Liverpool’s International Champions Cup campaign begins against Olympiacos on Sunday, taking to Soldier Field looking to get their tournament off to a perfect start.
The Reds haven’t enjoyed the most fruitful of pre-season campaigns so far, but with preparation for the Premier League now stepping up, you can guarantee that manager Brendan Rodgers will be sending his side out in Chicago with a point to prove.
Here, we look ahead to Sunday’s match and assess who could be in line to start for Liverpool, with a debut or two very much in the pipeline.
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago
Date: Sunday, July 27
Time: 11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports 1 (U.K.)/Fox Sports 1 (U.S.)
Markovic Set for Debut While Lallana Misses Out
After losing two of their pre-season fixtures so far with experimental sides, it’s time for the serious business to get underway for Rodgers and Liverpool in the U.S.
Though the recent 1-0 loss to Roma in Boston was far from what the Reds deserved, the squad is set for a big reshuffle ahead of Sunday’s match.
Coming into the squad will be Daniel Sturridge, Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard and new signing Lazar Markovic, whom fans will be eager to see perform in Chicago.
Markovic joined the Reds from Benfica for £20 million earlier this month—per BBC Sport—and will likely make up a front three both on Sunday and in the upcoming Premier League campaign.
Playing in the ICC will give Markovic the opportunity to adapt to life in the red shirt, but Benfica director of football Rui Costa believes that he already has what it takes to be a Premier League star—per Dominic King of the Daily Mail:
Markovic is a huge talent and I believe his speed and skills can make a difference in the Premier League. He's not a physical player, but he has the ability and the flexibility to escape defenders easily. Apart from that, he's a really focused player. He loves football and enjoys playing and watching the game. Markovic is also very cold blooded when he's in one to one and he's not afraid on facing the opponents. He's always eager to learning, so I think he will adapt himself very quickly.
Playing against the physical force of Olympiacos will be a good start for Markovic’s adaptation process, but one man he won’t have alongside him is Adam Lallana, as Sky Sports' Pete O’Rourke reported:
The Englishman’s knee injury means he’ll play no part in the ICC and will face a fitness race ahead of the Premier League campaign.
Such news will come as a big blow to Rodgers, who recently sung Lallana’s praises while talking to the club’s official website:
Adam Lallana, as you'd expect, is a wonderful talent and we've seen that over the last couple of years in the Premier League. I've watched him since he was a young player and I've seen his progression. In this very short period of time of working with him, I've realised what a good man he is.
The 26-year-old will have to wait before he gets the chance to make his mark, but Rodgers will be hoping that his players can cope without Lallana on Sunday.
Though the Reds are expected to set up strongly, they cannot take anything for granted against Olympiacos, who thrashed AC Milan 3-0 in the tournament’s opener.
It’s bound to be a tight affair in Pool B, but Liverpool just about have what it takes to cross the line, and it would be far from a surprise to see Markovic integral to the victory.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Olympiacos