Louis To Burst Liverpool Bubble
Liverpool v Manchester United
Arguably the biggest rivalry in English football takes place in the United States in the final of the International Champions Cup as Liverpool and Manchester United clash.
Liverpool were 2-0 winners over AC Milan in their final group game of the competition to see them top the pile ahead of Premier League champions Manchester City and their Greek counterparts Olympiakos. Joe Allen and Suso got the goals for Brendan Rodgers’side late on Saturday night either side of a surprising penalty miss from Rickie Lambert as the former Southampton striker fluffed the chance to get off the mark for his new club.
It completed an unbeaten run of three games in the mini tournament after the Reds had already beaten Olympiakos 1-0, with Raheem Sterling getting the only goals of the game and following it up with a penalty shootout win over City after the top two in last season’s top flight had served up an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Jordan Henderson and a late strike once more from Sterling had twice equalized Stevan Jovetic goals for the Citizens before three successive spot kick failures in the shootout cost them dearly and Lucas Leiva completed a 3-1 win for Liverpool.
A record crowd of almost 110,000 people for a game in America turned up to see United beat Real Madrid 3-1 on Saturday in Michigan. A brace from Ashley Young – the first of which came after a fantastic team move – and late header from Javier Hernandez put Louis van Gaal’s side through to the final after Gareth Bale had briefly brought parity to the scores from the spot.
United finished the group with an identical record to their Merseyside rivals in the other group as they followed a 3-2 win over Roma in their first outing with a penalty shootout win over Inter following a draw in the second. Wayne Rooney’s double and a third from Juan Mata earned the win over the Serie A runners-up as Van Gaal’s charges hit the ground running.
Striker Daniel Sturridge is out after he was sent home for treatment on what Rodgers described as “a minor” hamstring problem which should be healed well in time for the start of their Premier League challenge against Southampton in a fortnight.
Adam Lallana and Fabio Borini had already been ruled out with knee and shoulder injuries respectively but the Reds’ manager has also to decide whther to change what has largely been an experimental backline to date in pre-season.
Van Gaal ruled his Dutch compatriot Robin van Persie out of this game and the remainder or pre-season after the win over the European champions as the striker has been given an extended holiday which will make it touch and go as to whether the striker will be fit for the start of the season.
Defender Chris Smalling is injured while Danny Welbeck came off early with a knee problem against Real which is likely to see the England striker miss out here too.
Head to Head
Liverpool completed a league double over United last season without the concession of a goal against David Moyes’ beleaguered side.
Sturridge got the only goal of the game last September at Anfield while the Reds crushed their bitter rivals 3-0 on their own patch in a match which sealed the former Everton manager’s fate thanks to a pair of penalties from Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez’s third rounded off a comprehensive win.
The Red Devils did knock their opponents out of the League Cup last season thanks to Hernandez’s scoring the solitary goal at Old Trafford in October.
Both teams have been impressive n pre-season and look to be up to speed ahead of schedule arguably thanks to the bulk of their squads returning early from after poor World Cup showings.
Liverpool definitely look to be decent value at 85/40 in the match betting but
with United suffering less absentees and looking close to their first-choice XI already the 23/20
on a first, albeit relatively meaningless trophy for Van Gaal inside a month at the club looks the better bet.