Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund: What Brendan Rodgers Learned from Friendly
Liverpool completed their preseason work over the summer with a rampant 4-0 win over Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund on Sunday, which gave great hope that the Reds can compete not only domestically but also in the Champions League this coming season.
Daniel Sturridge, Dejan Lovren, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson scored the goals as the Reds ran riot at Anfield, but it was an all-round impressive performance from most of the players involved.
Philippe Coutinho Is Ready to Rock
Brazilian attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been excellent in preseason for Liverpool and continued that form against Dortmund.
Against all-comers he has been inventive and bright. He is willing to run at defenders, releasing passes into space and getting himself into the penalty box. Dortmund saw him score one and be involved in several good phases of build-up play, as well as producing an outrageous assist for Sturridge.
He was Liverpool's best player on show once more, playing from a No. 10 position.
Get Sterling and Coutinho Linking Up Wherever Possible
Coutinho (22) was impressive, but he wasn't the only one—Raheem Sterling (19) once more was superb and decisive.
Much of the Reds' best play in the final third has come when those two youngsters link up together, and importantly for Liverpool, it doesn't appear to matter who takes which role.
They have linked when both were playing either side of a centre-forward, when Coutinho plays as a No. 10 and Sterling from the flanks, and when the Brazilian takes a deeper midfield role too. They both have tremendous intelligence of when to run with the ball, when to pass and when to hold their position.
Appreciation of space is an underappreciated talent in football at times, but these two have improved in this regard over the past year or so.
The Diamond Still Applies Even Without Two Strikers
While 4-3-3 has been Liverpool's starting tactic of choice for much of the preseason, it has mainly seemed to be as a result of only having one centre-forward available.
Brendan Rodgers, however, has shown plenty of adaptability in his tactics and also an appreciation that systems don't have to be symmetrical—an idea which some sides seem to have a strange aversion to accepting.
Against Dortmund, he went with a diamond midfield, one centre-forward and Raheem Sterling just off to one side, attacking mainly from the left flank but with plenty of licence and ability to break centrally. It also helped defensively as Sterling tracked back into defence when Dortmund's right-back, Lukasz Piszczek, broke forward repeatedly.
Dejan Lovren Has Quickly Won the Acclaim of the Kop
A £20 million signing needs to have a big impact usually to help get fans on his side, and perhaps that went especially for Dejan Lovren after he was Rodgers' choice as a new centre-back signing.
Lovren wasted no time at all in endearing himself to the supporters then. He crashed in an early header for a goal at Anfield—he also scored there last season as a Southampton player against the Reds—and then won several tackles and aerial duels and showed a good array of passing.
It remains to be seen whether he is kept in place for the opening weekend against his old team, but it was certainly an impressive opening 90 minutes in Red.
Jordan Henderson Can Add Double Figures from Midfield
Brendan Rodgers spoke recently about his hopes that midfielder Jordan Henderson could add plenty more goals to his game, as reported by Goal.com.
That's the objective for Jordan [to get more goals]. The finish he produced to get the equaliser, he does that day in, day out in training. He's a player that is so fit and strong, and he's such a team player - he does a lot of unselfish work. This year we're asking him to get more into the box.
Henderson managed four league goals and one in the cup last term, but Rodgers clearly values his ability to break from deep consistently and has twice in preseason used Henderson as a powerful No. 10 late on in games, using that physicality to be a threat in the area.
The England midfielder added another goal against Dortmund to go with his strike against Manchester City earlier in the month. The manager will hope that can continue into the competitive action once the season gets underway.