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Soccer: Liverpool's wide men hold key to success

57   //    04 Aug 2017, 19:16 IST
Soccer Football - Hertha Berlin vs Liverpool - Pre Season Friendly - Berlin, Germany - July 29, 2017 Liverpool's Sadio Mane in action REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE
Soccer Football - Hertha Berlin vs Liverpool - Pre Season Friendly - Berlin, Germany - July 29, 2017 Liverpool's Sadio Mane in action REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE

LONDON (Reuters) - If Sadio Mane doesn't get you on the left, then Mo Salah will ensnare you on the right.

Liverpool's new pincer attack caught out Bayern Munich in their own backyard in a pre-season friendly and should ensure the club with one of the most exciting frontlines in the league mount a credible title challenge.

Salah has given manager Juergen Klopp even more attacking options with four goals in six frendlies since his 36.9 million pounds move from Roma.

Rookie striker Dominic Solanke and former Hull City left-back Andy Robertson have also joined but Klopp has been involved in so many transfer standoffs this summer that he would be wise to check that no one has sneaked in or out unnoticed.

Frustrated in his attempts to sign Naby Keita from RB Leipzig and Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, the German faced the reverse problem in keeping Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona's clutches.

But with the football media persistently reporting that all three players still fancy a move, the comings and goings at Anfield could continue deep into August.

For all the talk from across the city at Everton, it is unlikely that any of the new Blue signings there would get into Klopp's team, who remain a match for anyone.

As with last season, the problem is unlikely to be scoring goals but stopping them, with the failure to recruit Van Dijk a major blow to shoring up a defence that seemed to give a collective wobble every time a cross came in.

Part of the reason was injury, with first-choice pairing Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren seldom available to play together. Keeping both fit may still prove a challenge and Klopp needs more back-up.

The German restored self-belief at Anfield last season, talking a good game even when Liverpool didn't play one.

Now he must deliver more, with a first trophy in five years a minimum requirement and their first championship in 28 the aspiration.

None of Liverpool's players are old enough to remember the time when titles were the Anfield norm and changing that dynamic after a summer in which Chelsea and the Manchester clubs have again outspent them will test even Klopp's motivational powers.

He will also not be fooled by beating Bayern, a result and performance very similar to the 4-0 thrashing they handed to Barcelona last pre-season.

While Liverpool seldom struggle against teams who want to win, they are often frustrated by lesser sides with limited ambitions. A strong start and end to the season sandwiched a disastrous run in the years when defeats to Swansea, Hull and Leicester ended their title hopes.

But they still scraped into the top four, from where they will be difficult to dislodge this time round.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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