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Liverpool come into this gala friendly at The Aviva Stadium unbeaten in an extensive pre-season so far. The annual pre-season tournaments that now take place all over the world for Europe’s biggest clubs saw Liverpool travel to Asia and then Germany where they saw off Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Bayern Munich.
Liverpool’s off-season so far has seen a total of 10 first team ins and outs. Mohammed Salah arriving from AS Roma for 42 million euros being the biggest arrival. Lucas was arguably the biggest departure being the only player to still be at the club from Rafael Benitez’s tenure. Lucas left for Lazio having made 247 appearances for the Reds.
Dominic Solanke has been brought in from title-chasing rivals Chelsea to bolster Jurgen Klopp’s attack. Critics of Chelsea’s transfer policy will watch with interest as Klopp tries to get the best of one of England’s alleged hottest prospects.
Athletic Club started their pre-season way back on 3rd July in preparation for their Europa League qualifiers. On Thursday night they saw off Dynamo Bucharest 4-1 on aggregate and will face Panathinaikos in the final play-off round.
José Angel Ziganda is the new manager at the helm at San Mames. He replaced the revered Ernesto Valverde who departed for FC Barcelona in the summer. Ziganda will already know his squad well – only three of Los Leones’ current squad arrived at the club as a senior player.
Ziganda told the press at the post-match conference last night that “the match against Liverpool is extremely valuable to play. It’s a true test and I’m very excited about it.”
Ziganda, like his counterpart for this fixture, has a tough challenge this season. Athletic Club nearly missed out on Europa League qualification to their two closests rivals – Alavés and Real Sociedad – only to be saved by Barcelona’s rousing in the second half of the Copa del Rey final.
A lot of pressure will rest of Aritz Aduriz to provide the goals again this term and many will hope young starlet Iñaki Williams can hit the ground running this time out. The one to watch for pure entertainment though will be Raúl García from high in midfield.
Athletic Club Squad for the game: Arrizabalaga, Boveda, Saborit, San Jose, Benat, Kike Sola, Williams, Villalibre, Iago Herrerin, I.Lekue, X.Etxeita, Mikel Rico, De Marcos, Sabin Merino, Vesga, Aketxe, Balenziaga, Cordoba, Nunez.
Athletic Club and Liverpool have met twice before, over two-legged ties in European competition, in the Fairs Cup in 1968 and in the European Cup in 1983. Liverpool ran out winners both times.
Liverpool 5/6 Athletic Club 11/4 Draw 23/10