22:00 BST, Saturday 28th July, Michigan Stadium (Michigan, USA)
Weakened squads, managers playing down their respective chances for next season, a relatively meaningless game, an alien environment in a country which doesn’t “get” football. Don’t be fooled for one second. One of football’s greatest rivalries will ensure that these two adversaries approach this fixture wanting nothing less than victory.
Jose Mourinho may have cut a frustrated figure this summer, but his will to win will remain undiminished. Having been placed back in his favoured position as underdog, Mourinho will be hoping he can begin to bite back facing a club that United fans love to hate.
Jurgen Klopp’s preparations have been in complete contrast to those of Mourinho. Buoyed by a raft of summer signings and a season which just finished above expectations, Liverpool are seemingly a club on the rise.
Whether they can continue to march onwards remains to be seen but a good result in this match will provide plenty more fuel to the Reds growing beliefs.
Last Time Out
AC Milan 1-1 Manchester United (United win 9-8 on penalties) [International Champions Cup]
Alexis Sanchez continued his good pre-season form with another inspired performance in attack. However, it took 26 penalties to separate these teams and give United an eventual victory over the Italians.
Both goals arrived in the first 15 minutes of the match, Sanchez opening the scoring with a calm finish under Gianluigi Donnarumma after beating the offside trap. Milan were back on level term just three minutes later when Suso also broke free of the defence to collect a long-ball over the top and fire a shot past the helpless Lee Grant.
A long-range free-kick, a shot direct from a corner and an acrobatic effort within a minute of the second half kicking off, Sanchez was unfortunate not to double his goal tally in this game.
While the game proved entertaining, it remained locked in stalemate after 90 minutes which meant it headed straight into a penalty shootout. With nine penalties missed and the players beginning their second rotation of spot-kicks, Ander Herrera eventually hit the decisive goal to seal the triumphant result for United.
Manchester City 1-2 Liverpool [International Champions Cup]
A late penalty snatched yet another victory over Pep Guardiola’s City, albeit with an underwhelming performance.
On a poor playing surface resulting from a recent Taylor Swift concert, Liverpool largely failed to impress against what was a very young and inexperienced set of Citizens. Naby Keita missed the game due to a stiff neck, but fellow new signing Fabinho did start alongside the likes of Virgil van Dijk, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Whilst this core of players was unable to assert any authority on proceedings, Daniel Sturridge’s failure to make any significant contribution in attack was Klopp’s biggest disappointment.
Leroy Sane stung the match into life just before the hour mark which almost immediately led Klopp to making four substitutions, accompanying the five changes made at halftime.
It was the introduction of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane which proved the most fruitful, the former equalising for his team only a minute after entering the action.
Mane’s coolly converted penalty four minutes into stoppage time claimed the win, but while Klopp will be pleased with certain aspects, he will perhaps be concerned that his team’s main threat is still wrapped up between his two wide-forwards.
Manchester United Lineup
With several star players still missing following World Cup duty this summer, United will be further restricted by the injury to Antonio Valencia and the absence of Anthony Martial who has flown back to France.
However, both David de Gea and Nemanja Matic could feature in this game while new signing, Fred, is expected to make his United debut.
Liverpool could start the game with a strong core of their first-team players, especially in midfield where Keita and Fabinho could link up together for the first time.
Dominic Solanke has earned himself a start in attack while Loris Karius could well find himself in goal with Alisson Becker not expected to make his club debut until Liverpool face Napoli on August 4th.
Key Battle: Fred (Manchester United) vs Fabinho (Liverpool)
There is the potential for a Brazilian showdown of epic proportions in the heart of this game.
Having just joined up with the United squad, their new £52 million midfielder is hoped to bring them a creativity and composure which they need to control games.
As the only major signing to arrive at Old Trafford this summer, Mourinho will be expecting Fred to settle quickly into his new club, beginning with a game against their bitter rivals.
Action Images via REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Liverpool have also signed a Brazilian midfielder this summer, though Fabinho will play a deeper role than his United counterpart. This is likely to pit the two players head-to-head, with Fabinho tasked with nullifying Fred’s attempts to push United forward.
Whilst these teams, and the players in particular, are unlikely to produce their finest or most intense football during this match, this match-up will be full of intrigue and potentially revealing of the season to come nonetheless.
Mourinho has often expressed his preference to spend pre-season in the United States. More than providing state-of-the-art training facilities for his players, they also enjoy a relative amount of anonymity amongst the American public.
This has proven even more so this year, helped by the absence of many of their higher profile players. What wasn’t expected from this tour was the lack of interest in ticket sales which have significantly dropped in demand.
Their previous ICC game was changed from LA’s 90,000 capacity Rose Bowl to the StubHub Center which holds less than a third as many spectators.
With this game set to take place in the 107,000 capacity Michigan “Big House”, the second-largest stadium in the world, officials from both clubs will be hoping that reports of over 100,000 tickets already being sold are confirmed on Saturday evening.
Of all the transfer business that Liverpool have concluded this summer, their most important recruit could be easily overlooked.
Having agreed a deal this time last year, the arrival of Keita was hardly a surprise and became quickly lost in the headlines of other high-profile captures.
Action Images via REUTERS/Matthew Childs
An indifferent campaign with RB Leipzig last season also helped to dampen expectations of the Guinea midfielder, but reports coming out of pre-season suggest that Keita is certainly a player to watch this season.
With midfield proving a problem for Klopp at the end of last season due to numerous injuries and a shortage of options, this season could see him suffer a reversal of fortunes in the centre of his Liverpool team. Keita, though, could find himself quickly rise to the top of the pecking order.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-3 Liverpool
Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure throughout his side’s travels around America this summer and this game could sour his mood a little further.
Liverpool will be eager to improve upon their performance against Manchester City and with more senior players and more summer signings to lift morale, Klopp could claim a second ICC win in front of the largest crowd to have witnessed a game between these two clubs.
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