On a day when all the focus at the Community Shield is on the star strikers recruited by Manchester City and Liverpool this summer, it was the Reds’ Darwin Nunez who proved to be far superior to his opponents. me.
Man City have struggled to get the best from £51m-rated Erling Haaland from the start but the £85m Liverpool man has been looking in the right place in their front line from the moment he came on with 30 minutes of play.
It was a stellar performance by Nunez’s substitute, ending with a stooped header to seal the 3-1 win, with the 23-year-old displaying a superb combination of speed, skill and power to cause real problems for City’s backline.
In contrast, Haaland’s dazzling miss from more than six meters in the final moments ended an uncomfortable evening for him and his teammates, who never seemed to be sure. How to match him.
Haaland will of course have good results – his record is astounding – but early signs are that City’s adaptation to having a focal point of attack may take some time.
After winning the title last season without a striker, Pep Guardiola now has one of the best players in the world at his disposal, but the transition has not been easy at the King Power Stadium.
Haaland may have scored within 11 minutes in Man City’s first game against Bayern Munich last weekend, but here he got just three touches in the opening half-hour, during which his team-mates he seems reluctant to break through the open play. His runs missed and Virgil van Dijk stepped in to beat him with the ball towards his feet.
After 30 minutes, some signs of promise appeared more and Haaland had a couple of chances in quick succession as he shot into Adrian and then volleyed wrongly when he was off the field. But a Joao Cancelo pass was easily intercepted in Haaland’s direction after the break, followed by a misunderstanding with Kevin de Bruyne and a lasting sense that City were not playing to his strengths. .
At the other end, Nunez was immediately involved as he was brought on, twice being played by teammates to get past one-on-one and repeatedly made crosses, winning a header from one and scored Liverpool’s third from another game . Looks like he’s been there for a long time.
Other players who have scored on their Liverpool debut under Klopp are Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk. Nunez will have to go through several successful seasons to match these players’ contributions to the team, but early signs are promising. Especially when contrasted with the sporadic attack of Haaland and his Man City teammates on the other end.
Salah is still the star of Liverpool
Amid all the excitement about Nunez’s new arrival, there was plenty of evidence on Saturday that Mohamed Salah is set for another big season for Liverpool. The Egyptian played video in the opening stages, swooping past a lower Cancelo to shoot into the side net, pass for Trent Alexander-Arnold to score, and, after his pass to Nunez, led to the kick. penalties, he was on the spot to give Liverpool the lead.
After the shock of losing Mane to Bayern Munich, Salah’s contract extension is a big boost for Liverpool supporters this summer and last season’s golden boot winner looks very motivated to do so. achieve more heights in the next chapter of Liverpool’s career.
The game’s top dribbler, Liverpool’s top chance creator Salah is set to make a quick start to this campaign. But that might be how he gets it done, that’s really decisive. While Egypt’s failure to qualify for the World Cup was a blow at the time, Salah will be given a welcome break for the opening games in November and December when Nunez is in Qatar against Uruguay. Once again, he will be key to Liverpool’s hopes.
Alvarez makes his mark
For a moment, it looked like the winner of the big forwards penalty shootout would be Julian Alvarez. With all the attention of the outstanding £136m talent owned by Haaland and Nunez, the relatively unknown 22-year-old, signed from River Plate for £14m in January, has scored his mark, scoring in Man City’s equalizer.
An initial offside call and protracted VAR correction scuppered the initial reaction to the close-range finish – and when the correct verdict was finally delivered, Guardiola was conveying very well. many directives to the young striker, who looked like he wanted to celebrate. But Alvarez looks set to attract more of his own attention as this season goes on.
After Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick for Arsenal earlier in the day, Argentina international Alvarez appeared to pose a similar threat, with a strong run and instinctive finish being a hallmark of his game. that.
He may not be a superstar at Man City right now but of the club other This year’s striker signing could also prove to be an important one.
Liverpool are ready to face Man City again
The intensity of Klopp’s side seems to have given City a chill in the early stages and while Premier League leaders have increasingly entered the scene, they have certainly been rocked by a familiar foe.
The last time the two teams met Liverpool won the FA Cup semi-final with a memorable 3-2 scoreline in April, and each showdown between the country’s top two teams is now entertaining. That’s because of how closely together they are – but also because of the appetite Klopp’s men have for their title competitors.
After narrow defeats at the end of last season, when Liverpool dropped a single point in the Premier League and the Champions League final with a single goal, they seem to have put their frustrations behind them. to reappear in this term. There may have been alarm bells in the wake of a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United at the start of last season but Liverpool are now ready for the campaign ahead, with a morale-boosting win over their current biggest rivals. .
Community Shield results should never be read too much – Man City and Leicester went on different paths after Brendan Rodgers’ side won at Wembley last year – but all the signs from today’s competition Saturday both headed for another brilliant battle between the two sides for the top title.
Liverpool take on Strasbourg in their final pre-season friendly on Sunday at Anfield, before playing their first game of the Premier League season away against Fulham on Saturday 6 August.
Manchester City now turn their attention to defending their Premier League title when they face West Ham on Sunday, 7 August, live on Sky Sports Premier League – starting at 16.30pm.