Hertha Berlin 0
Liverpool 3 Solanke 15’, Wijnaldum 38’, Salah 61’
Philippe Coutinho as captain.
I woke up to that news. While I went about my business getting set up to watch and write about this game— letting my laptop warm up, sorting out the stream, making coffee— those four words kept knocking about in my head.
Philippe. Coutinho. As. Captain.
What a time to be alive.
But this is still preseason, and in tune-up mode fans generally have two concerns.
One, how the new players and kids getting on.
And Two, that no one gets injured.
We got a bit of a scare with the second one right at kickoff. Divock Origi was a late scratch, replaced by Dominic Solanke. Glad to see the new kid get some minutes but I’m pretty much going to be a nervous wreck about Origi for the rest of the day. So that’s cool.
Anywho, the Reds got off to a pretty strong start. A little slow in the very beginning but Liverpool grew more confident as the minutes ticked on. A nice bit of play between Alberto Moreno and Emre Can out wide early on gave a fun little jolt. (I’d usually suggest a preview of what’s to come, but Moreno still seems to be on his way out.)
Liverpool didn’t have to spend too much time beating their heads against the (Berlin) wall. In the 15th minute, Adam Lallana lifted the ball into the box, where it was greeted by Solanke. The new fish headed the ball into that all-too-thin space underneath the crossbar but outside the reach of the keeper. 1-0 to the Reds.
The next 20 minutes or so were a reversion to mean. Both sides played as they had started— energetic but without a sharp edge. The goal hadn’t really changed the game state. Berlin didn’t get a jolt of urgency, Liverpool didn’t have any particular swagger. Maybe that’s just a peculiarity of friendlies.
Late in the second half, Berlin came close to leveling the score with a powerful free kick that flew just over the bar. Because of the camera angle and the way the ball sat on the outside of the net, it looked like it went in for a second or two. Damn near had a heart attack. (Yes, I know it’s preseason. Don’t @ me.)
But then moments later, Georginio Wijnaldum hit a low shot in the box and and stayed on the right side of the post. 2-0.
Both teams seemed content to ride out the rest of the half as is, knowing full swaps were imminent.
It wasn’t a completely new XI for Liverpool in the second half, but it did feature a new front three— Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Daniel Sturridge. I’ll admit, I was excited for this particular set-up.
The second half also got off to a slow start, although it didn’t take quite as long to ramp up as the first half. Six minutes in, a low ball across the face of goal nearly turned into a third goal. Alas, Salah was just milliseconds too late to tap it in at the far post.
Salah didn’t have to wait too long for redemption. Just after the hour mark, he... you know what, I don’t even really have the words for it. He did this.
He’s on my team and even I was all, oh come on!
The season hasn’t even started yet and I already want him to never ever leave.
For the most part, the game ended here. Liverpool controlled the game through the last half hour, and had a couple decent chances, but their predatory instincts had subsided. Berlin swapped out much of their team and the aim at that point seemed to be about giving as many squad members a run out as possible. And by the time the 80th minute rolled around, Liverpool were content to play keep-away. 3-0 was good enough.
Mexican Waves started roiling throughout the Olympiastadion. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” started a few minutes early, roundabout the 85th. Even the fans knew it was basically over.
The official blew the whistle right on 90’. Berlin didn’t seem too disappointed. Liverpool didn’t seem overly joyous.
Preseason, you know?
We still need to hear what’s going on with Origi, but otherwise this was a solid day out. Everyone looked good. No obvious mistakes or shortcomings. Solanke was great. Salah was sublime.
Lots of good takeaways from this game. But I’m at the point in preseason where these early looks aren’t enough for me. I need the actual season to start soon. August 12th seems like ages away.