Dortmund, Sevilla & Sporting CP – The lowdown on Liverpool’s US tour opponents

Liverpool continue their pre-season preparations with three games on US soil, here’s all you need to know about the Reds’ opponents in America.


After two domestic friendly victories against Tranmere and Bradford kickstarted the summer, Jurgen Klopp’s squad have arrived for a three-stop tour of the United States.

Klopp has had to call upon a host of youngsters thus far as Liverpool’s senior internationals had a delayed return to training.

And while they will continue to be handed a chance to impress, the likes of Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Gini Wijnaldum and Trent Alexander-Arnold will now return to the fold.

Here we give you the lowdown on Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Sporting CP ahead of Liverpool’s meeting with the trio over the course of the tour.

 

Borussia Dortmund, July 19

CHARLOTTE, USA - Sunday, July 22, 2018: Liverpool's Divock Origi during a preseason International Champions Cup match between Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool FC at the Bank of America Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Manager: Lucien Favre
2018/19 Bundesliga finish: 2nd
When and where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend – 8pm EDT, 1am (July 20) BST


Liverpool and Dortmund are no strangers having crossed paths in more ways than one over the last few years; from Klopp, who spent seven years with the German side, to the famous Anfield night in the Europa League in 2016, to as recent as last pre-season.

The Reds ultimately fell short in 2018, succumbing to a 3-1 defeat in North Carolina, but it was a pre-season campaign which laid the foundations to take each side to the cusp of a league title.

Lucien Favre, in his first full season as Dortmund manager having replaced Peter Stoger, started off his reign in scintillating fashion as his side were unbeaten in their first 15 league games.

Dortmund were top at Christmas, for the first time since 2010/11, and looked to be on course to end Bayern Munich’s six-year stranglehold on the Bundesliga title.

Germany's Julian Brandt March 2017 (Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport)

But for all their dominance and exceptional form in the early parts of the 2018/19 campaign, it was ultimately a trophy-less season as their inexperience caused them to narrowly miss out on the title by two points.

They also exited both the Champions League and DFB-Pokal at the round of 16.

Favre primarily used a 4-2-3-1 formation with devastating effect having utilised the strengths of several key players.

This came with the defensive prowess of Manuel Akanji, the midfield dominance of Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney, the attacking flair of Jadon Sancho and the natural goalscoring instincts of Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer.

Notably, the latter two combined for 45 percent of Dortmund’s goals in 2018/19 having notched 40 goals and 15 assists between them.

Dortmund possess an exciting squad which is littered with young talent, and while Christian Pulisic moved on to Chelsea, the German side wasted no time in adding to their ranks to ensure another tilt at the title and a successful Champions League run awaits next season.

Thorgan Hazard of Belgium during the International friendly match between Belgium and The Netherlands at the King Baudouin Stadium on October 16, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium

Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard, both previously linked with moves to Liverpool, signed on the dotted line this summer, while former skipper Mats Hummels made his return alongside Nico Schulz—who can be deployed anywhere on the left flank.

The new signings, who will all be present in America, ensure Favre will have a welcome selection headache on his hands next season.

The German outfit have played just one pre-season fixture thus far and won in a convincing manner having put 10 unanswered goals past FC Schweinberg.

A meeting with Seattle Sounders (July 17) is next on the agenda before the clash with the Reds.

 

Sevilla, July 21

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 13, 2018: Sevilla's Wissam Ben Yedder celebrates scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd leg match between Manchester United FC and Sevilla FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Manager: Julen Lopetegui
2018/19 La Liga position: 6th
When and where: Fenway Park, Boston – 6pm EDT, 11pm BST


Another familiar foe from the 2016 Europa League run awaits this summer, only this time Liverpool were on the wrong side of the result having relinquished a first-half lead to lose 3-1 and hand the Spanish side their third successive title.

The pair went on to meet in the 2017/18 Champions League group stages, but their paths are unlikely to cross again in the coming season after Sevilla only managed to qualify for the Europa League following a poor campaign.

Two managers were both drafted in, with Pablo Machin shown the exit a day after their Europa League elimination in the last 16, before Joaquin Caparros was appointed as caretaker manager.

