Just over two years after they last played the Norwegian outfit, Liverpool will once again face off against Valerenga in Oslo this week as part of their preseason preparations.
When these two sides met in 2011, the Reds were only able to muster a 3-3 draw after initially going 2-0 down before Andy Carroll’s initial effort was capitalised upon by a Daniel Agger brace.
This time around—and with Brendan Rodgers now at their helm—the Reds go to Norway’s capital with the view of maintaining their 100 percent preseason record.
So far, Liverpool have won all five of their friendly fixtures and are looking good ahead of the new campaign, with Rodgers’ newly assembled squad paying dividends so far.
What’s more, the Merseysiders are yet to concede even a single goal in preseason and boast a 13-0 aggregate record in those matches.
However, that pristine slate could all come crashing down in a matter of seconds on Wednesday, when Valerenga will look to mount another upset against their Premier League foes.
Who: Valerenga vs. Liverpool
When: Wednesday, August 7
Where: Ullevaal Stadium, Oslo, Norway
Time: Kickoff at 6:00 p.m. BST/1:00 p.m. ET
Viewing: LFC TV
Although the odds may seem stacked against them, Valerenga actually have one distinct advantage running in their favour against Liverpool.
The Norwegian top flight, the Tippeligaen, is actually in the middle of its 2013 season right now, meaning Wednesday’s meeting might see the hosts come off as ever so slightly more prepared for the encounter.
Just over a week ago, Valerenga were dominated by Barcelona in another friendly, however, finishing on the wrong end of a 7-0 scoreline, showing that perhaps there isn’t too much cause for fitness concerns.
Mohammed Fellah, the player whose 90th-minute equaliser rescued a draw for Valerenga the last time they met Liverpool, came close to netting against Gerardo Martino’s side but to no avail.
The attacking midfielder is once again expected to be one of his side’s main scoring threats against the Reds and will seek to maintain his scoring record against the English outfit.
For Rodgers, the only real injury concern is Daniel Sturridge, who’s been fighting against a knock to his ankle of late and is unlikely to be risked against the Norwegians.
As the Uruguayan's transfer saga lingers on, it’s uncertain whether Rodgers will throw Suarez into the fray or utilise others who might benefit more from the experience.
New signings Iago Aspas, Kolo Toure and Simon Mignolet have all been used extensively of late and are likely to receive more game time, while Luis Alberto could also feature at some point.
One to Watch
Having already proven he’s capable of setting the pitch alight during his first six months as a Liverpool player, Philippe Coutinho has continued his impressive form with the Reds this preseason.
The young Brazilian has scored thrice in Rodgers’ five preseason fixtures so far, always opening his team’s account.
Not only does this show his eye for goal, but it also shows the thirst, initiative and leadership qualities in being the man who steps forward and takes control of matters.
In truth, it’s been hard to pin an exact formation on what Rodgers is trying to encourage over the last month or so.
Somewhere between a 4-3-3 and 4-2-2-2 strategy lies the fluid and seemingly shifting approach the manager has looked to deploy—which seems to be working considering the side are yet to fail in scoring two goals or more in each of their last five outings.
It’s there that Coutinho likes to prowl, blurring the lines between attacking midfield and supporting striker, not too far from the trequartista role Shinji Kagawa thrived in at Borussia Dortmund or where Michu first played upon his Swansea City arrival.
As the catalyst of the Liverpool attack, almost every attacking move seems to flow through Coutinho. The 21-year-old has an ever-increasing hand in the side’s buildup play.
Coutinho is already making big moves as a Red, and Valerenga would appear next on the list to feel the wrath of an emerging Anfield hero.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup
Considering the Premier League season opener against Stoke City is just around the corner, Brendan Rodgers will almost certainly hold a little back this week, preserving the health of the squad that’s impressed so frequently of late.
That being said, the club’s new arrivals are likely to continue their prominence within the lineup as they continue to adjust and adapt to life as Reds. Luis Alberto could make just his second start for the club, while the likes of Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling will also be looking to feature.
In recent days, Rodgers has commented on the importance of showcasing the Liverpool side to fans in foreign countries who may not be able to attend games, meaning even more prominent first-team regulars should make appearances.
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