Tonight Liverpool take on Villarreal in a pre-season game in Spain. This will be the first pre-season game where Rafa will have a full compliment of players to choose from now that the Spanish contingent is back in training after winning the European Championship. Krisztian Nemeth is also back after playing for Hungary in the European Championships for Under 19’s.
Pepe Reina has however left the team in Spain and gone back to England to be with his wife who is expecting their second child. Depending on the events, the Liverpool goalkeeper may still rejoin his teammates and take part in tonights friendly, which has been organised as part of the deal which saw Reina leave Villarreal for Liverpool two years ago. It would be a shame if Reina misses out on a game which was meant for him.
Stevie Gerrard is also back in contention after missing the last pre-season games with a slight injury. Tonight may be the first time we get the chance to see Robbie Keane and Torres play upfront together. It would have been great to see Rafa put out what would probably be our strongest starting lineup for the coming season but with Mascherano away with Argentina for the Olympics, so to Babel and Lucas, Rafa may not get the chance to show us his best hand.
Speaking ahead of the game, Rafa was asked, “You face another friendly in Villarreal tomorrow. Is that a chance to step it up against quality opposition?” Rafa replied, “Yes I think that Villarreal is a very good team. The board is really good, the chairman is fantastic and everyone has been doing a fantastic job for them over the past few seasons. That’s the reason they are in the Champions League and why they were near the top of the league in Spain. They are a good example for small teams. I remember them from when I was in the Second Division. It is a fantastic club.”
It is just another pre-season game but hopefully we can win it. The most important thing would be to get players fit and new combinations to work together and a victory to add to that would not be bad.