Liverpool vs. AC Milan: How the Reds Will Line Up in International Champions Cup
After Liverpool’s penalty-shootout win against Manchester City on Wednesday, next up for the Reds in their International Champions Cup campaign is a final group-stage fixture against AC Milan on Saturday.
Having played a number of his senior stars against City midweek, Brendan Rodgers will perhaps be looking to give his younger players a run-out against the Italian giants, and the Reds go into the fixture knowing that a win would hand them a place in the ICC final next week.
Here’s how we think the Reds will line up on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper: Pepe Reina
With Brad Jones starting on Wednesday against Manchester City and Simon Mignolet coming on as a second-half substitute, Saturday may be Pepe Reina’s last chance to salvage any career at Liverpool.
It’ll be a chance for him to impress Rodgers and to get some minutes under his belt if he does indeed spend the campaign at Anfield.
Right-Back: Glen Johnson
Martin Kelly got a well-deserved run-out against City from the start midweek, and with the imminent signing of Javier Manquillo from Atletico Madrid (per The Telegraph), Glen Johnson may find his right-back slot threatened by two up-and-coming youngsters. Perhaps another player on borrowed time?
Left-Back: Jack Robinson
Jose Enrique has had enough playing time for Brendan Rodgers to make a decision on his future at Anfield, while Jon Flanagan played himself back into first-team contention last season. So now it’s time to really take a look at Jack Robinson and whether he has what it takes to deliver the goods against a high-profile team.
Center-Back: Martin Skrtel
With Dejan Lovren having been denied a US visa to join up with his new teammates on their American tour, per the Daily Mail, the likes of Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure will get another chance to prove to Rodgers that either of them deserve to partner Mamadou Sakho in the heart of the Reds' defence.
Center-Back: Mamadou Sakho
To secure a starting spot in a crowded defence at Anfield, Mamadou Sakho will have fought off the challenge of Daniel Agger, Sebastian Coates and Kolo Toure on the left side of the center of defence. He will be expected to prosper and excel this season after a stop-start first year.
Holding Midfielder: Emre Can
In his preseason cameos, Emre Can has already done much to get the Liverpool fanbase excited about what he has in his locker: Pace, power, physicality, direct running, creativity and even an eye for goal.
Rodgers’ long-term goal for Can might be for him to replace current captain Steven Gerrard, and if he continues to play and develop as he has, it might not be a far shout at all.
Central Midfielder: Joe Allen
Joe Allen has been overshadowed so far during preseason by Can, who has settled into the side almost immediately, and Jordan Henderson, who has continued where he left off last season.
If Allen is to avoid slipping down the midfield pecking order this season, he will need to show more consistently the ability, technique and composure that he undoubtedly possesses.
Attacking Midfielder: Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling played a part in setting up Liverpool’s first equalizer against City, passing into the path of Daniel Sturridge, who laid it on for Henderson to score. Sterling then went on to score the Reds’ second and hit a fine effort that was controversially ruled offside at the death.
Playing on the left of a three-pronged attack, Sterling impressed midweek in the position he began his Liverpool career in, but he has been used in the No. 10 role over the past few months.
With Philippe Coutinho one of their standout stars over preseason, Sterling could come into the attacking midfield role to allow Coutinho a rest and also to get some minutes in a less familiar role.
Right Forward: Suso
Suso has featured less prominently during Liverpool’s American tour, but his previous performances against Brondby and Preston North End caught the eye after a productive campaign on loan at Almeria.
He might get the nod from the start against AC Milan, where he will be keen to make a good impression and stake his claim for a first-team spot this season.
Left Forward: Jordon Ibe
Much like Suso, Jordon Ibe has found his playing time in the US few and far between, but his electrifying displays before the American tour were more than exciting enough to warrant a first-team chance.
So Ibe could also get a start in his most effective position, cutting in from the left side of the attack.
Striker: Rickie Lambert
So often isolated in attack against City, Rickie Lambert hasn’t gotten his Liverpool career off to a flying start, but he has shown glimpses here and there of the qualities he can bring to the Reds attack.
As the focal point of a young forward line, Lambert has an opportunity to lead the line against AC Milan—and perhaps even open his account for his boyhood club.