Liverpool showed just how useful their work has been in Jurgen Klopp’s first summer as manager with a ruthless 4-0 victory over European giants Barcelona in the International Champions Cup at Wembley on Saturday.
The Merseyside outfit were absolutely rampant in the capital as all of their goals came from pressing Luis Enrique’s side — featuring Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez — into submission of the ball, which allowed for Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Marko Grujic to get their names on the scoresheet, as well as forcing ex-Red Javier Mascherano to put into his own net.
Daniel Sturridge missed the game as a precaution with a slight issue with his hip, but Klopp — as he has done regularly throughout the summer — used Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho as a front three.
The affair started at a frantic pace for a preseason workout. Liverpool came out of the blocks fastest, not giving their Spanish opponents any time on the ball in threatening areas.
The Reds’ quick start was rewarded 15 minutes in after good work from Adam Lallana. The England international, playing slightly deeper than usual, pinched possession off the Catalans and launched an incisive counterattack before Firmino played in Mane to slot home.
However, all of their good play could have been undone as Messi went agonisingly close a short while later.
But Liverpool made three changes at the break and two of their substitutes had an instant impact. First, pressure from Henderson led to Mascherano’s own goal just seconds after the restart, before Origi brushed off Jeremy Mathieu to clinically finish and make it 3-0.
Fellow sub Grujic added a fourth in the dying seconds with a fine looping header, leaving Wembley — hosting its second-largest ever crowd of 89,845 and mostly made up of Liverpool supporters — in full admiration at what they had just witnessed.
The Reds next travel to Germany to face Klopp’s former team, Mainz, on Sunday to conclude their summer schedule and before their Premier League opener away at Arsenal full of confidence on the back of this display.
Barcelona needed to win by at least four goals to win the ICC trophy, which instead goes to PSG, who won all three of their games in the competition the summer.
The Spanish Super Cup is next for Luis Enrique’s side, starting with the first leg at Sevilla on Aug. 14.