x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Liverpool v Manchester United – A friendly between two enemies

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers excited to play final against Manchester United. Plus other news from the world of club football.

Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, wants to see how his ‘developing side’ will deal with a new-look Manchester United side. Paul Ellis / AFP
Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, wants to see how his ‘developing side’ will deal with a new-look Manchester United side. Paul Ellis / AFP

Liverpool and Manchester United cannot seem to escape each other, even when removed to the far side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Premier League’s leading rivals, who have won 38 top-flight league championships and met 190 times in official competitions, will clash again tonight in Miami to determine the winner of the eight-club International Champions Cup.

A crowd expected to exceed 70,000 will see the two European sides, among the nearly two dozen teams who have been in the States this summer, play for the title at the close of the 12-day competition.

“I think the sponsors will be delighted, because you have got two of the biggest clubs in the world coming to Miami and it should be a great final,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said after a 2-0 victory over AC Milan in North Carolina on Saturday.

Rodgers knows he will face a different Manchester United under first-year coach Louis van Gaal.

“They are obviously playing a different system with a new manager and we are team that is continually developing, so we are looking forward to that,” he said.

United have been impressive throughout the event, but never more so than in their 3-1 victory over Real Madrid before a record US soccer crowd of 109,318 at the University of Michigan. Ashley Young scored two goals and Javier Hernandez added the third as United dominated the match.

Not even the introduction of former United star Cristiano Ronaldo could help Madrid, who found the net only through Gareth Bale’s penalty.

Darren Fletcher, who captained the team for the third time, successfully marshalled the midfield, negating the threat posed by Luka Modric, Isco and Xabi Alonso.

In their first two games in Group A, United defeated Roma 3-2 and Inter in a shoot-out after a scoreless draw.

Van Gaal tonight will get his first taste of United’s occasionally bitter rivalry with Liverpool, and he wants to see another win from his team.

“It will be another preparation game for us, but it’s better to win than lose,” he said. “It’s good for English football. I think it’s very important that two teams from the Premier League shall play in the final.”

The best moment of the Real Madrid match came when Young converted a flowing passing move that involved Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney, who back-heeled the ball to Fletcher on the edge of the box.

“You would come to the stadium just for that goal,” Van Gaal said of United’s first. “It’s a very good result for us and it gives confidence to all the players.”

He said Carlo Ancelotti, the Madrid manager, played to win.

“The game was not a friendly; I had the feeling that Real didn’t want to lose, which is why he started with Ronaldo a little bit earlier than expected.”

Despite the impressive first goal, Van Gaal was more pleased with the performance of his defence, in his new 3-4-1-2 formation, than his attack.

“It’s not a new system for [Juan] Mata, Rooney or Welbeck, who play in their position, neither is it a new system for the two midfielders,” he said. “The greatest impact with this new system is on the back line. It’s amazing we had one chance against us in the first half, and two in the second.”

Lampard to play at City for remainder of year

Frank Lampard will join Manchester City next week as he begins a loan spell with the English Premier League champions.

Although the club have not yet announced the deal, City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed that the England midfielder’s 13 trophy-laden years at Chelsea will end when he joins City on Wednesday.

Lampard two weeks ago signed to play for City’s sister club, New York City FC, in 2015.

With the 2015 Major League Soccer season not starting until the spring, there was speculation that Lampard would head to Melbourne City, the third club owned by the City Football Group, on a short-term deal.

But following the friendly against Olympiacos in Minneapolis, Pellegrini said that Lampard, 36, will move to the Etihad until the new year, before the US season begins in March.

“At the moment, he will work with the squad and be a member of the squad. He will fight for a position,” Pellegrini said. “He knows we have a very good team, we have a lot of players in his position. He is one player more.

“We have a lot of games, particularly with the Champions League, so he’s very important for our team.”

Reports suggested that Lampard would be unwilling to face Chelsea, on September 21.

Pellegrini suggested he would be open to the possibility of Lampard missing the Chelsea game, although there was no guarantee he would not feature.

Lampard was introduced in New York on July 24 and conceded he was eager to keep himself fit ahead of his American adventure.

“How I do that is not clear yet,” he said at his presentation with the MLS side, ahead of his City move.

Time in the Premier League could help Lampard extend his England career, which has resulted in 106 caps and 29 goals.

Argentine striker for Newcastle

Facundo Ferreyra, 23, the Argentine striker, yesterday completed a one-year loan move to Newcastle United after joining the list of foreign players who refused to play with Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk. Shakhtar are based in the unstable, eastern part of Ukraine.

Hamburg sign Swiss midfielder

The Bundesliga side Hamburg signed Valon Behrami, 29, a Swiss international midfielder, from Napoli on a three-year deal. Reports indicate his transfer fee was €4.5 million (Dh22.2m), rising to €6.5m if he makes 20 appearances with Hamburg, who narrowly avoided relegation last season.

Italian official’s Racist slur

Italy and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini endorsed Demetrio Albertini for Italian football federation president after rival candidate Carlo Tavecchio referred to African players as “banana eaters”. Chiellini said the position needs someone with “decorum and personality”.


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