As Manchester United prepare to kick-off in the International Champions Cup in Denver, Colorado, a annual pre-season tournament based in the United States and sponsored by Guinness, against Italian giant Roma, Louis Van Gaal’s squad will be without right-back Rafael, who left Friday night’s training with a groin injury. Van Gaal confirmed after the practice that the 24 year old Brazilian will miss the Roma match.
Rafael played the entire second half of United’s 7-0 victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday night. However, a matchup against Roma would have been a better test for Van Gaal’s players as they try to solidify first team playing time. Roma finished 2nd last season in Seria A, and have re-loaded for this season and many believe they are now the team to beat in Italy. Roma defeated Liverpool 1-0 on Wednesday. An opportunity lost, is an opportunity gained. The spot is now all but Antonio Valencia’s to have. Valencia has the pace and the experience needed to suit well in the 3-5-2 formation. Valencia also isn’t a liability in the back, and as he showed against Los Angeles, he can create scoring chances with his speed and crossing ability. Valencia created the penalty kick opportunity which Wayne Rooney connected to give United a 2-0 lead prior to half-time.
In other news from practice, Van Gaal said midfielder Tom Cleverley and defender Tyler Blackett will both play full-90 on Saturday. With Darren Fletcher playing the entire match on Wednesday, it’s no surprise Van Gaal will now use Cleverley in that spot. Blackett played really well as well against Los Angeles and earned an extended look, as I documented after the match. United and Roma kick-off at 2pm local (9pm UK). According to Van Gaal, Cleverley and Blackett will be the only ones to play the entire match. The other 9 players will switch at half-time. It is also expected that Ander Herrera will start alongside Cleverley in central midfield.
Weather will play a vital part of the game, as temperatures are expected to surpass 90’F/32’C at kickoff. After Friday’s practice, Van Gaal made it clear he was not too pleased with playing right in the afternoon in such heat. While a later kickoff would make more sense for player purposes, i am sure the game was scheduled earlier in the day to cater to fans back home in the U.K.