On Sunday 12th August 2012 I went to Anfield to watch Liverpool play Bayer Leverkusen in a Pre Season Friendly.
After deciding to stay in Liverpool for a couple of nights, we had managed to coincide this trip with Liverpool’s friendly against German side Bayer Leverkusen at Anfield. I had visited the stadium once before for a ground tour in 2009 but I had never seen a game at the famous ground and this was a good opportunity to do so.
We arrived in Liverpool earlier in the day and we were walking through the city when I noticed the Bayer Leverkusen team coach outside a hotel. By pure luck we had come across the hotel that the Leverkusen players had been staying in and this gave me a chance to get pictures with some of the players. I met striker Stefan Kiessling, Daniel Schwaab, Junior Fernandes, Andre Schurrle, goalkeeper Bernd Leno, Sidney Sam and coach Jan Moritz Lichte.
Outside the stadium was quite busy despite the fact that it was only a friendly match. There were many stalls selling various pieces of merchandise including t-shirts, flags and even a split scarf especially for today’s game! Me and my Dad walked all around the ground, including having a look at the Bill Shankly statue and the Hillsborough memorial as well as taking photographs and soaking up the matchday atmosphere. We then headed through the turnstiles and taking our seats in the Main Stand.
Anfield has four large stands, one of which is the famous and very impressive Kop. The ground has managed to mix both modern and traditional features by keeping four individual all seated stands which you don’t get at many of the top ground in Europe nowadays. Sadly though, it does feel a little as if Liverpool’s home is falling behind some of the major stadiums in this country and you can understand why the club are looking to move to a brand new stadium although this would be a shame with all the history relating to their current ground.
There were some 20,000 empty seats inside the stadium and this seemed to create a bit of a quiet, pre-season atmosphere although the fans still sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ with as much passion and volume as they would have in a packed ground. Leverkusen manager and former Liverpool player Sami Hyypia also received an excellent reception from the supporters before kick off on his return to Anfield.
The home side got the game underway and soon gave the fans something to shout about when Raheem Sterling gave Liverpool the lead in the 3rd minute. The 17 year old received the ball from Jose Enrique, charged past two defenders and fired the ball in to the net from the edge of the area to complete a wonderful individual goal.
Leverkusen nearly hit back straight away when some lazy defending from the English side left Stefan Kiessling with a free header in front of goal but his effort went straight in to the arms of goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
For a while there was quite a leisurely pace to the game with neither side able to create any good opportunities. On the 29th minute Liverpool were given a good opportunity to double their lead when Luis Suarez was brought down on the edge of the area and awarded a free kick. Stewart Downing took the kick short and managed to find Suarez who was unmarked in the area. A defender kicked the ball away from the attacker and straight in to the path of Lucas Leiva who put the ball in to the empty net to double the Reds’ lead at 2-0.
At the end of the half, Kiessling had another chance to score for the visitors but he fired over the crossbar from close range which meant his side went in at the break trailing 2-0.
Both sides made lots of substitutions at half time and Liverpool brought on Andy Carroll, the striker who is rumoured to be leaving the club this summer. Carroll looked dangerous and almost scored early in the second half when he got on the end of a cross but his effort could only find the side netting.
On the 65th minute, Carroll received the ball outside the area and his long range effort deflected off the Leverkusen goalkeeper’s legs and rolled in to the back of the net. This appeared to put the game beyond doubt with a 3 goal deficit looking far too much for the German side to pull back.
Leverkusen made a few changes to try and get back in to the game and substitute Sidney Sam did pull a goal back on the 75th minute. Sam charged forward, fired from just outside the box and the ball flew past Reina and in to the bottom corner to make it 3-1.
However, the German side were unable to comeback and the game ended 3-1 which meant new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers kept his 100% record with the club at Anfield, having defeated Gomel in the Europa League earlier in the week.
I enjoyed my first ever game at Anfield. The ground was impressive, we had a brilliant view of the action and the game was very entertaining. Anfield is a ground that very football fan should visit as it is so famous and historical.
Liverpool 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Sterling ’3, Lucas ’29, Carroll ’65, Sam ’75Reina, Enrique (Robinson ’46), Carragher, Coates, Kelly, Shelvey, Lucas (Spearing ’46), Gerrard (Adam ’46), Sterling, Downing (Henderson ’46), Suarez (Carroll ’46) Leno, Schwaab (Carvajal ’68), Wollscheid, Toprak, Kadlec, Bender (Hegeler ’68), Reinartz, Rolfes, Bellalrbi (Sam ’46), Schurrle, Kiessling (Fernandes ’70) Attendance: 25,291