Photo Credit: Sky
Liverpool will go head to head against Athletic Bilbao in a friendly match on August 5 at Ireland’s Aviva Stadium.
Liverpool had an impressive win against a reinforced Bayern Munich in the Audi Cup. However, the Reds lost their last match against Atletico Madrid in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in the same cup at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany.
While Athletic Bilbao had a 1-1 draw against Dinamo Bucuresti in the first leg of UEFA Europa League. However, Los Leones won the second leg with a score of 3-0, giving them a 4-1 aggregate score at National Arena, Bucharest.
Liverpool Starting XI (4-2-3-1)
FW: Roberto Firmino
MF: Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Sado Mane, Georgino Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah
DF: James Milner, Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip, Nathaniel Clyne
GK: Simon Mignolet
Athletic Bilbao Starting XI (4-2-3-1)
FW: Aritz Aduriz
MF: Beñat Etxebarria, Mikel San Jose, Raul Garcia, Iñaki Williams, Iker Muniain
DF: Mikel Balenziaga, Aymeric Laporte, Xabier Etxeita, Oscar de Marcos
GK: Iago Herrerin
Liverpool FC’s Flexibility
Manager Jürgen Klopp has relied on a 4-3-3 formation to bring out their best defense while retaining a balanced offensive lineup. However, center backs Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho, and attacking midfielders Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho’s absences due to their injuries would certainly hurt their lineup. So, Klavan, Can, and Wijnaldum should start for their upcoming game with those four out.
There are also transfer rumors on Coutinho; Barcelona is interested in this midfielder as a replacement for Neymar. However, Klopp doesn’t seem to be interested in handing over the Brazilian footballer anytime soon.
As for former Roma winger Mohamed Salah’s arrival, it has made Klopp unsure of how his formation would look like for the season. “Tactically-wise, getting more flexible – depending who is there and when – and introducing different systems,” said Klopp. So, he might experiment again with a fast paced 4-2-3-1 formation while maintaining the flexible identity of the Reds to make good use of Salah in their offense against Athletic Bilbao.
Athletic Bilbao’s Fast-paced Play
Manager Jose Angel Ziganda has recently been appointed as the new Athletic Bilbao manager. He replaced Ernesto Valverde, who recently became Barcelona’s new manager. Ziganda uses a 4-2-3-1 formation with a quick-paced playing style. In his system, players make long lob passes and use the wide spaces their wingers create for them. The fast pace also allows them to have a seamless transition to defense as well.
Their starting center back, Yeray Alvarez, is currently suffering from testicular cancer. He’s expected to return this September 13 but his prolonged absence has prompted Los Leones to target Virgil van Dijk from Southampton. So, the lack of Alvarez in their lineup might have a significant effect in Athletic Bilbao’s defensive line.
Both teams boast a good defense but if Liverpool’s 4-2-3-1 formation could maximize their offense with the addition of Salah, then we might see them win despite most of their starters missing. If Los Leones could capitalize on the Reds’ weakened starting XI, then we might see a win for the Spanish side. However, the Spanish side might still have some difficulty in toppling the Reds.
Outcome: Liverpool FC 1-1 Athletic Bilbao