As Liverpool get ready to lock horns with Chelsea in an all-English UEFA Super Cup affair on Thursday, all eyes will be on the central defensive unit that Jurgen Klopp rolls out for the Reds at Istanbul.
Liverpool’s defence drew praise over the course of the 2018-19 Premier League season with the side conceding just 22 goals in 38 matches.
While they still fell agonisingly short of the Premier League title, Liverpool’s defence marshalled by Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk had started to become the envy of all the top European sides.
The same, however, has not been the case with their defence in pre-season as the side conceded 15 goals in just seven matches.
After falling to defeats against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Napoli, the Liverpool defence hasn't been at its best and will need to pick up form sooner rather than later to ensure a good start to the season.
While Van Dijk remains as imperious as ever, the Dutchman’s central partnership with Joel Matip in pre-season has failed to bear fruit. The pair were made to look ordinary by Napoli in the friendly clash with the Italians pumping three goals past them in a comprehensive 3-0 win.
Matip was also on the teamsheet when Liverpool were pipped 3-2 by Dortmund and the Cameroon defender has been shaky on several occasions. It was no surprise then to see Klopp revert to a central partnership of Van Dijk and Joe Gomez when Liverpool took on Manchester City in the Community Shield clash at Wembley.
Gomez had started to establish himself as the first-choice centre-back alongside Van Dijk last season but injuries have robbed the youngster of a consistent run. Matip was given a chance by Klopp to stake his claim for a starting berth in the pre-season but the former Schalke man has failed to really grab his chance.
It was Gomez who partnered the Dutchman in the 4-1 Premier League opening day win on Saturday and all signs currently point to the Englishman getting the nod over Matip.