What fans see as just a façade of true competition, the International Champions Cup proved to actually provide with a strong contest during this past week’s action. Spread out around the world, the tournament unfolded its first week with five matches resolved by penalties, four of which were whistled in on American soil. As standouts, I think Liverpool’s offense impresses the most.
For anybody that has given some thought to the ICC, the names of Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Sadio Mané have reddened the headlines. As key Liverpool players, they’ve had to prove themselves this pre-season for what they will be able to bring this upcoming season. Each of them bring something different to the pitch, but Shaqiri’s bicycle kick against Manchester United brought a long-awaited shine.
As a new exciting signing, Shaqiri will be a focal point in the world of football, as many expect a lot from the Swiss forward. After his culminating 2012-2015 season at Bayern Munich, time during which he won the UEFA Champions League, he felt ‘inadequate’ coming from the bench as a mere secret card for Franck Ribéry. Shaqiri’s aspirations to cut from the wings would mean to for the Frenchman congruent to watch the matches from the sidelines, something that could not happen.
This caused for him to leave Bayern Munich, but it also meant that he would have to prove himself wherever he ended up going. At Inter Milan he played 15 games, which resulted in a sole goal, and his transfer to Stoke City made things more complicated. While he was leading Switzerland in the Euro 2016, his club career was undergoing ragged treatment, as he was seeing little success in the near future. In 2018, after a convincing World Cup campaign, the move to Liverpool means a great deal to his career, as he is back on the main stage of professional football. This is a chance for him to prove his relevance in club football, amidst a squad that comes from a UEFA Champions League final appearance.
How’s he doing the pre-season?
On Saturday, Michigan stadium welcomed the two English legendary clubs of Liverpool and Manchester. The match ended in a 1-4 triumph for Jürgen Klopp’s boys, but the 82nd minute goal is what stole the show. In addition to the creative efforts by Shaqiri, he placed himself at the right spot, at the right time…with the right level of courage. Twisting his body in the air to reach for a high cross from Andrew Roberston, he managed to land a goal that brought Michigan Stadium to its feet. Although the goal may not count towards his professional career tally, it brings some attention on the Swiss winger, giving him a great boost to do the rest of the work.
His presence on the pitch will hold the football world asking for more, with the UEFA Champions League title as the ultimate goal on the Liverpool radar. I am certain he will not disappoint, as this is a second chance for him to bring himself to the top once again.
Cover photo: liverpoolfc.com
Bicycle goal: sbisoccer.com
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