Manchester United’s preseason tour of the United States finally comes to an end with a Monday night (8pm local, 1am UK) all-English showdown against Liverpool in the Final of the International Champions Cup in Miami.
The match is a classic example of a pre-season match that brings a little more meaning to it then most. The winner around with a big smile and feeling the pressure lifted off their shoulders. While the loser, will downplay the match as it means nothing. But no matter how you slice it, if you play in this match, you won’t want to lose.
Last season, Liverpool beat Manchester United 1-0 at home early in the season. And then later in the season 3-0 at Old Trafford. Liverpool just toyed with United as if it was playing a basement club. Most of the United players still remain from that team and surly they did not forget. And this is their first crack at Liverpool since then. United comes into the match with a very impressive 4-0-0 record on tour, after beating Real Madrid 3-1 on Saturday. In comparison, after 4 pre-season matches a year ago, United just had 1 win, 2 loses and a draw.
Amazing what a difference a year can make. But, the club still has much to prove before they begin their 2014-15 Premiership campaign. And beating a team that embarrassed them last season would be the best parting gift to a successful tournament.
There could never truly be a “friendly” between these two clubs anyways. The rivalry goes deeper then just the two clubs. Antonio Valencia and Raheem Sterling went at it during a England/Ecuador pre-World Cup friendly, ironically, also played at Sun Life stadium in Miami, the site of the United/Liverpool match.
No word on lineups yet, but I would expect Louis Van Gaal to treat this match a little higher standard then most as well, as he knows the value of losing to a rival. It is to be expected many of the starting XI will see full-90.
If I were to predict United’s starting lineup it’d look like this:
De Gea – Evans, Jones, Smalling – Shaw, Young, Cleverley, Herrera, Mata – Rooney, Chicharito.
– The defence has earned it. They have been great from the start and Van Gaal has noticed. Even rumblings of giving Evans the captain arm band.
– I put Shaw in, and took out Valencia because he’s started every game thus far. Cleverely in for Fletcher as he just played the full 90 on Saturday.
– Louis van Gaal will play 2 strikers. Zaha hasn’t earned the right to start, while Chicharito has, especially after his header goal vs. Madrid. With Danny Welbeck out, he makes the most sense.
For those keeping track at home, United enters their 5th and final match on the US tour undefeated with 13 goals for, 3 against. Liverpool comes in with 3 wins and a loss. 5 goals for, 4 against.