Liverpool’s fortunes went from the sublime to the ridiculous in 24 hours. They trounced Barcelona 4-0 at Wembley on Saturday but slumped to defeat by the same scoreline against Mainz on Sunday.
Having flown to Germany straight after thrashing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Co, Liverpool fielded a much-changed line-up at the Opel Arena. Only Emre Can and Adam Lallana kept their places in the starting XI.
Joel Matip made his first appearance since limping off at Wigan last month, while Divock Origi and Mario Grujic, who both scored against Barcelona, also started.
But Jurgen Klopp’s return to the club where he made his name became a nightmare from the moment Andre Wisdom was judged to have handled in the penalty area after 15 minutes.
Daniel Brosinski despatched the penalty, with further goals from Jhon Cordoba and substitutes Yunus Malli and Yoshinori Muto. It was a miserable afternoon for Klopp, particularly as Grujic had to come off with an ankle injury.
It was such a contrast to Saturday’s triumph at Wembley, when Sadio Mane seemed to answer the question as to why Klopp paid £30million to recruit him from Southampton.
He scored the opening goal, created the second — turned into his own net by Javier Mascherano — and ran amok until Klopp took him off to a standing ovation from the 89,845 crowd, the second biggest attendance since Wembley reopened in 2007.
‘I knew straight away what he (Mane) was about,’ said Adam Lallana. ‘You saw all those different parts against Barcelona but I saw them all in his first sessions.
‘He is different to what we have. He is unpredictable. He can go down the outside, he’s got a goal in his locker like he produced against Barcelona. He’s a very good addition to the squad.’
Klopp still has issues to deal with. The sight of James Milner leaving Wembley on crutches because of a heel problem, coupled with the hip issue that forced Daniel Sturridge to sit out the games against Barcelona and Mainz, will be causing concern.
‘Don’t start dreaming because we have beaten Barcelona,’ said Klopp after Saturday’s win.
Any dreamers on Merseyside will have been brought back down to earth by the performance in Mainz. The final whistle signalled the end of the Reds’ pre-season, and next they face a huge test in their Premier League opener at Arsenal on Sunday.