Liverpool return to pre-season action as they open their International Champions Cup campaign in Los Angeles against Premier League rivals, Chelsea.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Thursday 28th July, 4.35am (BST)
Rose Bowl, Pasadena
International Champions Cup
Live on LFCTV
After what feels an eternity with no game played for a week, Klopp’s side kick off another busy run of action against the Blues in their first ICC fixture.
The meeting with the domestic rivals—which owners FSG will be present for—will be the first of three games Liverpool play in the competition, with AC Milan and Barcelona—either side of a meeting with AS Roma—to follow.
The Reds finished runners-up in their maiden ICC outing two years ago, and Klopp’s side will be looking to go one better this time around in a 10-team group, starting with a positive display against the Londoners.
ICC History & The Rose Bowl
The opening clash arguably couldn’t come at a more spectacular venue than the historic multi-purpose arena in Pasadena.
Playing at the huge 95,500-capacity ground will be a first for the Reds, and the arena will provide a stunning spectacle for the all-Premier League tie.
The game will mark Liverpool’s second ICC campaign, two years after their first under Brendan Rodgers, while it will be Chelsea’s third competition appearance having featured in 2013 and 2015.
Liverpool came close to glory in 2014, denied the trophy by a 3-1 final loss Manchester United, while Chelsea also posted a runner-up finish a year earlier, losing to Real Madrid by the same scoreline.
Though consistent rivals on the domestic stage, friendlies between the clubs are a real rarity with this to be just the second post-war non-competitive clash between the sides.
The last friendly came in 1973, when the Reds faced Chelsea for club legend Ian St. John’s testimonial at Anfield, where the occasion was marked with a 4-2 win for Bill Shankly’s side.
Liverpool arrive for the tournament in strong form following four straight wins and clean sheets, and Klopp will be looking for his side to continue that run against a step up in quality.
For the first game this pre-season, Klopp has a full squad at his disposal for the ICC opener.
The Liverpool boss has nearly all internationals back to feature—including Sheyi Ojo and Emre Can who have recently joined the squad.
With those players needing minutes as the season draws closer, England quintet Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge are all likely to feature for the first time this pre-season.
Belgium internationals Simon Mignolet, Divock Origi and Christian Benteke could also take part.
Klopp is also likely to hand debuts to Ragnar Klavan and Georginio Wijnaldum, while new backup goalkeeper Alex Manninger may also be handed a taste of action as the trio settle into life as Liverpool players.
They could feature alongside three of Liverpool’s four other new arrivals, with Loris Karius, Marko Grujic and Sadio Mane all in line to play.
However, Klopp is facing something of a defensive crisis, missing five centre-back options with Klavan, Dejan Lovren and Andre Wisdom the only fit options currently.
Joel Matip is set to miss out with a recurring ankle issue while Lucas Leiva has a hamstring injury that will keep him out for the start of the season.
Tiago Ilori is with the Portugal U23s and Joe Gomez remains sidelined with an Achilles problem, while the injured Mamadou Sakho has worryingly been sent home from the tour.
Those who have featured heavily in pre-season like Alberto Moreno, Lazar Markovic, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings are set to be handed further minutes—but Brad Smith won’t play having travelled back to the UK to finalise a £6 million move to Bournemouth.
Game time for youngsters looks less forthcoming with the squad returning to full strength, but Ojo, Cameron Brannagan, Ovie Ejaria and Trent Alexander-Arnold will hope for run-outs after their inclusion in Klopp’s squad.
After a summer of change, it’s been a quieter pre-season for Chelsea so far as they begin a new era under Antonio Conte.
The Blues have played two friendlies in comparison to Liverpool’s four, enduring mixed results with a 2-0 defeat to Rapid Vienna followed by a 3-0 success over Austrian side Wolfsberger AC.
Despite their indifferent start to pre-season, a big campaign is expected from the Blues who, like Liverpool, are looking for a strong domestic season without European football.
The game will also be the first of three ICC games for Chelsea, with the other two against Real Madrid and AC Milan.
Conte will use the tournament to translate methods to his new squad, which has been added to since his arrival with the signings of Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante for £32 million and Marseille’s Michy Batshuayi for £33 million.
Conte now has the full squad at his disposal, with international players having returned, and the Italian has taken a 30-man squad across the pond.
That doesn’t include Kante, who has yet to join up with his new teammates or John Obi Mikel, who is preparing for the Olympic Games with Nigeria.
Batshuayi is available, however while Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard are line for their first pre-season action following after returning from holiday.
Conte has enjoyed the luxury of a strong squad to work with from almost his first day in charge and the likes of John Terry, Cesc Fabregas, Willian and Diego Costa are all likely to play again.
Youngsters Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Nathan Baxter, Ola Aina, Matt Miazga and Michael Hector have been included in the squad and will all be hopeful of impressing.
Liverpool vs. Chelsea will be shown live on LFCTV, and as ever, This is Anfield will provide coverage of the clash, with kickoff at the Rose Bowl set for 4:35am (BST).