Liverpool had their first game in the International Champions Cup on July 27 and won against a tough Olympiacos team 1-0. Raheem Sterling, the young English International, got the goal in the fifth minute and the Reds were able to hang on and secure three hard fought points against the Greek champions. The game was played in Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois in front of a crowd of 36,000 plus. Both teams put out strong squads for the game, so the fans were rewarded with seeing some star players, even though there was not a lot of scoring.
The Olympiacos manager said before the match that he was looking at these three International Champions Cup matches not just as preseason friendlies, but also as a chance to play against top European competition that the Greek side could face in UEFA Champions League in later months. Olympiacos already had one win under their belt before heading into the match on Sunday. They defeated A.C. Milan 3-0 on July 24 with three great counterattacking goals.
Liverpool will be happy with their first win of the preseason tournament, but would have liked to score a few more, especially with such a strong lineup at their disposal. Brendan Rogers, the Liverpool manager, fielded a very experienced lineup with regulars Steven Garrard, Glen Johnson, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, and Martin Skrtel all beginning the match. Two others, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic, both new signings, also began the game in the starting-eleven.
Raheem Sterling’s goal came as Steven Gerrard took advantage of an Olympiacos mistake. The lifetime Liverpool midfielder picked up the ball just inside of the Olympiacos half after a deflected clearance by the Greeks. He then split two defenders with a perfect pass to Daniel Sterling. The young England International turned up field and looked to fire a shot at goal, but appeared to slip. The ball deflected straight into the path of Raheem Sterling, who had run into the box looking for a rebound. Sterling took the ball in stride though, and finished with the inside of his right foot on a half volley. It was an example of a player being in the right place at the right time and having an eye for the goal.
Brendan Rogers was pleased with his Liverpool side’s 1-0 win over Olympiacos in their first game of the International Champions Cup, saying that “the passing was crisp and precise.” He hopes that as preseason goes on, his side will become sharper with their movements, but for now, he is happy that everyone is getting both increased fitness and minutes under their belt.
Manchester City leads Group B by a plus-four goal difference. They beat A.C. Milan 5-1 on July 27. Liverpool and Olympiacos both have three points as well, but only have plus-one and plus-two goal differences respectively, with the Greek side playing an extra game. A.C. Milan has also played two games, but has a minus-seven goal difference and is therefore bottom of the table. Liverpool and Manchester City will make up their game in-hand on July 30 in Yankee Stadium. Liverpool will be hoping to keep a shutout again, like they did in their 1-0 win over Olympiacos in the Reds’ first game of the International Champions Cup.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash