Liverpool FC pre-season: a short guide to Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart – Liverpool FC
Liverpool start their preseason on Tuesday with two 30-minute friendlies against FC Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart, which offer interesting and varied opposition.
The Reds’ first two preseason games both fall on the same day, with Jurgen Klopp set to field the majority of his 32 fit and available players on a pair of 30-minute friendlies.
Played behind closed doors, the matches will give Klopp a first glimpse into his squad’s form after a long summer break.
With Mainz and Hertha Berlin coming later in the pre-season, ahead of two Anfield clashes with Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna, there is an opportunity for Liverpool to gradually ramp up in intensity over the coming weeks.
So who are Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart, and what can the Reds expect?
FC Wacker Innsbruck
Director: Daniel Bierofka
League: 2.Austrian Liga
Arrival 2020/21: 4th
Formed in 2002 from the ashes of FC Tirol Innsbruck and the first FC Wacker Innsbruck, the Austrian opposition Liverpool is based a two hour drive from Saalfelden training base.
Their manager, Daniel Bierofka, is a former Bundesliga winger who played with 1860 Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and Stuttgart, before becoming a coach with 1860.
Despite currently playing in 2.Liga, Wacker Innsbruck spent a season in Austria’s top flight in 2018/19, suffering relegation after finishing last in the standings.
Wacker Innsbruck’s season has already started, preparing for their 30-minute clash with Liverpool by beating SVG Reichenau 8-0 in the Austrian Cup first round.
There is no familiar face in the Wacker Innsbruck squad, but striker Ronivaldo scored 13 goals in 32 games last season and is probably one of their biggest threats.
Midfielder Marco Holz and winger Joao Luiz both scored double in the victory over SVG Reichenau.
Link with Liverpool?
In a series of four consecutive Austrian Bundesliga seasons from 2010/11 to 2013/14, Wacker Innsbruck found a steady bane in Sadio Mane.
Mane, who made a name for himself at Red Bull Salzburg, has scored four goals and had two assists in seven games, winning five games and drawing the other two.
Naby Keita also faced Wacker Innsbruck while playing for Salzburg in the Austrian Cup in 2014, while Takumi Minamino scored Munas Dabbur’s first goal in a 2-0 victory at Tivoli-Neu in 2019. .
Director: Pellegrino Matarazzo
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Arena
Arrival 2020/21: 9th
A more immediately recognizable name, Stuttgart offer an improvement in the quality of the opposition for the second of Liverpool’s 30-minute friendlies.
Returning to the Bundesliga after a season of absence, Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side finished ninth in the German top flight last season, ahead of Mainz and Hertha Berlin, whom the Reds will also face on tour.
Liverpool have played for Stuttgart twice in their history, but never in a competitive game, with their last meeting coming in the pre-season last year.
Klopp’s side won 3-0 that day at Saalfelden, with Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita and Rhian Brewster scoring the goals, bringing the score to 1-1 between the clubs after a friendly 3-2 victory for Stuttgart in 1980.
Stuttgart have already made a slew of new signings, including goalkeeper Florian Muller, winger Chris Fuhrich and midfielder Naouirou Ahamada, though their key players will likely remain the same this time around.
Matarazzo can rely on a strong defensive core made up of center-backs Marc Oliver Kempf and Waldemar Anton and defensive midfielder Wataru Endo, while young striker Sasa Kalajdzic will be their main source of goals.
Link with Liverpool?
There is a strong connection between Liverpool and Stuttgart due to the relationship of Klopp – a childhood supporter of the German club – sporting director Sven Mislintat.
Mislintat worked as a chief scout at Borussia Dortmund during Klopp’s tenure as manager, and it was through their connection that the loan deal for Nat Phillips was negotiated in 2019.
Phillips spent the 2019/20 campaign in Baden-Württemberg and is one of seven players to feature for both clubs, including Markus Babbel and Sean Dundee, both of whom were sold to Stuttgart.