While the preseason fixtures do not mean much when it comes to wins and losses, they can play a big role when it comes to preparing for the upcoming season.
American fans in Boston will be in for a treat when top European clubs Liverpool and AS Roma compete against each other at Fenway Park on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. In the match, stars such as Francesco Totti and Daniel Sturridge should be able to shine bright as they always do.
However, a few other players will be under a bit more pressure in this competition. Although not everything will be riding on this match, there will be a close eye on these men to perform up to their peak abilities in this highly anticipated battle.
Ashley Cole, Roma
After a long career with Chelsea, Ashley Cole has made the move abroad and will now do his best to help out Roma in Serie A. The question is whether he can still get it done at left-back at 33 years old.
The defender had an up-and-down year at Chelsea last season. The club as a whole allowed the fewest goals in the English Premier League, but he made a number of individual mistakes and did not help out much on the attack.
However, his experience and positioning should be a nice boost for a club competing for a Serie A title.
Before the Italian season starts, however, Cole will be asked to play a big role as the only player familiar with Liverpool. The English star certainly has a lot of playing time in his career against the Reds, and his knowledge of EPL play could be a big boost for the entire club.
It will be a new experience for everyone involved, but Cole will get a chance to show his new side what he is capable of in this match.
Juan Iturbe, Roma
While Cole is looking to show that he still has it, Juan Iturbe is instead trying to prove that he is ready for the big time.
The 21-year-old midfielder/winger totaled eight goals and four assists for Verona last season and is now looking to break through with Roma. A good performance on this American tour could go a long way toward securing a role on the first team.
Manager Rudi Garcia explained that Iturbe is someone his staff will keep an eye on this month, via Rob Harms of the Boston Globe:
We were looking for a fast winger, [an] attacking player who attacks the width, who scores goals. And he has all these qualities. But we should not place too much pressure on Juan Iturbe. He’s only 21 years old. He has a lot of room for improvement, and we have to be patient with him.
Roma had a quality offense last season, but they still need more help to keep up with Juventus. With the amount of upside Iturbe possesses, it will make sense to get him on to the pitch as soon as possible against Liverpool.
Adam Lallana, Liverpool
Liverpool were happy to bring in a quality midfielder in Adam Lallana this summer, but fans were not too happy with the £25 million price tag.
Still, the former Southampton star is coming off an excellent year where he totaled nine goals and six assists without much talent around him. He proved the ability to line up anywhere in the midfield and still find ways to help out the attack.
Adding him to a Liverpool side that features much better finishers and Lallana should be ready for a great season. James Masters of CNN provides insight into the move:
#LFC fans - let me tell you now, you have an absolute gem of a player in Adam Lallana. One of the most exciting English players in the game.— James Masters (@Masters_JamesD) July 1, 2014
Manager Brendan Rodgers will likely move him around during the next few weeks to see where he fits best with Liverpool, but his pure skill should be on display regardless. This should start right away in the friendly against Roma.
At the very least, he can make Liverpool fans feel better that the transfer cost more than the Toni Kroos move to Real Madrid.
Jordon Ibe, Liverpool
With Luis Suarez transferring to Barcelona, Liverpool will need to see some of their younger players step up in his absence. Sturridge and Raheem Sterling are already part of the core, but Jordon Ibe can join this group if he can continue his strong showing this month.
Used on the right after his introduction, Ibe missed a good chance, but after the break he shone on the left of attack, creating numerous chances and using his pace to great effect.
Easily the standout performer from the match, he's now assisted all three of the Reds' goals so far in pre-season.
Paul Tomkins has also been impressed by Ibe's upside:
Jordan Ibe still raw at 18, but the way he receives the ball & turns is like a top international. Has pace, skill; now about decision-making— Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins) July 19, 2014
Despite his young age, he clearly has a chance to play his way into the first team at Liverpool if he keeps up his current level of play. This includes the upcoming match against a quality opponent in Roma.
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