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False 9 Fabio & lessons to learn – 5 talking points from Liverpool 0-3 Strasbourg

Liverpool fell to a disappointing defeat in this season’s first outing at Anfield, but there were still some things to take from the game.

Liverpool 0-3 Strasbourg

Pre-Season Friendly (5), Anfield
July 31, 2022

Goals: Thomasson 4′, 21′, Diallo 23′


An under-21s team

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 31, 2022: Liverpool players line-up for a team group photograph before a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and RC Strasbourg Alsace at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was effectively a Liverpool under-21 side. Only Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez and James Milner were over that age, meaning this team could be fielded in the Premier League 2.

It told, and the senior Strasbourg players were able to take advantage of a couple of errors by this inexperienced and unfamiliar Liverpool line up and score three goals in the first 20 minutes.

Liverpool became more dominant and threatening in front of goal as the players settled into the pace and the physicality against the visitors’ first-team.

It would have been nice to get a goal on the board, but these young players can look back on this game as lessons learned and as a reminder how difficult senior football can be, regardless of the opposition.

 

Fabio false 9

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 31, 2022: Liverpool's Fábio Carvalho during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and RC Strasbourg Alsace at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp commented recently that Fabio Carvalho could play through the middle if he bulked up a bit.

“He can play so many different positions for us, the way we play,” Klopp said.

“At the minute he’s not really set on one position — it’s the wing, it’s the eight, it’s the 10, it’s the false nine if he grows a few more muscles.”

In the absence of other strikers, with Diogo Jota still sidelined, Carvalho was asked to step into the role perhaps earlier than planned against a sturdy-looking Strasbourg back line.

The lack of physicality was evident at times, but there was one moment when he was able to use his body to hold off two defenders and win a free kick, and he grew into the game. At times his movement was reminiscent of Roberto Firmino.

At the moment it might not be an option outside of low-profile experimental games such as this, but he may grow into the role sooner rather than later, just as he did in this game.

 

Notable by their absence

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Monday, July 11, 2022: Liverpool's Naby Keita during a training session at the Rajamangala National Stadium on day two of the club's Asia Tour ahead of a friendly match against Manchester United FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coming the day after the Community Shield win against Man City, this game was always going to have the feel of a reserve or youth game, with few of the first teamers included.

However, the lineup was perhaps even more youthful than expected, with even some of the players who played just a few minutes against City not included.

Naby Keita and Curtis Jones may have been expected to feature here but weren’t even on the bench. James Milner, who played more minutes than both in Leicester, played the full 90.

This could mean that the duo are lined up for a role in the opening Premier League game of the season against Fulham, whether starting or off the bench. Conversely, it may also mean that Harvey Elliott and Carvalho may sit that one out.

 

Defensive test

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 31, 2022: Liverpool's Joe Gomez during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and RC Strasbourg Alsace at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was a good run out for Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez who were tasked with dealing with the considerable presence of Strasbourg’s two strikers, Habib Diallo and Ludovic Ajorque.

Central defenders working on their partnerships is always useful, and Gomez was able to get some minutes alongside Konate before moving to right back in the second half.

The Englishman has just been handed the No. 2 shirt, usually reserved for the right-back, but with Trent-Alexander Arnold retaining his signature No. 66 shirt, Gomez will take the number for his role as a utility defender who can cover at right-back if needed.

Half-time subs and a less than ideal injury to Konate in the second half meant the back four had three different looks in this game, with the 90 minutes being most useful for Gomez, plus a handy cameo from Sepp van den Berg.

 

Anfield stayed behind the team

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 31, 2022: Liverpool and RC Strasbourg players stand to remember former Liverpool FC owner David Moores during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and RC Strasbourg Alsace at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite seeing the team go three goals down in a fairly short space of time, the Anfield crowd still appeared to enjoy the occasion.

Those in attendance understood what this game was about, and remained behind the players throughout.

Harvey Davies’ couple of saves were cheered, and when Melkamu Frauendorf found the net in front of the Kop, everyone cheered even though the whole stadium, and probably Frauendorf himself, knew it was offside.

Cheers went up before kick-off when news of England’s goals against Germany filtered through, and there was another cheer when the result of the Euro 2022 final was announced

A pocket of Strasbourg fans also sang throughout, making more noise than their numbers suggested they could.

Now for the real football to begin; Craven Cottage in six days.

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