Olympiacos vs. Liverpool: International Champions Cup Grade, Post-Match Reaction

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2014

Liverpool FC forward Daniel Sturridge, left, controls the ball against Olympiacos defender Dimitris Siovas (23) during the first half of a Guinness International Champions Cup soccer match in Chicago, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Liverpool continued their preseason preparations for 2014-15 season with another friendly in the United States, playing in the International Champions Cup and this time taking a 1-0 victory over Olympiacos.

Raheem Sterling scored an early goal that turned out to be the winner, after which neither side could add to that strike despite a few close calls.

Liverpool took just five minutes and one attack to score the game's opening goal, with the midfield taking advantage of a sloppy pass and Steven Gerrard immediately firing a low ball into the feet of Daniel Sturridge. The striker turned to shoot, but saw his effort bounce straight to Sterling—who tucked away first time from close range.

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 27: Liverpool celebrates Raheem Sterling's #31 goal against the Olympiacos FC during the International Champions Cup 2014 on July 27, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

Glen Johnson lost the ball and conceded a chance to Armenian Gevorg Ghazaryan shortly afterward, but he only managed to curl off target.

Lazar Markovic dribbled his way to the edge of the box on 20 minutes, his first real involvement, and won a free kick at the end of it—which Daniel Sturridge hit into the wall and Steven Gerrard blazed over on the rebound.

Olympiacos had the better of the remainder of the half, with Javier Saviola wasting a chance and Giannis Maniatis having a shot blocked from range. The Reds did have other chances themselves, with Sturridge shooting off target with his right foot and Markovic dribbling between two defenders before curling a shot wide.

Decent first half from Liverpool. Look a real threat going forward with front 3 of Markovic, Sturridge and Sterling very lively. #LFC

— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) July 27, 2014

Into the second half, Olympiacos came out quickly, and Ghazaryan struck the crossbar within minutes of the restart, curling an effort from 20 yards past Brad Jones. At the other end of the pitch, Sturridge chipped into the net but had already been flagged offside.

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 27:  Glen Johnson #2 of Liverpool is defended by Dimitris Siovas #23 of Olympiacos FC during the International Champions Cup 2014 on July 27, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

After a spate of subs, the game looked more stretched, though quality chances at either end remained at a premium. A defensive error from Joe Allen gave Andreas Bouchalakis a chance to run through on goal, but a combination of Jones and Seb Coates prevented him finding an equaliser.

Coates has a good pre-season but I'm not sure if it's because the tempo isn't great.

— MrBoywunder (@MrBoywunder) July 28, 2014

Andreas Samaris hit a late effort, which Brad Jones saved, and from the ensuing counter-attack, Joe Allen shot wide at the near post as time ran down and the Reds took the win.


Key Player Grades

Raheem Sterling, Liverpool, FWD: B

Sterling got the ball rolling with a well-taken strike early on, but more impressive than the goal itself was his direct run through the centre, a key part of his game that he has developed over the past eight months or so.

Whether from wide or a central starting point, the youngster is a big threat with his off-the-ball movement. Once again he was diligent in his defensive duties and involved in much of the team's offensive play.

Sturridge was good actually - but Sterling was most impressive when on the pitch, for me. Thought Henderson and Skrtel also did well.

— Kristian Walsh (@Kristian_Walsh) July 28, 2014


Emre Can, Liverpool, MID: C

Largely quiet in the opening 30 minutes, Emre Can pressed well off the ball in midfield and worked hard to close out spaces, though he did not really dictate the flow of the game in possession. A couple of charging runs down the channels opened the game up, and he created one good chance for Markovic as a result.

He played 45 minutes as the left-sided central midfielder in the middle trio.

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 27: Ionnis Maniatis #2 of Olympiacos FC and Emre Can #23 of Liverpool go for the ball during the International Champions Cup 2014 on July 27, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images


Javier Saviola, Olympiacos, FWD: D

Saviola missed one very presentable chance to equalise before half-time when he waited too long to shoot and was tackled by Jose Enrique. Other than that, his big contribution in the first 45 minutes was to dive twice: He won a free kick the first time, but was booked for simulation the second, inside the penalty area.

Saviola Dive vs Liverpool. Embarrassing this... https://t.co/c9l0oUCIUP

— MostarLFC (@MostarLFC) July 27, 2014


Post-Match Reaction

Manager Brendan Rodgers was pleased with his side's efforts and how the team's fitness continued to build up, as per LiverpoolFC.com.

I've been delighted. I know this group well and know the players coming in are suited and will fit what we're trying to do. The most important date for me is the Southampton game. Come that game, we'll be ready - the players have shown they're well on track towards that.

He also talked about his attacking players including debutant Lazar Markovic and striker Daniel Sturridge.

I've seen a difference in Daniel since he came back. He has obviously got confidence from the World Cup and his season last year. I think he's ready to take on the mantle. He got 20-odd goals last season so he's a striker of great value.

Markovic will only get better and better. He showed great strength when he burst through and hopefully later on when he picks up that speed and sharpness in his game, he'll go on and finish that.

Meanwhile, the transfer news was also confirmed surrounding Loic Remy.

After a 1-0 win over Olympiakos 1-0 in Chicago Brendan Rodgers confirms Liverpool's move for Loic Remy is off.

— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) July 28, 2014