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The Reds kick-off their preparations for the next season from July 13. Goal’s Dhvanil Gagvani has a look at their 7 pre-season friendlies.

The summer of 2012 marked the start of a new era at Anfield as a fresh faced Brendan Rodgers had taken over the helm as the club's new manager, replacing Kenny Dalglish. With the emphasis on positive, attacking football, the squad is developing well. Liverpool delivered an improved season but still fell short of their top-four ambitions.

Seventh place is not great for a club of their size, but in what was always going to be a transitional year for the club, it was just important that Rodgers was given time. They will however be expected to do much better this time around and a good pre-season is just what they need to hit the ground running.

Back to work since July 2nd


Liverpool began their pre-season training last Tuesday and were joined by four new signings in Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Simon Mignolet.

The Reds kick-off their pre-season against League One side Preston North End, before heading to Asia and Australia a week later. They then play friendlies closer to home in Norway and Ireland, with Steven Gerrard‘s testimonial placed after their tour to Thailand.


Pre-Season Friendlies



I.
Preston North End vs Liverpool F.C.
Date: 13 July, 2013

Venue: Deepdale, Preston

Kick Off: 15:00 BST
              19:30 IST


Liverpool will begin their pre-season programme with a friendly against Preston, who they last met in an FA Cup tie in 2009. The match is played in memory of Bill Shankly to mark his 100th birthday. The Scot spent sixteen years of his playing career as a Lilywhites player before taking over as Reds boss.

About the opposition:

Preston North End is an English professional association football club located in the Deepdale area of the city of Preston, Lancashire. They currently play in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.

Preston North End were founding members of the English Football League in 1888 and the first league champions, achieving the English football "Double" in the same season by winning the FA Cup without conceding a goal.



II.
Indonesia XI vs Liverpool F.C.
Date: 20 July, 2013

Venue: Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta

Kick Off: 14:30 BST
              19:00 IST


A week later, Liverpool will play in Indonesia which happens to have their largest fan-base in the world. Coincidentally, Brendan Rodgers will be the first Reds manager to take the club to the Southeast Asian country.

About the opposition:

The Indonesia national football team is controlled by the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) and is a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The team's only Olympic appearance was in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia, where they held the Soviet Union, the eventual gold medalists, to a draw, but lost 0–4 in the replay. The Indonesian team qualified for the AFC Asian Cup on four occasions, but have never progressed beyond the group stage.



III.
Melbourne Victory vs Liverpool F.C.
Date: 24 July, 2013

Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria

Kick Off: 11:00 BST
              15:30 IST


Liverpool already have a large fan base in Australia, partly due to its previous Aussie connections of Harry Kewell and Craig Johnston. There is an Australian featuring on the current Reds squad list as well in goalkeeper Brad Jones.

About the opposition:

Melbourne Victory is an Australian professional association football club that plays in the A-League and is considered to be the biggest professional football club in Australia.

They finished the 2012-2013 season in third place and and lost to Central Coast Mariners in the final series semi-final. However, they might yet contest in the 2014 Asian Champions League if Australia is given 2.5 slots based on the 2013 AFC Champions League evaluation.

Former Liverpool winger Harry Kewell enjoyed a good two-year spell at the Victory, scoring eight league goals in 25 games.

IV.

IV.
Thailand vs Liverpool F.C.
Date: 28 July, 2013

Venue: Rajamangala National Stadium, Bangkok   

Kick Off: 11:45 BST
              16:15  IST


Thailand hosted Liverpool’s first-ever Asian tour back in 2001 where they were greeted by throngs of cheering fans. The team received a great reception back then and will be looking forward to the same this time around.

About the opposition:

The team has a history of success in Southeast Asian competitions, with three ASEAN Football Championship titles and nine senior-level Southeast Asian Games titles. In the FIFA World Rankings, Thailand's highest standing was in the first release of the figures, in September 1998, at 43rd (currently ranked 138). Former legendary Thai striker and current head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang who scored an amazing tally of 551 goals from 339 games will surely gear up his players to give the Reds a tough fight.



