Liverpool's players returned for the start of preseason training Tuesday, with the majority of them arriving early in the morning to their Melwood training ground.
Almost two weeks of intensive fitness tests and training awaits the Reds' playing staff in preparation for the start of their friendly programme, which begins July 13. Liverpool will play seven preseason friendlies all told, travelling the entire way around the globe in the process.
Only one of those seven games will be played at Anfield, and it will be a particularly poignant occasion.
Here's your complete guide to the Reds' preseason programme...
Preston North End, Saturday, July 13
The Reds will kick off their series of friendly games with a match against local League One outfit Preston. They ended last season in 14th place and will provide the Reds with a decent opening run-out, where Brendan Rodgers will likely use a combination of youngsters and senior players who will play around 45 minutes each.
Former Liverpool midfielder John Welsh is currently a Preston player and has said he is looking forward to playing against his old club (via chesterchronicle.co.uk).
It is commonplace for the Reds to take on a lower-league side based in the vicinity of the North West of England to kick off the preseason campaign, with the likes of Crewe and Wrexham providing previous regular opposition.
This will be the only preseason game played against English opposition.
The LFC Summer Tour
Liverpool are headed to Australia as their main tour this summer, but with such a long journey to get there, the club is taking the opportunity to play a game on the way there and another on the way back.
Saturday, July 20, Liverpool will take on an Indonesia XI side in Jakarta before heading to Australia to play Melbourne Victory Wednesday, July 24. The final stop of the tour, and the last game, will be in Thailand to play a national side select Sunday, July 28.
The Reds' second game, in Australia, is sure to be an extraordinary spectacle with a huge crowd expected at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Tickets for the game were snapped up at a furious rate, with close to 100,000 sold in less than half an hour.
It will be Liverpool's first trip to Australia, while their support in the likes of Thailand is extraordinary and the Reds players can expect to be greeted by passionate fans and a huge following, even for training sessions.
Those three matches will make up the bulk of Liverpool's early preseason programme, with manager Rodgers likely to rotate his squad heavily during that period to ensure as many of the players as possible get extensive sessions on the pitch. As with last year's tour to North America, it could be that plenty of the younger players from the under-18s or under-21s are included in the travelling party.
It is not yet clear whether Confederations Cup participants will be heading away with the team, which would potentially include Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates, as well as goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Olympiacos: Steven Gerrard Testimonial
The first match Liverpool will play in August is also an important one for one player in particular: club captain Steven Gerrard.
Though it will be classed as a preseason game for the team, it will be Gerrard's testimonial to mark his years of service to the club. Gerrard has played 630 competitive matches for Liverpool all told and looks a good bet to overtake former teammate Jamie Carragher in time (737).
One of Gerrard's finest moments in a Red shirt came against Olympiacos in the group stage of the 2004-05 UEFA Champions League final, when he smashed in the all-important late third goal to send the Reds through to the knockouts, from where they—he—went on to lift the trophy.
Liverpool vs. Olympiacos this time around will be rather less intense and rather a cause for celebration and preparation.
The game takes place Saturday, August 3, at Anfield—the only home friendly the Reds will play this summer.
Two Games for the Fans to Wrap Up the Summer
Liverpool will conclude their summer programme by playing two matches with particular emphasis on the fanbase.
First up, they will take on Norwegian side Valerenga Wednesday, August 7. The Reds support is well known to be both fanatical and established in all parts of Scandinavia, and there will likely be a bigger show of support for the away side than the home in this particular fixture.
This will be the sixth time Liverpool have faced Valerenga in a friendly game, with the last occasion ending 3-3 two years ago. Andy Carroll and a Daniel Agger brace were the goals for the Reds.
Finally, Liverpool's seventh match will be another one where the fan interest closer-to-home will reach epic proportions, as Liverpool and Celtic play each other at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.
Much of the football-watching public in the country follow either one of those two sides, along with Manchester United being vastly popular, and so demand for tickets and atmosphere in the buildup can expect to be great.
That final preseason fixture takes place Saturday, August 10—and one week later, the Reds season gets up and running properly with their opening Premier League match at home against Stoke City.
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