Jaded Liverpool given wake-up call

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The Independent Football

Liverpool's 3-1 defeat at the hands of Ajax on Saturday could be the shock they need to concentrate their minds on their looming Champions League campaign, for their hopes will surely be shattered if they play as badly as this.

For the Ajax manager, Co Adriaanse, it was a useful confidence booster prior to next week's third qualifying round tie against Celtic.

Pre-season warm-ups should not be taken too seriously, but Liverpool did not need this deflation as they prepare for the likelihood of a long trip to Tel Aviv next week and a clash with Maccabi Haifa that will shape their European destiny.

Liverpool looked tired and unable to raise themselves against an Ajax side who produced a performance of passing, movement and style that had the Amsterdam ArenA purring in approval.

Nikos Machlas grabbed two goals and Shota Arveladze the late third as Ajax clinched the Amsterdam Trophy. Robbie Fowler was on target for Liverpool as they lost for the first time since Easter.

Djibril Cisse was the star of the opening night of the new French season, hitting four goals to help impressive Auxerre win 5-0 at Stade Rennes on Saturday.

Stade Rennes, who looked exhausted after their 2-1 win over Aston Villa in the first leg of the Intertoto Cup semi-final on Wednesday, struggled from the start.

If Auxerre were outstanding, Paris St Germain made a disappointing start to the campaign when they were held to a goalless draw at home by Lille. The Parisians, without first-choice players such as Nicolas Anelka, Arteta and Gabriele Heinze, lacked the inspiration required to break down the Lille defence.

RC Lens ended an eight-month home drought when they beat Lyon 2-0. Monaco slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to promoted Sochaux, to condemn the new Monaco coach, Didier Deschamps, the former France captain, to defeat in his first match in charge.

The Bayern Munich striker Giovane Elber has warned people not to expect too much from the German and European champions following their surprise defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach. The Brazilian and his team-mates opened their Bundesliga campaign by losing 1-0 to the newly-promoted side.

Elber said: "Everybody thinks Bayern have a fabulous team and we will stroll through the Bundesliga from the first game to the last. Unfortunately, it's just not true. The whole team is not on form right now.

"People shouldn't expect too much from us," Elber said.

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