Lyn Oslo v Liverpool, pre-season friendly, August 5, 2009
While it would be wrong and foolish to draw too many conclusions from any pre-season friendly, Liverpool’s 3-0 hammering at the hands of Espanyol will likely have left the Reds less than happy before they travel to Norway for their penultimate match of the pre-season schedule.
Pre-season has been tough for the Merseysiders. So far the Reds have only recorded one victory in the run-up to the new Premier League campaign, a 5-0 thrashing of Singapore. But on the flipside the Reds recorded forgettable draws in Switzerland and Thailand, a slightly more memorable 1-0 defeat to Rapid Vienna, and then last Sunday’s heavy loss in Spain.
The defeat to Espanyol was all that bitter to swallow as Benitez fielded arguably his strongest side of the summer. At the back Pepe Reina started between the sticks, as new £18 million signing Glen Johnson made his first appearance at right-back for the club with Emiliano Insua starting on the left. (Liverpool are 8/13 to keep a clean sheet.) In midfield Rafa’s three mainstays—Benayoun, Mascherano, and Gerrard—were all started from kick-off and up top Fernando Torres made his first start of the new year.
Similar options will be available to Benitez when his side touches down in Oslo, the Spanish manager having almost a full squad to choose from, aside from injuries to Martin Skrtel, Nabil El Zhar and Fabio Aurelio. Elsewhere, the only question-marks about the squad revolve around the futures of Xabi Alonso and Andrea Dossena. Both players could well have moved on from Anfield before Wednesday’s match begins.
The Norwegians are probably best known to English football fans as the club from which Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel (pictured) emerged.
These days though Lyn have far less glamorous players on their books as the side struggles at the bottom of the 16-club Tippeligaen, a massive eight points adrift of second-bottom FK Bodo Glimt. The last ten league matches have been particularly tough for the Oslo outfit, chalking up only one win and three draws balanced against six defeats.
Lyn have virtually no well-known players on their books and will likely be reliant on their Uruguayan midfielder Diego Guastavino for inspiration against last season’s Premier League runners-up. Guastavino is best known for his shots from distance, having already notched seven goals this season.
Even if Lyn Oslo hadn’t been in such a funk, Liverpool should still have had far too much in their locker to walk away with a win. In the current climate though, Liverpool’s win should be sizable.
101predicts: Lyn Oslo 0 - Liverpool 3 (8/1)
Full match odds here.