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Hertha Berlin 4, Liverpool 3 - Match Recap: Virgil van Dijk Returns!

It wasn’t the sweetest of returns, but it’s only preseason.

Hertha BSC v FC Liverpool - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Hertha Berlin 4 - 3 Liverpool FC

Hertha Berlin: Ascacibar 21’, Serdar 31’, Jovetic 65’, 79’
Liverpool: Mané 37’, Minamino 41’, Oxlade-Chamberlain 88’

Pre-Match

Liverpool start the match with a relatively strong line-up, although none of Takumi Minamino, Harvey Elliott, and Kostas Tsimikas will not be likely to start on opening day. The biggest notable miss is Virgil van Dijk, but obviously caution is key in getting the world’s best defender back up to speed. The same can be said about Van Dijk’s center back partner, Joe Gomez. Andy Robertson, Curtis Jones, Diego Jota, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also miss out on the start, but seem likely to play a role later.

Preseason is always an exciting time of year, and Hertha Berlin represent the toughest challenge for the Reds so far!

First Half

The opening stages are fairly uneventful; neither side can really establish a rhythm. One worrying early trend is Naby Keita giving the ball away cheaply in dangerous positions, multiple times.

I know it’s easy to get carried away with Harvey Elliott hype, but the kid is looking legitimately phenomenal out there. His close control in tight spaces is very impressive, as is his quick thinking and ability to pick out a pass.

Goal. Hertha draw first blood, scoring from a free kick, sent in from a wide area. It was a dangerous ball in, but no one defending the kick covered themselves in glory. The goal scorer, Santiago Ascacibar, appears to have picked up a nasty concussion in the process. Mates, it’s just preseason.

Goal. If the first goal had a touch of luck about it, this one was an absolute cracking goal. Hertha work it around the box, finding a bit of space on the right hand side, courtesy of Konaté getting sucked out of position into no-man’s land. Still, it’s not a great chance, and from a super tight angle, but the Berlin striker hammers it across the face of goal, into the far corner.

GOAL! It’s sloppy, and it might have been VAR’d away for handball in the Premier League, but it counts today! Tsimikas picks up the ball in a wide area, drives into the box, and cuts it back for Sadio Mané. Mané has a sloppy first touch/shot, which bounces off and might have just brushed up against his hand, but then puts the second effort away.

GOAL! Liverpool equalize with a fantastic counter attacking goal! Keita wins the ball high, and immediately pops it off to Mohamed Salah who is sprinting wide open into the box. The initial pass is a bit deep, but Mo simply backheels it directly into Minamino’s path, and the Japanese international puts it away.

Second Half

Adrian, Robertson, Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Curt Jones all come on to start the half, replacing the goalkeeper, three of the back four, Elliott, and Minamino. And Ox takes the chance to get a shot off within about 15 seconds of restart.

Trent and Sadio nearly combine to give Liverpool their first lead of the night, but Mané’s well-placed and well-struck header is well-saved by the Hertha keeper. Unlucky!

With an hour gone, Liverpool make five more changes: Diogo Jota, Nico Williams, Leighton Clarkson, Tyler Morton, and Kaide Gordon all come on for the rest of the remaining starters. And Gordon nearly scores a moment later! Into these, baby Reds!

Goal. Liverpool have had a pretty dominant second half, but Phillips uncharacteristically mistimes his jump to clear a cross, leaving the attacker with an easy finish from close range.

The moment we’ve all been waiting for: Van Dijk and Joe Gomez return! They come on for Phillips and Williams, who very well might have seen their last action for Liverpool, both individually and—Fowler willing—as a pairing.

Goal. Could’ve done without that last one. Gordon loses the ball in midfield, allowing Hertha to run directly at Liverpool’s defense and Van Dijk. Virg seems to have the situation under control, just as he used to so often, but slips, allowing the attacker to create a yard of space, get the shot away, and score. Virg might be back physically, but it might be a while before he fully trusts his body again.

GOAL! Ox pulls one back! Van Dijk wins a header in the box off a corner, trying to pick out Diogo Jota. However, the goalkeeper palms it away, but only as far as Oxlade-Chamberlain, who hammers it home. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve missed Virg on set pieces!

Final Thoughts

It’s preseason, so really the performances are more important than the result. And there were quite a few good performances out there. Elliott continues to impress, Mané is back in the goals, Salah is as much of a menace as always, and Trent looks hungry. And it’s no small thing getting Van Dijk and Gomez back on the pitch, even if Virg didn’t look great for the last Hertha Berlin goal.