggled in the first 45
Against Mainz, in his first real start of the season, Tsimikas gave too much time and space to opposition player Daniel Brosinski to hurt Liverpool’s rear.
The 33-year-old Mainz veteran managed to bypass the Greek several times and passed behind the Liverpool defence. Only restorative challenges from Ibrahima Konate and Milner managed to save the skin of a nervous Tsimikas.
Klopp’s backline is already high anyway, so getting caught isn’t Tsimikas’ worst crime in the world, but better competition in competitive games would have punished Liverpool more severely on that right.
With Robertson back in Liverpool’s training camp and the first team needing minutes before the new season, Tsimikas’ chances of impressing Klopp on the pitch may be exhausted again.