Liverpool are nearing kick off in the Rotterdam tournament against Shanghai Shenhua in what will be our penultimate pre-season friendly.
Rafa has stressed that the players are playing for their places, as an abundance of midfielders are competing for their place in the new look reds side.
Speaking ahead of today’s game Rafa had his eyes firmly on the Aston Villa Premiership opener.
“We have made one or two changes to our training programme which we believe will help us start really well.
“The competition is so tough in England that it’s so important you get off to a good start and that will be our aim from the moment we kick off at Aston Villa.
“We have added some players who we believe will help us be a better squad and we are hoping they gel really quickly with the rest of the squad.
“I’m not stupid enough to say this is going to be our year or that we’re going to win it, but we will certainly be challenging. We have a good set of players and we will take some beating.”
Club captain Stevie G said:
“We played two tough games in Hong Kong in conditions that were high in humidity and heat.
“They were good workouts for getting the fitness levels up and closer to where they need to be to start the Premier League season the way we want to. ”We could not have asked for better conditions to get to know each other. I said before we went it would be good for team bonding and that is what happened.
“The new lads have got a feel for us and we have got a feel for them. I knew the boss had signed good players, lads who would improve the starting line-up, but after working with them over the last fortnight I’m even more confident they will be great acquisitions for us.”
Meanwhile Dirk Kuyt has high eyes firmly on Sunday’s game against Feyenoord, his former club:
“The other Liverpool players have asked me about Feyenoord, and what to expect from the crowd.
“I have told them they can expect something special and I am certainly looking forward to the game and my return to Rotterdam.
“It is almost one year ago now that I left, and I am certainly happy to be back here to play this weekend.
“I want to show the crowd as well as myself that I am a better player now.”