Sturridge hobbles off as Reds make light work of Bayern
Bayern Munich 0 Liverpool 3
There was a sound of thunder as Liverpool marched into the Allianz Arena for their latest warm-up. The accompanying lightning bolts came from their counter-attacks.
Jurgen Klopp's side have looked outstanding in friendlies so far, but a swashbuckling 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich was of a different level. The manner in which Klopp's side ran such an accomplished side ragged on their own turf will have many wondering where this side is heading over the next 12 months.
There was a swift upward trajectory in the early months of last season which stalled due to injuries. On this evidence, expect the opening weekend to sound like a starting pistol to Klopp's sprinters.
Any judgments carry the caveat this was not a game of consequence but it would be misguided to argue it lacked competitive edge.
Unlike fixtures in Hong Kong and Berlin, Klopp was treating this as more than a training session. The outcome may have been irrelevant, but the performance was not.
With Liverpool seeking to assert themselves in such venues in the Champions League this season, it was a chance to assess if his team's summer form thus far was due to their own excellence or the deficiencies of opponents.
Klopp picked what could be considered his strongest line-up, save for the continued absence of James Milner and inclusion of goalkeeper Loris Karius, who has been lacking game time.
Alberto Moreno was a surprise selection but was as good as anyone. This was the first time Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have been on the pitch together and in the first five minutes one wondered how much possession they would see as Bayern dominated.
Yet as the Germans poured forward, it proved a strategic error. Klopp's side is never more dangerous than when invited to counter-attack, aptly demonstrated when Mane put the visitors ahead on seven minutes.
Firmino stole possession and sent the African clear to finish in style, and the fear visibly contaminated Bayern's play thereafter.
A gorgeous build-up involving a Mane back-flick and a Moreno cross enabled Salah to double the advantage on 34 minutes.
Klopp made changes at the break, the introduction of Adam Lallana and Gini Wijnaldum further evidence that Liverpool's lack of strength in depth does not apply to midfield.
The Liverpool manager would have been further enthused by the measure of control his side asserted in the second half, as Munich looked fatigued.
Daniel Sturridge chipped a glorious third before the end, although worryingly he appeared to feel his quad muscle as he did so and was substituted.
"He hurt his thigh, he has prepared really well. I hope it's only a small injury and can play again soon," Klopp said afterwards.
Klopp knows few sides in England will play with the same adventure and risk as Bayern, but for Liverpool this was a classic case of progress via the power of the counter-attack. (© Daily Telegraph, London)