Preview: Liverpool v Athletic Bilbao
Sports Mole provides an overview of Sunday’s pre-season friendlies between Liverpool and Athletic Bilbao, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
LiverpoolThe penultimate game of the preseason period will take place at Anfield on Sunday afternoon, as Athletics Bilbao visit Merseyside for a friendly clash.
Jürgen KloppAthletic’s side sank Bologna in two respective hour-long friendlies on Thursday, while Athletic face Southampton on Saturday 24 hours before traveling to Merseyside.
With a mix of first-teams, youth products and fringe players each given the chance to impress in two 60-minute friendlies against Bologna, Klopp has plenty to think about for the new campaign after a pair of 2- wins. 0 and 1-0 in France.
The 3 p.m. kick-off saw Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane put the Reds on two goals before the 15-minute mark in a comfortable 2-0 win, and two hours later a new-look Liverpool side also scored a 14th-minute goal thanks to Takumi minamino before Divock Origin failed to convert 12 meters.
Klopp had only positive things to say about his side’s performance as they quickly recovered from an action-packed 4-3 loss to Hertha Berlin, and the Reds boss quickly turned his attention to on the weekend, where he expects the “greatest atmosphere” at Anfield in the past 18 months.
Everything has been relatively calm on the transfer front at Liverpool, but Klopp has a plethora of disgraced players looking for two final opportunities to impress, as the Reds end their preseason against Osasuna the day after their battle with Athletic.
As they step onto the Anfield turf, Athletic Bilbao have reportedly been either backed by a confidence-building success against Southampton or trying to recover from a cushioning result at St Mary’s.
As is the case in Liverpool, MarcelinoThe Men of the Season also end their preseason with two friendlies in the space of two days, and it’s been a mixed record for the Copa del Rey finalist so far in terms of results.
Between the defeats against St. Gallen and Union Berlin, there were relentless successes against Dynamo Kiev and Borussia Dortmund, and with Barcelona on the lookout for Athletic in the new matchweek two. La Liga season, a positive end to their preseason campaign is a must.
Athletic can look forward to a friendlier game against Elche, however, to kick off their La Liga campaign on August 16, and Marcelino’s side will strive to make their trip to England a memorable one to end a period of pre -season upside down.
Liverpool pre-season friendlies form:
Athletic Bilbao pre-season friendlies form:
Liverpool may not play two games in the span of an hour this weekend, but the 24-hour gap between games means Klopp is sure to split his squad in half once again.
It’s impossible to predict which XI will perform against Athletic, but Klopp has confirmed that Jordan henderson is more likely to win a few minutes in Osasuna’s match, while Virgil van Dijk and Joe gomez both enjoyed precious playing time against Bologna.
However, Thiago Alcantara was not available for either friendly with the Serie A squad due to a minor injury, and the Spaniard is expected to return to full training next week.
Likewise, Athletic will also split their squad into two different squads with Saturday’s friendly against Southampton also on the agenda, and they will remain without Unai simon as he seeks to win the gold medal with Spain at the Olympics.
Iker Muniain and Yeray Alvarez both struggled with the discomfort to make themselves available, while Inigo Martinez and Alex petxarroman were also pictured during an open training session with fans in attendance.
Inaki williams – formerly linked to Liverpool – is also expected to be part of the travel party, while Yuri Berchiche continues the long road to recovery after surgery.
Liverpool and Athletic Bilbao have faced each other in competition four times over the years, the most recent of which was in the last 16 of the 1983-84 European Cup, where a Ian rush the winner saw Liverpool advance in aggregate after a goalless draw in the first leg.
The two clubs met for the first time in the 1968-69 Interurban Fair Cup and could not be separated after a 3-3 draw in two matches, which allowed the Spanish team to progress by drawing lots.
Klopp also oversaw a friendly 3-1 victory for the Reds over Athletic as recently as 2017, in which Roberto Firmino, Ben woodburn and Dominique solanke found the net.
We say: Liverpool 2-1 Athletic Bilbao
With both managers planning how best to navigate their teams through two games in quick succession, it would take a brave soul to confidently predict the outcome of this affair.
However, both Reds’ sides looked strong against Bologna and see some integral cogs continuing to strengthen their match-ability, so we still expect Liverpool to win by the narrowest margin.