Jurgen Klopp’s side were at their
aggressive best against the Spanish
giants on Saturday evening as they
implemented their blueprint excellently.
Fifty minutes had not yet passed at
Wembley, but Liverpool’s attacking blur
had already finished off Barcelona. By
then it was 3-0, with Lionel Messi
standing with his hand over his mouth
in disbelief as he looked up at the
Jurgen Klopp had made it abundantly
clear ahead of kick off that the result
of this International Champions Cup
match would mean little but his side’s
execution in the 4-0 victory certainly
provided sizeable encouragement.
When Sadio Mane powered the Reds in
front after a period of sustained
aggression, the 49-year-old displayed
his trademark rapid fist-pump before
turning to the dugout with a knowing
look. The goal, born from Adam
Lallana winning the ball back and
Liverpool transitioning speedily, was
straight out of their pre-season
playbook .
Jordan Henderson forced an own goal
from Javier Mascherano, Divock Origi
followed that up with another
composed finish for his ever-growing
archive and Marko Grujic converted a
stunning header. All four goals had the
same theme: steal possession and turn
it over incisively.
During their tour of the United States,
Liverpool worked rigorously on
counter-attacks. At their camp in
California, there was often no
opposition as the team worked on the
exercises so repetitively it would
become habit.
On Saturday evening, however, they
had the best team in the world trying to
thwart them and while it was only a
pre-season test, the players and
backroom team will be inspired to see
their blueprint implemented so
Klopp wanted to use the game to
measure how much his side still needed
to do before next weekend’s Premier
League opener at Arsenal and on the
evidence provided, his list will be quite
short. “Always when we were active we
were really good and when we were
defending, our passing game after
winning balls, our direction – great
football, good build-up, we played
between their rows and in the half-
spaces and it was all good,” he said in
the aftermath of the blitz.
In his pre-match press conference,
Klopp was adamant he was not
interested in what Barcelona could or
couldn’t do but solely focused on
Liverpool’s development. “It’s about
us,” he said, and while prior to kick-off
talk at Wembley centered around Luis
Suarez, once the first whistle went it
was indeed the Liverpool show.
“We didn’t think before the game we
are one level with Barca and we don’t
think after the game we are on a higher
level than Barca – we are not crazy,”
said Klopp.
“But the only job to do today was to
play football as good as possible and
we did it.”
Rather excellently, too.