Liverpool put up a show to win 4-0 amid flat atmosphere at National Stadium
A 5pm kick-off on a weekend featuring one of the biggest clubs in world football would normally be ideal for a party atmosphere inside a sold-out arena.
But, while Liverpool delivered on the pitch at the National Stadium on Sunday with a 4-0 demolition of Leicester City, the ambience did not quite match past standards, with only 28,597 fans in attendance.
Inside the 55,000-capacity stadium, the early signs were that it was set to be an eventful afternoon.
Reds fans packed the vicinity of Kallang as early as 2pm while proceedings inside the stadium began with a spine-tingling, rousing rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Reds supporters.
However, it was as good as it got when it came to replicating the world-famous partisan aura that Liverpool’s Anfield home ground is well known for.
Nevertheless, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who led his side on a lap around the stadium after the match and signed autographs for fans, praised the atmosphere.
Reflecting on the win, he said: “We need to be calm but, in some moments, we were too calm and the passing wasn’t quick enough. We had a lot of good moments, but we can do better.
“I’m absolutely fine, the result is top, nobody is injured, just a few knocks, and the atmosphere was top during the game and especially after the game. The lap we had afterwards was really special. We have now experienced it a couple of times. What the people are doing here, thank you for that.”
Sunday’s crowd paled in comparison to last July, when 50,217 fans packed the stadium to watch Liverpool beat fellow English Premier League side Crystal Palace 2-0 in a friendly. In 2019, about 50,000 fans caught Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-2 win over Juventus, while close to 53,000 witnessed Manchester United edging out Inter Milan 1-0.
Last Wednesday, Spurs ran out 5-1 winners over local side Lion City Sailors in front of 25,095 fans.
Sunday’s atmosphere, which rarely threatened to reach fever pitch all match, was also in stark contrast to the din that local Reds drummed up at an open training session on Saturday as about 15,000 fans gave their side a rousing reception from start to end.
@tnpdigital We caught up with the Reds' fans, and their excitement was palpable! #fyp #sgnews #liverpool #liverpoolfc #lfc #ynwa ♬ original sound - TNP
But while ticket prices for Saturday’s training session were priced at $32, Sunday’s match tickets start at $99. Another factor is that the Reds will also face Bayern Munich on Wednesday, in what is a more high-profile encounter as opposed to a match against a side who will compete in the second-tier English Championship next season.
Liverpool, who were decked out in their green-and-white away kits, lined up with their stars from the start with Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, captain Virgil van Dijk, 2022 World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister and fan favourite Andy Robertson all part of the starting 11.
While there was a chant of “Allez, Allez, Allez” that erupted from one corner of the stadium in the opening minutes, it took an eight-minute spell where Liverpool scored three goals for the crowd to truly come alive.
Darwin Nunez opened the scoring on the half-hour mark, slotting in the rebound after Leicester goalkeeper Mads Hermansen had initially saved Diogo Jota’s effort.
Fans were on their feet again just five minutes later when Salah teed up academy product Bobby Clark to drill home a low effort past Hermansen. Salah rounded off his evening with another assist in the 38th minute, with Jota rising highest to head in the Egyptian’s cross.
Klopp then made 10 substitutions at half time, bringing on players such as new signing Dominik Szoboszlai and Dutch forward Cody Gakpo.
But while the personnel on the field changed, the dull atmosphere did not, apart from the crowd cheering goalkeeper Alisson Becker when he came on for Caoimhin Kelleher in the 60th minute and three minutes later when Ben Doak headed in from a corner after a flick on from Joel Matip.
The Foxes, who have a new manager at the helm in Enzo Maresca, created several openings but could not convert. The prolific Jamie Vardy, arguably the most recognisable name in Leicester, did not make the match-day squad.
Maresca said Liverpool are the best team in transition and off the ball, adding: “We lost the ball few times and conceded on transition but results apart, today was very important to see how the team receive the idea and intention (of our football) and to be honest, I’m happy with that.”
@tnpdigital The Reds have arrived in Singapore today! ⚽🇸🇬 They will have an open training session at the National Stadium tomorrow before facing Leicester City and Bayern Munich. #fyp #sgnews #liverpool #liverpoolfc #lfc #ynwa ♬ original sound - TNP