V.
Olympiacos vs Liverpool F.C.
Date: 03 August, 2013

Venue: Anfield, Liverpool   

Kick Off: 14:00 BST
              18:30 IST


This match will be a tribute to Steven Gerrard and his years of service to the club. All proceeds from the match will go to The Steven Gerrard Foundation, a charity for disadvantaged youngsters. Meanwhile, Olympiakos have opted to donate their appearance fee to local Greek charities.

The match against the Greek giants, who Gerrard dramatically netted against in the knockout stages of Liverpool's triumphant 2004-05 Champions League campaign, will be their only pre-season game on home soil.

About the opposition:

Olympiacos, based in Piraeus, is the most successful club in Greek football history, having won a record 40 League titles, 26 Greek Cups, 16 doubles and a record 4 Greek Super Cups.

Olympiacos' domination in the league is emphasized by the fact that they have won it more times than all the other Greek clubs have in total (40 to 37). It is one of the three clubs to have never been relegated from the top flight of Greek football; in European competitions, they have reached the quarter-finals twice, in the 1998–99 Champions League and the 1992–93 European Cup Winners' Cup. Olympiacos is also one of the founding members of the European Club Association.

I.

VI.
Valerenga vs Liverpool F.C.
Date: 07 August, 2013

Venue: Ullevaal Stadium, Oslo, Norway   

Kick Off: 18:00 BST
              22:30 IST

The Reds have a large fan base in Norway and this fixture will allow them to bring the club closer to those Norwegian fans that cannot make it to Anfield to see their team play.

About the opposition
:

Vålerenga is a Norwegian association football club from Oslo and a part of the multi-sport club Vålerengens IF. Vålerenga are five time Tippeligaen champions and four times Norwegian Football Cup champions, having last won the league in 2005, and the cup in 2008.

This will be the sixth time Liverpool have faced Valerenga in a friendly game, with the last occasion ending 3-3 two years ago.


VII.
Celtic vs Liverpool F.C.
Date: 10 August, 2013

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland   

Kick Off: 17:00 BST
              21:30 IST


Celtic are making a welcome return to the Aviva Stadium, having played there in 2011 in the Dublin Super Cup. It will be the first time the Reds have played the Scottish champions since the clubs met in Connecticut, USA in July 2004.


Liverpool's Man to Watch - Iago Aspas
 

Captured for £7.5m this summer, the man from Celta Vigo will be the player to watch this season. A product of Celta's youth academy, Aspas’ career kicked off in 2006-07 for the club’s reserves.

The 2012-13 season was Aspas’ first in La Liga, in which he was vital to his club's survival – with twelve goals and seven assists in thirty-four appearances, playing a part in nineteen of their thirty-seven goals over the course of the campaign. Intriguingly, Aspas’ 57% shot accuracy last term would have been second highest in the Premier League, with Luis Suarez further down the list on 50%.

Although he mainly featured as the lone striker in Celta’s 4-2-3-1 system, Aspas will offer Liverpool plenty of versatility should Rodgers persist with his preferred 4-3-3 formation. Predominantly left-footed, the Spaniard can be fielded on either flank as well as through the middle. In addition to possessing a keen eye for goal, he is technically adept and will afford the Reds plenty of creativity up top.


What the Bench-warmers need to do...

After inspiring end season performaces by Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, they will certainly be featuring as regulars under Rodgers in the coming term, along with Luis Suarez (after he returns from suspension and should he remain at Anfield).

With the capture of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto along with the return of Raheem Sterling and Fabio Borini from injuries, there will be plenty of competition for places in midfield and attack. These players will have to pull up their socks and the chances they get if they want to establish themselves in the first team.

Defensively, Martin Skrtel had a dissapointing season as the now retired Jamie Carragher got the nod ahead of him. The capture of the experienced Kolo Toure means that Rodgers is still not confident of the Slovakian's ability and he will have to gear up his game in the pre-season if he wishes to stay with the club.

Youngsters Sebastian Coates, Martin Kelly and Andre Wisdom will look to make the most of their opportunities in pre-season.


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