Liverpool drop defensive disasterclass! Seven things we learned as electric Darwin Nunez can't prevent Reds from pre-season draw with Greuther Furth

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Darwin Nunez Liverpool love heart 2023
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The Reds' sloppy defending meant they could only come away with a 4-4 draw in their latest pre-season friendly

Some good, some very bad. That's probably the best way to view Liverpool's pre-season draw with Greuther Furth. This was the Reds' final 'warm-up' game before tougher meetings against Leicester City and Bayern Munich, and they started off promisingly, with Luis Diaz opening the scoring in sublime fashion midway through the first half.

Jurgen Klopp's 11 changes at the break led to the previously well-structured affair becoming pretty chaotic. Julian Green's equaliser two minutes after the restart set the tone, with Darwin Nunez levelling things up shortly after.

The dangerous Nunez soon doubled his tally, but Liverpool then contrived to orchestrate their own downfall, with a string of defensive errors gifting Greuther Furth a 4-3 lead.

For the final 10-or-so minutes it looked like the Reds were heading for defeat, only for Mohamed Salah to level things up at the death and save his side's blushes. Klopp was all smiles at the end, even taking time for a few selfies with the opposing staff, but certain things he witnessed will have frustrated him.

GOAL looks at what we learned during the clash in Germany...

  1. Reds aren't risking Szoboszlai
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    Reds aren't risking Szoboszlai

    The pre-game excitement for the friendly was tempered slightly by the absence of Dominik Szoboszlai from the squad. Liverpool acted quickly to allay fears of any serious injury, with Klopp explaining: "He rolled his ankle slightly in training, really nothing.

    "Everybody is super-positive about it, himself first. If we would have today a Premier League game or whatever, he could play. So, we don't take a risk and we will see what we will do with the Leicester game after travel [and] stuff like this. But for the Bayern game he will be ready, definitely."

    The £60 million ($77m) arrival from RB Leipzig has been presented as the ideal Kloppian midfielder, the perfect blend of bravery, work rate and creativity. His absence here is not the end of the world, but it is undoubtedly a blow.

    This low-stakes game would have provided the Hungarian with another platform to build up an understanding with his team-mate ahead of the campaign kicking off properly. Klopp will be eager to test him out in the Reds' remaining pre-season fixtures.

  2. Sloppy defending
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    Sloppy defending

    Liverpool's second-half back four put on a defensive disasterclass. There's no other way to describe it. They surrendered their team's lead within a few minutes of taking the field and things did not get any better from there.

    The second goal was a bit of a horror show for Joel Matip personally, as he fluffed a clearance and allowed Lukas Petkov to fire the ball through the legs of a fuming Adrian. Armindo Sieb then profited from some seriously slack defending, taking all the time in the world to finish off Petkov's cut back from close range.

    The fourth goal was worse. After the ball broke kindly to Sieb, three of Liverpool's four defenders cravenly retreated towards their goal-line, again affording the forward far too much space to score from just outside the box.

    It's understandable they struggled. Changing your entire back four at half-time is rarely a recipe for defensive consistency. Even still, the lack of intensity in their challenges will have done Matip, Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas very few favours as they look to break into the starting line-up this season.

  3. Is Ben Doak ready for more football?
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    Is Ben Doak ready for more football?

    Another pre-season friendly, another encouraging performance from Ben Doak. Still just 17 years old, the Scot was handed a pair of Premier League cameos last season after impressing for Liverpool's Under-21 side. And it could be time for him to take the next step in his development this season.

    Recently, Klopp has been singing his praises, saying: "Ben Doak, still 17, but he is just a joy to watch! With all the little struggles he has with losing the ball here & there, but the bravery, speed and the power is so cool to see."

    It was more of the same here. He carved out the first meaningful opportunity of the game completely off his own back, skipping past two players down the right before firing an effort into the side netting.

    Liverpool's forward line is well stocked with different options, but in the cup competitions the Reds must now be seriously considering handing Doak a start or two. There's also the option of sending him out on loan, and on the evidence of his pre-season performances, there would be no shortage of suitors.

  4. Luis Diaz came to play

    Luis Diaz came to play

    After making a roaring start to his Liverpool career, Luis Diaz's first full season at the club was ultimately underwhelming, with a knee injury restricting his involvement. As a result, the Colombian will be laser focussed on making up for lost time this campaign - and this restless energy was definitely present against Greuther Furth.

    Setting up camp on the left wing, Diaz was constantly looking to test his opposite number and had plenty of success. After catching the eye early on with some explosive runs, he opened the scoring inside 22 minutes, showing razor-sharp control to create just enough space for himself in the box before finding the bottom corner.

    The goal was the highlight of a seriously impressive cameo and it suggests that Diaz could be primed to replicate the devastating burst of form that got Liverpool fans so excited at the beginning of last year.

  5. Klopp is committing to playing Trent in midfield

    Klopp is committing to playing Trent in midfield

    As if we needed any more proof, Klopp's first-half line up further suggested that Trent Alexander-Arnold will be starting the season in a midfield role. The German flirted with this concept towards the end of the 2022-23 campaign, with the Liverpool youth-team graduate looking reborn in an inverted full-back role.

    In Germany, though, just as was the case during the Reds' previous friendly against Karlsruher, Alexander-Arnold started in an unambiguous defensive midfield role - with youngster Conor Bradley taking on right-back responsibilities.

    It was a bit of mixed bag for the England international. Some of the hallmarks of an Alexander-Arnold performance were here: raking passes, great energy and stunning vision. But there was also one or two moments when he struggled positionally.

    The nuances of playing this position will come in time, but his struggles will be enough to spark a debate over whether a permanent shift centrally is in the team's best interests. Perhaps a return to the 'best of both worlds' role he played at the tail end of last season would be preferable.

  6. Gakpo could be the answer in midfield
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    Gakpo could be the answer in midfield

    When Cody Gakpo arrived at Liverpool last January, there was some disagreement over where he would play for the Reds. At PSV, he'd mainly be used as a wide forward, but in typically Dutch fashion, he is ludicrously versatile.

    Central midfielder is another position he can pull off and with Liverpool looking light in that area, this could be where he gets the majority of his minutes this season. This shouldn't be viewed as sticking gaffer tape over a gaping hole, though. Gakpo has serious potential to become a top-class midfielder.

    He showed this in spurts against German opposition, using his strength and grace to dance through the centre of the pitch for fun. He has an eye for a pass too and can shoot from range, giving him all the attributes requires to be a seriously effective No.8.

    With new signing Alexis Mac Allister on display, it was Gakpo who looked like Liverpool's best midfielder in this one.

  7. The Darwin x Salah combination could be deadly
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    The Darwin x Salah combination could be deadly

    When Liverpool were struggling last season, you could not move for opinion pieces alleging that their new-look frontline couldn't play together. While there wasn't quite Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino levels of understanding on display against Greuther Furth, there was encouraging signs that things were shifting in a positive direction.

    None more so than Salah and Darwin Nunez linking to such devastating effect in the second half. Early on, the Egyptian found Nunez with a splitting through ball, and he skipped past goalkeeper Jonas Urbig before rolling into the empty net.

    The team-mates combined again on the hour mark. This time, the Uruguayan deserves a greater share of the credit, having shown strong and poise to shake off his defender, but the assist should still go down as Salah's.

    If Liverpool are to usurp Manchester City and Arsenal as the Premier League's top dogs, cultivating strong relationships like this in the final third is going to be key.