Olympiacos 0-1 Liverpool: What Brendan Rodgers Learned
Having lost their opening game of their pre-season tour of the USA to Roma Wednesday night, it was important that Liverpool responded—at least in result, if not performance.
Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge all made their first appearances of the summer following their World Cup campaign with England, whilst Serbian international forward Lazar Markovic made his debut.
More of a fitness exercise than anything else, here we look at some of the key points Rodgers will take from the game just three weeks before the start of the new Premier League season.
There's a New "SAS" in Town
Liverpool are reshaping for life after Luis Suarez, but first-half indications against Olympiacos showed that "SAS" may now stand for Sturridge and Sterling.
The pair combined well for the only goal of the game—Sturridge slipping the ball through to Sterling, who finished instinctively from close range and under pressure.
The Reds are overwhelmed with attacking options this year following the signings of Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic and Rickie Lambert, but Rodgers will look to Sturridge and Sterling to lead the ammunition up front.
Dynamic Lazar Markovic Could Prove Very Shrewd Signing
After a quiet start to the game, 20-year-old Lazar Markovic began to look very useful as the first half went on.
He was involved in three of Liverpool's attacks, including one that culminated in him making space for himself inside the penalty area but lofting his shot over.
His touch was good, his awareness of teammates was intelligent and, perhaps most relevant to the way Liverpool played last season, he showed a pace to his game to sweep the ball forward from midfield at ease.
A good, solid start to his Liverpool career for the former Benfica star.
Take Pre-Season Games with a Pinch of Salt
All in all, a pre-season friendly is a glorified training session, and Liverpool's choice to go on tour in the USA was dictated by commercial reasons over and above football.
Rodgers used the game against Olympiacos to give most of his World Cup players their first run out of the summer, and he got a game of moderate tempo and a competitive nature to do so in.
If that was the objective of the day, then Rodgers led his side successfully through it and with no injury casualties.
Steven Gerrard looked composed, if not quiet, until he was taken off just after the hour mark, whilst Glen Johnson looked eager to impress enough to keep his place in the team for the foreseeable future, with the transfer window open for just longer than another month.
Late flourishes by Jordon Ibe built more excitement around the youngster, whilst Lucas Leiva's late yellow card for a rash challenge was clumsy.
There's Space for More Signings
The friendly gave Brendan Rodgers the opportunity to test out more members of his squad. But with an increase in matches in the forthcoming season, he may still feel underpowered to mount challenges in both the Premier League and Champions League.
The signing of £20 million defender Dejan Lovren from Southampton was confirmed prior to the game Sunday night, per Ben Smith of BBC Sport, though the £8.5 million move for Loic Remy had fallen through earlier in the day, per Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph.
At times, Liverpool were sluggish going forward and lacked creativity. Rodgers may see the early glimpses of his side this pre-season as further evidence to bulk up his squad.