In their third and final match as part of the International Champions Cup, Liverpool smashed Barcelona 4-0 in Wembley. A week before the Premier League begins, it’s a terrific way to build up some confidence.
The problems with these preseason wins, and especially against the likes of Barcelona, it’s that it raises the expectations bar a tad high, probably way too high. Liverpool fans tend to do that. Being supporters of a major club that has gone 26 years and counting without a league title, they tend to get swept away with any signs that suggest their club is heading towards a great season. But it’s just a friendly works quite well with this specific match.
Jurgen Klopp is obviously going to be measured by results, and where Liverpool finish in the league. But in order for the finish to be as good as some of the promising start has been, one thing has to change. Liverpool, and Klopp teams in general, are fantastic against teams that value possession football, like Barcelona, especially not a Barcelona side at full strength. The high pressure, terrific work rate and the position switching worked wonders in three of Liverpool’s four goals (Sadio Mane, Divock Origi, Marko Grujic and a Javier Mascherano own goal). The problems for Liverpool begins against sides that don’t mind sitting back, relying on counter attacking too.
This is something that’s been a problem for Klopp, unless he has an insanely talented side (like his 2011-2013 Dortmund team), ever since he rose to prominence as one of the best managers in Europe. Liverpool had their shining moments under him last season, but there were plenty of disappointing results, and the 1-3 loss in the Europa League final against Sevilla was further proof that he needs to improve in his game management skills, and the squad of players need to change.
As this season is about to begin, Klopp has said he’s happy with the squad he has; that it’s a team that looks like the kind he wants, adding four players from the German Bundesliga, along with Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum, both of them from the Premier League. The club didn’t go on some extravagant spending spree: £69 million on new players, £46 million in players sold. Very reasonable for a club of this size, which has seen too many summers of money being spent on mediocrity; the kind that’s difficult to get rid of a year or two later. Just ask Mario Balotelli and Christian Benteke.
Bottom line? Fans should be happy that Liverpool are looking good during most of their preseason matches, and the 4-0 win over Barcelona is something to be happy about. However, it means nothing when it comes to their prospects of doing well in the Premier League, taking a Champions League spot or winning the league title. It’s something that builds confidence and puts a smile on everyone’s face, but nothing beyond that.