Liverpool need to recover quickly with little time between Uefa Super Cup and trip to Southampton

After two hours of football in Istanbul, the European champions have only 64 hours before their next Premier League fixture

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Success has its side effects. Liverpool kick off at St Mary’s on Saturday, a mere 64 hours after winning the European Super Cup.

They will have travelled 1,600 miles from Istanbul, even if the more relevant distance may be the 14km Fabinho covered in 120 humid minutes against Chelsea.

Squad rotation is rarely enforced in the second game of a league season. This might be that exception. While Jurgen Klopp channelled Rocky to hail Adrian, the hero of the penalty shootout, Liverpool may have to pick themselves up off the ropes.

Their powers of recovery were illustrated on their last trip to Southampton. A goal down after nine minutes, level after 79, they claimed victory.

Yet Naby Keita, scorer of that April equaliser, may be sidelined by a muscle injury; Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson, who added the late deciders, were two of those who played the full two hours on Wednesday.

The sense the super-clubs have to balance objectives and that the Super Cup’s status remains uncertain was shown long after midnight in Turkey, with the game still progressing, when Frank Lampard turned to Klopp to ask him about Liverpool’s weekend fixture. “Nobody wanted extra time,” the German subsequently said. Adrian’s stop from Tammy Abraham gave it a happier ending for Liverpool.

But Southampton feels a symbolic destination. Liverpool have won their last four games against Saints, each by at least two goals and with Salah on the scoresheet, but there is no margin for error. They did not drop a point against bottom-half finishers last season and it still was not enough.

The meeting of Klopp and "Alpine Klopp", as the Austrian Ralph Hasenhuttl has been nicknamed, features common denominators as well as shared ideas. Sadio Mane left Hampshire three years ago with a reputation for explosiveness and inconsistency.

He returns as a great, with a share of the Premier League’s Golden Boot and as one of only three Liverpool players, with Kenny Dalglish and Terry McDermott, to have scored in both the European Cup and the Super Cup finals.

Yet if the catalyst was Roberto Firmino, whose half-time introduction was game-changing and a reminder he can be both irrepressible and inimitable, the Brazilian’s entrance came at the expense of another old Saint.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first start in 16 months was a comparatively brief affair. It also served as a reminder that he has been miscast as a member of Klopp’s front three; his most dynamic displays in the spring of 2018 came as a midfield raider.

If the marathon men Henderson and Fabinho are absent and Keita injured, there could be scope for Oxlade-Chamberlain to return to a more natural berth. If not, it could afford an opening to Adam Lallana, another of the Southampton alumni.

They have also been found at the back. If Dejan Lovren’s prospective move to Roma, coupled with Nathaniel Clyne’s injury, reduces the contingent to one, Virgil van Dijk has work to do. Liverpool had England’s most frugal defence last season and conceded a mere 8.1 shots per league game.

In three matches, albeit in different competitions and when one stretched to 120 minutes, that is up to 13.3. All three starting strikers against Liverpool – Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, Norwich’s Teemu Pukki and Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud – have found the net.

Sooner or later, Liverpool need to tighten up. Much of their game is about chemistry; much, too, is about sharpness. Firmino brought both when he came on against Chelsea.

If Liverpool are shorn of that physical edge, they become more reliant on understanding and organisation, resolve and a winning habit. And with a second piece of European silverware, that is all the more apparent.