Liverpool’s preparations for the 2021-22 season conclude on Monday in front of the Anfield faithful, as Osasuna make the journey from Spain for a friendly encounter.
Jurgen Klopp’s men will do battle with Athletic Bilbao 24 hours before the visit of Osasuna, who recently claimed an impressive 3-1 success over Real Sociedad.
With very little happening off the pitch in terms of transfer activity – at least in terms of incomings – Klopp’s focus has simply been on what is in front of him on the field, but Liverpool’s pre-season has been a mixed bag to say the least.
The Reds’ stint in Austria saw them play out 1-1 draws with Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart before a narrow 1-0 success over Mainz, and they travelled back to the UK on the back of an enthralling but ultimately demoralising 4-3 defeat to Hertha Berlin.
However, two separate Liverpool XI’s proceeded to produce the goods in a pair of hour-long friendlies against Bologna, as Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane struck for one Reds team in a 2-0 win while Takumi Minamino netted the winner in a 1-0 success two hours later.
Klopp will once again split his squad into two for back-to-back friendlies in quick succession, as Athletic Bilbao will step out onto the Anfield turf on Sunday, but whichever Liverpool side is selected for Monday’s battle will be under more pressure to finalise Liverpool’s exhibition period in the perfect manner.
Osasuna may have languished to an 11th-placed finish in La Liga last term, but if their pre-season exploits are anything to go by, Jagoba Arrasate’s side have a top-half finish and potentially even a European charge firmly in their sights.
Placing 11th during just their second season back in the big time is certainly nothing to be sniffed at, and Osasuna have laid down a marker with six successive pre-season victories in their native Spain, the most recent of which saw them sink Real Sociedad 3-1 in the Euskal Herriko Txapela on Friday.
Croatian striker Ante Budimir netted twice on the day – either side of Willian Jose’s equaliser – before Jaume Grau’s 78th-minute effort ensured that Osasuna would maintain their 100% record in pre-season ahead of a daunting trip to Anfield.
While Euro 2020 bit-part player Budimir represents one of only two permanent signings for Arrasate’s side in the summer window, the other is former Eibar striker Kike Garcia – who struck 12 La Liga goals for the now-Segunda Division side – so attack ought to be the best form of defence for an Osasuna side seeking a memorable top-half finish in the 2021-22 season.
Liverpool Pre-Season Friendlies form:
Osasuna Pre-Season Friendlies form: