Liverpool ran out 5-0 winners against RB Leipzig in Saxony as they resoundingly stepped up their pre-season preparations with an encouraging performance.
For almost the entire 90 minutes, Liverpool looked streets ahead of their Bundesliga opponents in terms of match sharpness, preparation and harmony.
Most encouragingly for Jurgen Klopp was the performance of his new £85m forward, Darwin Nunez who scored four second half goals. They were his first for the club, with the Uruguayan having looked a bit nervous and short of a yard of pace in Liverpool’s previous two pre-season encounters.
With just over a week to go until Liverpool face off against Manchester City at the King Power in the season’s traditional curtain raiser, these are five things Sportsmail learned from their rout in Leipzig.
Darwin Nunez impressed in the second half as he scored four on an encouraging night for Liverpool
Nunez finally shows up to the party
The biggest encouragement for Liverpool was Nunez getting himself on the score sheet and looking a bit more like the multi-million pound striker that the Reds signed earlier this summer.
His touch and runs all looked cleaner than they did against Manchester United and Crystal Palace, with the forward appearing to have begun developing relationships with his teammates.
Nunez’s first goal came from the spot and in truth, should have been kept out with the ball at a perfect height and speed for the Leipzig goalkeeper to push away.
Nunez’s penalty appeared to give him bags of confidence to go and score some more
That appeared to be all he needed, as he immediately looked a player filled with confidence. And like London buses, as soon as one arrived, so did another.
His second goal was very well taken, with Alexander-Arnold having played a nice ball into the inside-right space in the box. His shot across Janis Blaswich gave the ‘keeper little chance.
His third, coming from Liverpool winning the ball high up and Harvey Elliot squaring it for his new teammate, gave him his hat-trick, and you’d imagine bags of confidence as we draw closer to the new season.
The Uruguayan not only looked sharper but appeared to be combining better with teammates
He wasn’t finished then, and when he scored his fourth he looked slightly embarrassed, as all players tend to when they perform well in a pre-season encounter.
Of course, this was a pre-season friendly against a side that in truth did not look at all fit. Liverpool will be expecting far more, in games that matter, for the expense that they paid Benfica last month.
What will be interesting is whether or not he’ll start from the outset against Manchester City in the Community Shield next weekend. On the evidence of this, albeit against a poor looking Leipzig side, Klopp would be a fool not to at least consider it.
Liverpool look sharper on and off the ball
It is uncertain whether or not an extra game’s preparation really makes that much difference, but it appeared to here. Liverpool are a game ahead of their opponents in terms of matches played this pre-season and that appeared obvious throughout the first half.
One notable moment that displayed the superior sharpness of Jurgen Klopp’s players came when Leipzig retrieved the ball off a Liverpool corner and had the opportunity to break.
They showed on more than a few occasions last season how adept they are at counter-attacking and it appeared to be another of those moments here. However, Domenik Szobozslai’s pass forward to Christopher Nkunku was smartly cut out by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who had to cover at least 30 more metres than the France international. With over two weeks to go until the start of the season, Liverpool’s sharpness bodes well.
Trent Alexander-Arnold sped in to beat Christopher Nkunku to the ball – he had to travel at least 30m further than the France international
Mohamed Salah looking focused
One of the smartest pieces of business done by any club so far this summer has to be Liverpool tying Salah down to a new deal.
His contract dispute rumbled at the end of last season and it had the real air of something that could potentially destabilise both club and player heading into a new campaign.
As it was, however, an announcement that came earlier this month signified that Salah would be remaining at the club. It appears to have had a positive impact on the forward, who looked focused and sharp during this encounter.
With Salah one of the more high-profile players that won’t be heading to Qatar in the late autumn, Liverpool fans can surely expect another big season from their talisman.
Mohamed Salah took his goal really well and threatened RB Leipzig throughout the first half
Could Kostas Tsimikas challenge Andy Robertson for a starting place this year?
Twelve months ago, that would have read as one of the more ridiculous statements. However, now it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Klopp calls upon his Greek left-back more often this season.
A crucial moment last season, when he slotted the winning penalty against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, showed that he is trusted by the Liverpool coaching staff and, if he continues to impress, could challenge Robertson.
Robertson barely got on the ball in the first half and certainly did not look the sharpest player on the Liverpool side. However, Tsimikas appeared like a playe on a mission when he was introduced and you’d imagine that mission is to try and wrestle the starting left-back spot off Scotland’s captain.
Kostas Tsimikas enjoyed his finest moment in a Liverpool shirt to date with his penalty against Chelsea in the FA Cup final – it could signify that he is ready to challenge Andy Robertson
Of course, many in Liverpool’s squad experienced real heartache at the end of last season, missing out on the Premier League by a point and then being beaten by Real Madrid in Paris on a difficult night on a number of levels for the club.
However, Robertson’s anguish was then compounded by Scotland being convincingly beaten by Ukraine at Hampden to ensure that they would not be going to Qatar this winter. Could that have an impact on him this season? We will have to wait and see, but one thing is for certain, Tsimikas will be ready for any let up in form.
Season ahead is set to be a squad game
Klopp, not one to hide his feelings over elite football’s quite frankly ridiculous schedule, is unlikely to be any happier this season due to both the World Cup being held when it is and also the internationals that are being held in September.
The strain on an enormous number of Liverpool’s squad this season is something that is likely never to have been seen before. Indeed, they will be playing again eight days after the end of the World Cup, having played a week before the start.
With the advent of five substitutions, something Klopp has campaigned incessantly for since it was introduced as a Covid measure during Project Restart, is likely to see more players given opportunities.
Harvey Elliot and Fabio Carvalho, who were both introduced during the second half and both grabbed assists, could be beneficiaries of the packed schedule this year.
Fabio Carvalho combined to set up his new teammate and looked sharp against Leipzig