Liverpool has been entrenched in summer transfer market drama of late, but the Reds will get a respite from that talk when they head to Australia on Wednesday for an exciting friendly with Melbourne Victory.
As noted by LiverpoolFC.com, this will be the club’s first trip down under, and managing director Ian Ayre is excited for Liverpool to have a chance to play in front of some of their international fans:
We know we have a large fan base in Australia and New Zealand and this visit shows our commitment to bringing the club closer to our fans all over the globe, no matter how far away from Anfield they may live. We are very much looking forward to playing in Melbourne and giving our supporters a chance to see the team up close.
According to Phil Thomas of The Sun, the match will also be a chance for embattled striker Luis Suarez to make a return to the pitch. Suarez is in the midst of a 10-match ban following a biting incident last term, and has also been rumoured to potentially be on the move as Premier League clubs like Arsenal attempt to acquire his services, per Declan Warrington of the Daily Mail.
Thomas notes that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers expects Suarez to ultimately remain with the club going forward, and that he’ll plan to feature the striker in this friendly.
For Melbourne Victory, playing Liverpool on their home soil will be an opportunity to play their style of football and put on a show for supporters of both sides.
As quoted by Jesse Hogan of TheAge.com, Victory coach Ange Postecoglou wants his club to play with some flair against the Premier League side:
We want entertainment, we want goals. You don't want to die wondering … I'm not that kind of coach, I've never been that kind of person. I'd rather know there's a gap there than never find out. We can go out there tomorrow and play defensively … but that doesn't become meaningful. I'd rather go out there and give it everything we've got. If we can play our style of football against world-class opponents, even if it is in moments, I reckon that's a good sign for us.
While Victory will certainly be at a disadvantage against the EPL side, it should be an exciting match to watch.
Where: Melbourne Cricket Ground; Yarra Park, Melbourne
When: Wednesday, July 24, at 6 a.m. ET (11 a.m. BST)
Television/Streaming: ESPN UK, ABC Grandstand Sport (Australia)
Players to Watch
Luis Suarez, Liverpool
The 90,000 cheering spectators at MCG are going to be far more absorbed with seeing Liverpool in person, but the English contingent watching the match abroad will no doubt be interested in Suarez’s return to the pitch.
The 26-year-old striker has been linked to several transfer rumours this summer, and it remains to be seen if the Uruguayan will be on the roster when the Reds finish their preseason slate.
Still, returning to the club may be a good thing for the Suarez saga. After all, Liverpool have enjoyed a lot of success with Suarez at the reins, and it may just take a little more of that success to convince him to stick around.
In addition, Suarez is likely to see a lot of action against the Australian A-Leaguers at the front of Liverpool’s attack. If the Reds hope to convince Suarez to stay at Anfield, Rodgers will likely give him all the playing time he wants to get acclimated with the club again.
Adrian Leijer, Melbourne Victory
With all due respect to the Australian side, this isn’t going to be much of a contest. Liverpool are a tremendous club loaded with talent, and Victory will be without several of their best players as a result of the EAFF Cup and a couple of costly injuries.
Victory would struggle with a fully equipped roster, but they’ll field nothing close to that on Wednesday. The Australian side may play an all-out, exciting style of football in hopes of putting on a show, but the result won’t be a Victory celebration.
Of the players taking to the pitch for Victory, defender Adrian Leijer will be the one to watch on Wednesday. The team captain and former Fulham man is arguably the most noteworthy player on the roster for the match, and he’ll also be tasked with slowing a tremendous Liverpool attack led by Suarez.
The 27-year-old center back is one of few Premier League-caliber players who will be featured by Victory and, as such, he’ll also be the player to watch from the Australian side.
Prediction: Liverpool 6, Melbourne Victory 0