Machin had only been in charge for 10 months, but after his side dramatically fell from second in the table to sixth after struggling to find any level of consistency—which led to three draws at six defeats at the turn of the year—his time was up.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 13, 2017: Liverpool's goalkeeper Loris Karius looks dejected as Sevilla score the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool and Sevilla at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The decline ultimately cost Sevilla a Champions League spot, and their most notable accomplishment came when they finished as runners-up in the Supercopa de Espana, losing 2-1 to Barcelona.

While the season was one of ups and downs, both Wissam Ben Yedder and Tomas Vaclik impressed leading the line and in goal respectively.

Ben Yedder notched 30 goals and 11 assists in 54 games to earn himself interest from a number of Europe’s elite, while Vaclik rose from obscurity following his move from Basel last summer to become one of La Liga’s best performing ‘keepers.

Former Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui was then appointed as the club’s new manager in June as Sevilla look to move back up the league table next season.

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2018: Representatives from Spain, including head coach Julen Lopetegui (C), during the draw for the new UEFA Nations League tournament at the SwissTech Convention Centre. (Pic by Pool/UEFA/Propaganda)

And the Spaniard has already been backed heavily in the transfer window having signed nine new players, which includes Bordeaux’s Jules Kounde, Munas Dabbur from Red Bull Salzburg, Marseille’s Lucas Ocampos and Luke de Jong from PSV Eindhoven.

Porto’s Oliver Torres is the club’s most recent arrival as Lopetegui continues to realise his vision for his squad along with sporting director Monchi.

On the outgoing front Sevilla have parted ways with attacking midfielder Pablo Sarabia who joined Paris Saint-Germain, while Quincy Promes and Luis Muriel have also departed to Ajax and Atalanta respectively.

Akin to Dortmund, Sevilla have played just one pre-season friendly this summer and emerged as 2-1 victors over Reading, with Lopetegui blooding four of his new players and started putting his tactical approach in place.

 

Sporting CP, July 24

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 15, 2012: Sporting Clube de Portugal fans celebrate their side's victory over Manchester City during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match at City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Manager: Marcel Keizer
2018/19 Primeira Liga position: 3rd
When and where: Yankee Stadium, New York – 8pm EDT, 1am (July 25) BST


Sporting and Liverpool have yet to play an official game against one another and while their history on the field is limited, the two clubs have met in the transfer window.

The Reds acquired the services of Joao Carlos Teixeira and Tiago Ilori from Sporting in 2012 and 2013 respectively, both having now moved on, but the most recent of interactions came when Rafa Camacho sealed a £7 million move to Portugal.

He joins Ilori back in Lisbon, with the centre-back swapping Reading for Sporting in January.

Sporting’s 2018/19 campaign started off the back of a tumultuous off-season which saw a group of fans attack their own players after the club failed to qualify for the Champions League.

That, coupled with unrest with the club’s president led to several players rescinding their contracts and ensured it was a busy summer of incomings and outgoings.

This high turnover was matched by the rotation of the person in the manager’s seat as four men have occupied the position from June 2018 to present day.

Marcel Keizer is currently in the dugout after replacing Tiago Fernandes, who held the job for all of 10 days, and the former Ajax manager already has silverware to his name in Portugal.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 15, 2012: Sporting Clube de Portugal supporters celebrate their side's 3-2 defeat to Manchester City, meaning that they are through to the next round, after the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match at City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

For all of the unrest, Sporting’s season was anything but a disaster as they secured both the Taca de Liga and the Taca de Portugal having overcome Porto in both finals.

Bruno Fernandes was the star of show for much of the 2018/19 season, scoring 32 and providing 18 assists in 53 games—earning him reported interest from the likes of Liverpool, Man United and Tottenham.

And his team-mate Bas Dost was also highly influential having notched 23 goals and two assists in 35 appearances, meaning the pair had a direct hand in 77 percent of the team’s total output.

The future of the former is unknown, but Keizer has already added a few new faces as Valentin Rosier from Dijon, Luciano Vietto from Atletico Madrid and Luis Neto are among those to arrive this summer.

Sporting are known to be a physical and aerially dominant side who are not opposed to absorbing pressure and then breaking on the counter, presenting the Reds with an early test for the challenges that await in the Premier League.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Liverpool's Rafael Camacho before the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Portuguese outfit have played two pre-season fixtures to date without notching a win having fallen to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Swiss side Rapperswil-Jona, before drawing 2-2 with St. Gallen.

A meeting with Club Brugge later in the week precedes their clash with Liverpool in New York.

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