CAGLIARI, ITALY - FEBRUARY 01: AS Roma of the players celebrate after scoring during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and AS Roma at Stadio Sant'Elia on February 1, 2012 in Cagliari, Italy. (Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images)
Liverpool get set for the marquee matchup of their North American tour tomorrow night at Fenway Park, where they'll face Serie A side Roma. It'll once again be a chance for Brendan Rodgers' side to work their way back to form and fitness, this time with a larger squad and a few of the more familiar names expected to take part.
The club don't have long now for their preseason tour, as we've mentioned, with proceedings on the downhill side just as the English contingent and Fabio Borini join up. And while they likely won't have much to do tomorrow, it's another chance to watch Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers take shape. There were mixed results against Toronto--Noel did the recapping of the draw at the weekend, which saw a first half squad produce most of the possession and the second half squad get the goal and most people's attention.
So fitness and form and all that, as usual in the preseason, but with just over a week to separate tomorrow's match from the Europa League opener, in which they'll travel to Macedonia or Belarus, it'd be nice to see things take a bit more shape. We can likely expect most of that work being done against Spurs on Saturday, but it's probably time for some sort of foundation to be laid, even if it starts without those who'll do most of the building.
Roma kicked off their US tour in Chicago just two days ago at Wrigley Field, winning 4-0 over Polish side Zaglebie Lubin easily. Tomorrow's the sandwich match before they move on to New York to wind down with the El Salvadorian National Team.
Their big squad news to this point in the transfer window had mostly been exits--central defensive mainstay Juan left the club for Internacional in his native Brazil, and Liverpool newcomer Fabio Borini made his exit after Roma had won the blind auction with Parma for the player's rights. But last week they welcomed American international Michael Bradley, who did well with Chievo last season, and earlier today it was confirmed(ish) that 20 year-old striker Mattia Destro, who's been linked with most of Italy's top clubs, would be joining new manager Zdenek Zeman. Destro won't play any part, but Bradley played at Wrigley in a match that featured a couple of impressive goals, one from new signing Panagiotis Tachtsidis and another from former Barca man/boy Bojan Krkic.
As for Liverpool:
Wisdom Skrtel Agger Robinson
Aquilani Shelvey Suso
Pacheco Eccleston Sterling
There's a healthy contingent back for Brendan Rodgers, including new signing Fabio Borini and all of the English internationals. Still no Pepe Reina, but the others were back in training, most of the time on their own as those who've been around were engaged in more intensive training.
Their likely absences again leaves plenty of doubt as to who or what we'll see tomorrow, with Rodgers again likely to pick a constellation of younger players to go along with those who are spending their first significant amount of time with the senior squad. Of those that took part in Toronto, I'm looking most forward to seeing Suso, Raheem Sterling, and Dani Pacheco in action, and hoping for another late Lucas cameo as he works his way back to full strength.
I think it's fair to say that there's more interest attached to this one than the match in Toronto, and that's not solely out of self-interest. Fenway's a ballpark all about romance despite its shortcomings, and a matchup against a European side with plenty of history of their own carries a bit more of a draw. There's still nothing at stake, and it mostly benefits the owners of both squads, but it'll be one worth paying attention to.
Kickoff is at 11:30PM BST, 6:30PM EST, and there'll be coverage on ESPN2 in the US and ESPNUK in England. We'll have some miscellaneous content from now until the then--I was able to take in training today and got a few pictures, so I'll probably run a fanshot later, and there'll likely be some collection of somethings to report prior to getting things going with the matchday thread a few hours ahead of kickoff and team sheets an hour or before the match starts.