Manchester United and Liverpool, the two most successful English football clubs, are set to play each other this Saturday at Michigan Stadium. With a combined 38 league titles and eight Champions League crowns between them, the significance of the derby can’t be understated. It's only fitting that America's largest stage will host two of the world's largest clubs.
Upon winning the Europa League in 2017, Manchester United officially became England’s most decorated club with 42 major honors to Liverpool’s 41 — United’s 20 league titles to its rival’s 18 only strengthen its case. Liverpool fans will argue their five Champions League victories to United’s three grant their club superiority. The margins are thin.
The Merseyside club can claim to have one of the world’s best players in winger Mohamed Salah, while Manchester United’s midfield is marshalled by newly-minted World Cup winner Paul Pogba, who scored past Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren at the showpiece event in Moscow.
Forward Marcus Rashford’s brace put Liverpool to the sword the last time the two footballing juggernauts met in their 200th official meeting. However, the Manchester club is currently without Pogba, Rashford, striker Romelu Lukaku and a number of its starters who are on holiday after making deep runs in the World Cup.
Star forward Alexis Sanchez should provide relief to the depleted United squad. Anthony Martial, left out of the French team for the World Cup, is available and fighting for a starting role at Old Trafford next season, provided another club doesn’t sign him during the transfer window.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has had an eventful summer, having bolstered his midfield by acquiring stand-out performers from the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, Naby Keita and Fabinho, respectively. Xerdan Shaqiri has also been brought in to provide support for Salah and Sadio Mane on the Wings.
Liverpool’s headline singing has been that of Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who is set to take over the No.1 spot from Loris Karius. Karius has looked out of sorts in pre-season, carrying on his horrid form since the Champions League Final in Kyiv. He is, however, expected to start, with Alisson not having joined the squad following the World Cup as of now.
Despite the overall head-to-head favoring of Manchester United with 80 wins, 55 draws and 65 loses, manager Jose Mourinho has a worse record against Klopp than any other manager—barring Josep Guardiola of Manchester City.
The game is not only between two legendary clubs, but also between two different footballing philosophies. Klopp’s brand of “heavy-metal football” with its relentless pressing and a free-flowing attack lays in stark contrast to Mourinho’s brand of pragmatic football where his team grinds out results at all costs. Some argue Klopp’s football is more fun, but Mourinho’s trophy cabinet would beg to differ.
Manchester United finished six points ahead of its rival in the Premier League title on the back of conceding 10 less goals, but Liverpool made it to the Champions League final behind Salah’s brilliance and the club's fearsome attack. There is very little to give between these two great sides, and flares are sure to fly every time they meet — even in a pre-season friendly match.
The Big House is no stranger to rivalries. Michigan vs Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame have all been played countless times, be it under the sun or under the lights. Now, it will be the setting for another chapter in the storied rivalry of Manchester United and Liverpool.