‘A severe challenge’: Talking points from Liverpool’s pre-season defeat to Sevilla in Boston

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By Harry Ewbank – @HreEwbank

A 2-1 defeat to Spanish side Sevilla was far from the main concern for the reds at the final whistle, in what was a heated game rather than purely a fitness test.

Many of the squads Champions League stars are slowly returning to the frame after a summer of international duty for most – Virgil van Dijk being the latest to return in Saturday’s encounter.

Instead of a fitness test the game would prove to be a test of the teams resolve and composure, as Sevilla’s approach to proceedings was far from friendly.

Tough challenges and an untidy game would follow in front of a keen American following.

Virgil returns

In the last few weeks the centre-back colossus van Dijk has again returned to the headlines.

The Dutch international has now overtaken Lionel Messi as favourite for the yearly Ballon d’Or award, an accolade which would further enhance van Dijk’s reputation as one of the world’s best.

He is, however, a proud and grounded man whose focus is success for his team, and after the Champions League triumph he came so close to winning the Nations League with the Netherlands in June.

Despite many defensive frailties showing from the back line during the game it won’t be too much cause for concern.

Sevilla ended up with heaps of chances from headers though most will just be glad to see the talisman returning with the season just over two weeks away.

Lonergan continues to impress

The invitation extended to goalkeeper Andy Lonergan was dubbed a strange one by most. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old stopper has gained many admirers for his commendable effort during pre-season.

The free agent has been brought in as ‘keeper cover for Simon Mignolet while Alisson Becker is still yet to return from his holidays.

Yet despite being brought into the fold simply to make up the numbers, Lonergan impressed with his attitude and approach, as well as making an impact in his 45-minute run out at Fenway Park.

A number of neat saves have certainly heightened some calls for the veteran to be kept on the books as an able backup.

Hot streak in Boston

On the hottest day in Boston since 1991 tempers certainly flared.

Much to Jurgen Klopp’s annoyance, Sevilla were forceful and appeared dangerous in their approach. It did, however, make an intriguing encounter where there was no surprise when the Spaniards saw red.

After coming on as a substitute, defender Joris Gnagnon took foul play into his own hands – a seemingly unprovoked leg swipe at youngster Yasser Larouci.

Liverpool’s left-back had impressed in the Dortmund game, keeping the vibrant Jadon Sancho quiet. To leave Fenway Park on crutches was a cruel blow for the youngster.

Furthermore, the injury list is continually growing with the season not far away and we are yet to see whether any further reinforcements will be signed.

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