Make no mistake; this was never going to be an easy game for Liverpool. Brondby are one of Denmark’s better teams - they will be competing in Europe this season - and this was their final warm-up game before their league campaign starts this weekend.
Meanwhile, it was Liverpool’s first game of pre-season, the majority of their high-profile stars were still to return from the World Cup and new signings Emre Can and Lazar Markovic were as yet not ready to participate in a full match for their new club.
Brendan Rodgers, therefore, was forced to field a side with a mixture of youth and experience to play the Danish club, giving a number of unfamiliar names the chance to impress.
Three returning loanees in Fabio Borini, Tiago Lllori and Suso were featured in the side, along with relative unknowns Joao Carlos Teixeira, Brad Smith and 17-year-old Jordan Rossiter.Phillippe Coutinho, Daniel Agger, Lucas Leiva, Brad Jones and Martin Kelly made up the more experienced spine of the squad.
Llori was forced off through injury early on and was replaced by new arrival Kevin Stewart, who was unfortunate in failing to clear a cross that led to Brondby’s first goal of the match, finished well by Christian Norgaard in the 24th minute.
Liverpool's impressive attack
Unsurprisingly, it was Liverpool’s attack that caught the eye, even though they were missing the majority of their better players. Coutinho looked the classiest player on the pitch by a considerable distance, shouldering the majority of the team’s attacking impetus and controlling the play superbly in the opposition half. There were, however, other positive points amongst Liverpool’s attacking play.
Suso looked stronger than he ever has before and showed better decision making on the ball than he perhaps had in his debut season at Liverpool. If he continues his progression, he may well feature in Brendan Rodgers’ plans next season.
Borini, despite his touch looking slightly rusty, showed excellent movement and instinct throughout and was making the sort of runs that proved so effective in helping keep Sunderland up at the end of last season.
The other attacking players, Teixeira and Rossiter, looked slightly lightweight and were too often lost in the midfield battle, but they are the most inexperienced of all the young attackers so this was perhaps to be expected. There were some encouraging signs too from young Brad Smith at left-back, particularly going forward, but he was too often guilty of losing his man in defence and failing to provide a quality final ball when he did get possession in the opposition area.
Kelly, who was once thought to be Liverpool’s future in defence for the next decade or so, has not looked quite the same since a ligament injury kept him out for over a year, and he was perhaps the player most in need of a good match here to prove to Rodgers that he still has what it takes to fill a hole that will be left be Glen Johnson’s eventual departure.
He showed some promise in the early minutes, ably supporting Suso down the right flank, before he was forced to switch to centre-back by Llori’s injury. Here he was solid if not spectacular, but this performance will have done him no harm in Rodgers’ eyes.
The second half saw a number of changes, as you would expect in the first game of pre-season. Almost immediately this had an effect as Jordon Ibe, who this week said he wishes to emulate Raheem Sterling in breaking into the team this season, left the Brondby team standing to put in Swedish under-21 international Kristoffer Peterson for Liverpool’s equaliser.
Ibe quickly became the focal point of Liverpool’s attack and was one of the real bright spots of this performance. He was still, however, guilty of profligacy in front of goal as he missed a one-on-one against the Brondby ‘keeper in the 80th minute.
Kristian Adorjan was perhaps the only other player that looked like he might have a chance of playing a part in the Liverpool squad this season outside of the usual suspects, and the second half passed largely without incident until Brondby's excellent 91st minute winning goal.
Liverpool were, of course, not at their best, lacking key players and fitness against a tricky opponent.
Ultimately however, there were several bright spots amongst this young side, particularly in the attacking department, as Borini, Ibe and Suso in particular showed that they are ready to fight for a place in Liverpool’s starting 11 next season.
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