Sunday, July 28, 2013
Thailand vs Liverpool
Liverpool will wrap up their preseason tour of Asia and Australia on Sunday. Having already triumphed in friendly matches against Indonesia XI and Melbourne Victory, the Reds will aim to end their trip to the Far East with a 3-0 record by defeating Thailand.
As you can see in this Instagram photo of Reds captain Steven Gerrard, the people of Thailand are excited that Liverpool is coming to town:
The Reds will be visitors at Rajamangala National Stadium, but their supporters are expected to dominate attendance. Per Liverpool's official website, the Reds are estimated to have over 14 million followers in the country.
Stadiums in Jakarta, Indonesia and Melbourne, Australia have been filled to the brim during the first part of Liverpool's tour. There's a good chance that trend will continue in Bangkok.
The big question surrounding Liverpool these days is simple: Will Luis Suarez be on the roster when the Reds play their first Premier League match against Stoke City? As reported by Sky Sports, Reds managing director Ian Ayre has remained firm in his stance that the striker is not for sale.
According to David Hytner and Andy Hunter of The Guardian, Arsenal are currently preparing a fresh bid for the Uruguayan forward. Liverpool have continued to resist pressure to sell Suarez, but a hefty transfer bid might change their minds.
As the Reds continue to deal with the Suarez saga, work on their fitness and infuse new transfers Kolo Toure, Simon Mignolet and Iago Aspas into the lineup, Sunday's match will give Rodgers an excellent chance to gauge his club's progress before they return to Anfield to face Olympiacos in a friendly on Aug. 3.
Although fans in Thailand will gather to catch a glimpse of all of Liverpool's stars, Suarez is the one who shines the brightest when he's motivated to do so.
Unfortunately, he might not be with Liverpool much longer.
The subject of intense transfer rumours this summer, Suarez further fueled speculation that he's disinterested with his current club with his body language against Melbourne Victory.
Not yet a starter since he is returning from an extended hiatus, Suarez's overall production on Wednesday in a reserve role was in line with what we've seen during his three seasons with the Reds.
But after setting up Aspas for a late goal, Suarez's face remained without emotion. He barely acknowledged teammates after the ball went into the net.
Suffice to say, Suarez wants a transfer and he wants it now.
If that distraction wasn't enough for Rodgers and players like Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and others completely invested in helping Liverpool regain their status as a European contender, more news broke on Friday putting the business side of the club in doubt.
According to Simon English of The Sun, John Henry and Fenway Sports Group reportedly have interest in selling the English club for a sum of £350 million.
Citing excessive spending and Liverpool's inability to crash the European football scene, English's sources claim FSG have grown disinterested in their connection to the Reds and are instead looking to get out.
Distractions are everywhere, but the show must go on.
Back on the pitch, Rodgers is going to have to coach his players whether or not the name on the deed changes. With a seventh-place finish in the 2012-13 EPL table serving as motivation, the Reds have work to do to contend in the league this year.
Starting in the net, changes have been made. Mignolet was signed to provide competition for goalkeeper Pepe Reina, but the latter has moved on to Napoli.
It will be hard to judge Liverpool's current outfit based on Sunday's match. The Reds were content to coast in their match against Melbourne Victory and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the "friendly" label keep the club from going all-out on Sunday.
That being said, time is running out for Liverpool to prepare for the upcoming Premier League season. Olympiacos will travel to Anfield next week for another friendly, and two other matches against Valerenga and Celtic offer late chances for Rodgers to get his squad into shape.
Stoke City (Aug. 17) will be at Anfield before we can blink.
Regardless of the outcome, fans in Thailand will get a kick out of Sunday's friendly match. From seeing the club's stars to getting a brief glimpse at lineup strategies Rodgers is leaning toward using, there will be storylines worth watching as Liverpool concludes their tour of the Far East.