Having played out a 1-1 draw with Athletic Club yesterday, Liverpool took on another Spanish opponent at Anfield today. This time, they ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.

Naturally, many of the squad’s big hitters were rested after playing so recently, but the likes of Fabinho, Roberto Firmino, Kostas Tsimikas and Ibrahima Konaté were saved for this fixture.

Thiago Alcântara and Jordan Henderson were also both given their first run-outs of pre-season. The pair arrived late following their Euro 2020 exploits, while a slight injury problem for Thiago further delayed his return. While neither made the starting XI, both made cameos from the bench.

The friendly was organised in tribute to the late Michael Robinson. The Republic of Ireland international played for both sides during the course of his career, before going on to make a name for himself as a pundit in Spain. Anfield rose for a minute’s applause before kick-off, in touching recognition of Robinson and another former player in Tommy Leishman.

This was Liverpool’s final friendly before the season gets underway with a trip to Norwich City next Saturday.

Firmino makes his case to start against Norwich

Prior to the game, when asked if there were shirts up for grabs, Jürgen Klopp emphatically confirmed that his “team is always open.” Roberto Firmino will have done his prospects no harm with an excellent showing against Osasuna.

Until recently, the idea that Firmino’s place could be up for grabs at all would have been laughable. However, the Brazilian endured a tough season, underperforming his expected goals for the third campaign running and generally failing to have as big an impact as he would have hoped. The form of Diogo Jota since his arrival at Anfield has laid down a serious challenge to Liverpool’s number nine.

However, having finished last season strongly, Firmino built on that with a first-half brace against Osasuna. The first strike was simple enough, after a beautiful cross from Kostas Tsimikas did the hard work, but Klopp will be heartened by the striker’s movement: he got into exactly the right place to bag himself an easy goal. The second showcased his skills a little more — it was another excellent delivery, this time from Takumi Minamino, but Firmino had to produce an exquisite touch to take the ball down before finishing.

As one of the later arrivals to the squad, having reached the final of the Copa América with Brazil, it was assumed by many that Firmino would sit out for the Norwich game. That assumption might well have been dislodged by this performance.

First Anfield appearance for Konaté

Having played no part in the Athletic Club game, Ibrahima Konaté finally got his first taste of the Anfield crowd this evening.

Still at 75% capacity, the trademark roar was nonetheless on show — as too was the iconic anthem. Konaté staged his own spectacular announcement after signing for the club, using the #YNWA hashtag: he will no doubt have enjoyed hearing the song in person.

The 22-year-old centre back looked secure defensively, helping prevent Osasuna from creating many clear-cut chances. He also showed off his passing range with a delightful long ball to free Takumi Minamino, who couldn’t finish after a lovely first touch. Some of his mazy dribbles might have had hearts in mouths in a competitive fixture, but the early signs are looking very promising.

Minamino makes his mark

Shortly after spurning the chance created by Konaté, Minamino made amends by getting himself on the scoresheet.

Another lovely first touch got him clear of the Osasuna defence, and his finish went in with the aid of a rather large deflection. While there was fortune in the strike, the movement was worthy of the goal.

It’s significant that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in midfield in this game. It looks as though his false nine experiment is over for now, and the form of Minamino — who has scored three goals in this pre-season campaign — has surely played a part. For his part, Oxlade-Chamberlain looked far more at home in the middle of the park, putting in a lively performance. He was repeatedly denied by some good saves, and Rhys Williams should really have converted his lovely cross with five minutes to play.

NFC woes continue

Liverpool continued to have issues with the new ticketing system, again being forced to push back the kick-off time as fans faced a backlog getting into Anfield.

The delay was at least shorter than yesterday, with the wait being cut from 30 to 15 minutes, but with the season looming there will be concerns about how the club will cope with the stadium at full capacity against Burnley two weeks from now.

Prior to the match, Liverpool urged fans to get to the stadium early, offering free soft drinks to children prior to 6PM. A subsequent statement said the flow of fans was “greatly improved” compared to the Athletic Club game, and that the delay was imposed as a precaution in order to get supporters into the ground “as quickly and safely as possible.”

Shaqiri and Phillips futures in doubt

Despite not having been involved in yesterday’s match with Athletic Club, Xherdan Shaqiri and Nat Phillips were once again nowhere to be seen.

Both have been linked with moves away from Liverpool, and their absence in this game suggests that departures may be edging closer. If nothing else, there is sufficient interest to warrant not taking any risks with either player.

Neil Jones reported that while there is nothing imminent, there is a “sense that something will happen.”

Phillips has most recently been linked with a move to Southampton, while Shaqiri has persistently been the subject of Lazio rumours. Lyon are also said to have made an approach. Both players would be expected to fetch something in the region of £10-15 million.

Tsimikas impresses with extent of Robertson injury confirmed

The moments before kick-off brought the welcome news that Andy Robertson’s injury is “nothing too major.”

However, the Scot did confirm that he suffered some ligament damage in yesterday’s friendly. The Athletic expect him to be out for “weeks rather than months”, but he will undoubtedly miss the start of the season.

As such, Kostas Tsimikas will be presented with a huge opportunity. Having featured for a grand total of five minutes last season, he looks likely to get 90 in the opener against Norwich City. The biggest compliment he can be paid is that most fans probably won’t be too worried about it: the Greek has looked impressive throughout pre-season, and continued his good form against Osasuna.

He put the second goal on a plate for Roberto Firmino, whipping in an exquisite cross for the Brazilian to turn home. It was, dare we say it, Robertson-esque.

So was the half-volley blazed high into the stands, albeit for less flattering reasons.