Thailand vs. Liverpool: Complete Preview, Team News and Predicted Reds Lineup

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistJuly 25, 2013

Thailand vs. Liverpool: Complete Preview, Team News and Predicted Reds Lineup

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    Liverpool's preseason tour of south-east Asia rumbles on on Sunday when the Reds face the Thailand national team at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium.

    With the Reds themselves estimating that they have around 14 million followers in the centre of the Indochina peninsula, there promises to be even more crazed scenes similar to the ones that greeted them in Jakarta and Melbourne on their tour so far.

    The visit marks 10 years since the Reds were last in Bangkok, when Gerard Houllier's side ran out 3-1 winners over Thailand thanks to a brace from Vladimir Smicer and a goal from Emile Heskey.

    Those names may have long gone, but Brendan Rodgers will be determined to repeat their result and see his side continue their 100 percent preseason record so far with a fourth win from their four matches.


Match Preview

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    The FIFA world rankings aren't taken too seriously by some, but Thailand's position in 138th place shows you what Liverpool are up against here.

    Rodgers' side have faced matches of differing difficulty throughout their preseason so far, with games against Preston North End, an Indonesian XI and Melbourne Victory all providing wins in various forms.

    The manager will, of course, tell you that these matches are all about gaining fitness for the big kickoff against Stoke City at Anfield in just over three weeks time, but the Reds will want to win for their fanatical Thai supporters.

    Three consecutive clean sheets during preseason will also have impressed and pleased Rodgers, but he might find that his team have a tough time keeping one against a side who demolished China 5-1 in an away friendly match just last month.

    The Thais did lose their two 2015 Asia Cup qualifiers to Lebanon and Kuwait before that, conceding eight goals in the process, but ahead of these matches against the Reds and then Barcelona on August 7, the team nicknamed "The War Elephants" will be determined to put up a good fight.

    For Liverpool, the match represents a midway point during a preseason schedule which will also see them face Olympiakos in Steven Gerrard's testimonial, travel to Norway to take on Valerenga and then face Celtic in a glamorous friendly in Dublin.

    It is around about now that the players' fitness levels should be showing improvement, and getting another win on the board is sure to increase levels of confidence going forward.

    The likes of Raheem Sterling and Jordon Ibe have impressed in preseason so far, and both will be looking to get into their manager's good books in a match in which the Reds will be looking to build on their eight preseason goals without reply thus far.


Team News

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    As with all aspects of this summer for Liverpool, Luis Suarez continues to dominate matters.

    The Uruguayan made a second-half appearance for the Reds in the friendly win over Melbourne Victory on Wednesday, when his body language may have been interpreted as being less than enthusiastic. However, he still managed to muster up enough effort to create a goal for Iago Aspas with the last kick of the game.

    Philippe Coutinho and Kolo Toure sat out that game with minor knocks that aren't expected to keep them out for long, and they could well return to a game which will probably see the likes of Suarez, Lucas Leiva, Stewart Downing, Martin Kelly, Daniel Agger and new signings Simon Mignolet, Luis Alberto and Aspas come into consideration for a start given that they missed the first hour of the Melbourne game.

    Preseason is all about giving enough of your players a chance to impress as possible, and Rodgers will be looking to do just that.

Predicted Reds Lineup

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    It is somewhat of an impossible task to pick Liverpool's starting XI for the match given the unpredictable nature of friendlies, but the Melbourne victory should offer some clues.

    Suarez's situation, and more importantly his lack of fitness, means that it is likely that he won't start, but providing that the knocks to Toure and Coutinho aren't too serious, the Reds' team could look like this:

    Simon Mignolet, Martin Kelly, Kolo Toure, Daniel Agger, Jack Robinson, Lucas Leiva, Steven Gerrard, Stewart Downing, Philippe Coutinho, Oussama Assaidi, Iago Aspas.