Karlsruher 2-4 Liverpool
Pre Season Friendly (1), BBBank Wildpark
July 19, 2021
Nunez 03′ (assist: Salah)
Gakpo 70′ (assist: Jota)
Henderson’s absence, combined with Fabinho‘s situation, plus Thiago and Stefan Bajcetic being injured, meant midfield options were extremely limited so Trent Alexander-Arnold operated in midfield in the first half.
Not much should be read into that, given the lack of midfielders available, nor with Alexis Mac Allister playing in the holding role in the second half.
Jurgen Klopp admitted we’re “struggling slightly with players” pre-match, hinting at the midfield issues.
Liverpool first half XI: Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Alexander-Arnold, Szoboszlai, Clark; Salah, Nunez, Diaz
Darwin Nunez, sporting the number nine shirt now, opened the scoring in the third minute in a strange manner. The Uruguayan opted to pass to Mo Salah when in on goal, which was an odd decision, but the ball ended up back at Nunez’s feet and he rolled it in.
Liverpool’s shape, when in possession, continued with the right-back, Conor Bradley, inverting in-field to create a 3-4-3 shape, giving a clear indication that that is set to remain this season.
Shortly before half time, the home side, who were opening their new 34,000-capacity stadium, equalised through an absolute beauty of a goal from German legend Lars Stindl – he expertly met a full volley on the edge of the box from a corner, arrowing in off the underside of the bar.
Half time: Karlsruher 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool second half XI: Jaros; Gomez, Quansah, Matip, Tsimikas; McConnell, Mac Allister, Gakpo; Doak, Jota, Scanlon ((Koumas 79′)
Once the half began, though, Kostas was drifting inside and teenage left-back Calum Scanlon was playing in midfield. It looked a mess and within five minutes the home side exploited the space for Sebastian Jung to smash home for the lead, 2-1.
As the half progressed, it emerged that Liverpool were experimenting with Kostas being the inverted midfielder from left-back, with Scanlon in an advanced wide role. More evidence that the 3-4-3 hybrid formation is here to stay.
Liverpool saw plenty of the ball thereafter and eventually got the equaliser through Cody Gakpo midway through the half when he dispatched nicely from Diogo Jota‘s knockdown.
This was Karlsruher’s seventh – yes, seventh – game of pre-season, but Liverpool controlled the game and certainly matched them for fitness, which is a positive sign for the Reds’ first friendly.
The Reds earned a win in stoppage time when Jota scored twice within a minute, finishing smartly for both.
As ever with pre-season, not too many conclusions should be drawn, especially given the lack of midfield personnel.
A good step for the squad, but an evening that will be remembered for the captain’s departure in rather bizarre circumstances.
Next Friendly: Greuther Furth (away, (behind closed doors) Monday, 24 July)