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New midfield & rising stars – 5 things fans should keep an eye out for in 1st friendly

Liverpool kick off their pre-season schedule for 2023/24 with a friendly against Karlsruher SC at Wildparkstadion on Wednesday.

For Reds supporters, this will be the first glimpse at the new-look team Jurgen Klopp is preparing for a campaign that it is hoped will be far more successful than the last.

Although this is just the first of five outings prior to the campaign beginning in earnest, there should still be plenty of clues as to how Liverpool are shaping up in the early stages.

Here, we pick out five things fans should keep an eye out for during the game.

 

Nunez the No. 9

Having now succeeded Roberto Firmino as Liverpool’s No.9, Darwin Nunez will be out to show that he can prove himself worthy of the shirt this season.

The Uruguayan endured a mixed first campaign at Anfield, with niggling injuries, missed chances, and a stint on the left wing all contributing.

However, he also managed to bag a more-than-respectable 15 goals for a team that looked a shadow of its former self across the season as a whole.

That return is fuelling hope that Nunez will kick on massively this year, and Wednesday would be a good time for him to start showing that will be the case.

 

New-look midfield

Liverpool’s struggles last term were largely rooted in a dysfunctional midfield, which is why they have moved so decisively to address that weakness this summer.

And fans will be eager to see what sort of impact the additions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai can have in terms of bringing much-needed quality in the centre of the park.

It may only be a friendly, but it will be interesting to see if Klopp pairs the two players from the off as the left and right-sided eights you would hope they will establish themselves as.

Either way, it will simply be excited to see the impact both men can have on an area of the pitch that so problematic last time out.

 

‘New’ shape here to stay?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 20, 2023: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of course, where Szoboszlai and Mac Allister feature will have a lot to do with the formation that Klopp deploys for both this friendly and the season proper.

After enjoying such success in the run-in with a new shape that gave Trent Alexander-Arnold license to roam into midfield, the German will surely be minded to continue in that vein.

Clearly, if the Reds want to sustain the momentum they built up toward the end of last season, then it would make little sense to implement sweeping tactical changes at this point.

But Klopp may not take the same view, and we will only find out when he lines up his team against Karlsruher.

 

Luis Diaz out to impress

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 20, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Díaz during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It would be fair to describe 2022-23 as a season to forget for most Liverpool players, but that is particularly true of Luis Diaz.

Injured in pre-season, re-injured in the mid-season break, and then never properly fit before the end of the campaign, the Colombian won’t look back on the last 12 months with any real affection.

Despite that lengthy absence, Diaz remains most fans’ first pick on the left-hand side of Klopp’s three-man attack ahead of the likes of Diogo Jota and Nunez.

He will hope to prove why he is so highly rated in hitting the ground running this season, starting in Germany.

 

Youngsters blooded

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 19, 2023: Liverpool's Ben Doak during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-21's and Chelsea FC Under-21's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Liverpool set to feature in the less-prestigious Europa League this season, there are surely going to be more minutes than usual on offer to the club’s young players.

And there is no better way of putting yourself in line for such opportunities than by impressing the manager in pre-season friendlies.

As always, Klopp will be selective over which youngsters feature most heavily in the coming games, with his decisions made on the basis of who impresses most in training.

And we will get an insight as to who is standing out in the early part of pre-season when the appearances are dished out against Karlsruher.