International Champions Cup Final: How Manchester United Will Line Up

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International Champions Cup Final: How Manchester United Will Line Up
Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Manchester United's successful tour of the United States culminates in the International Champions Cup final clash with Liverpool.

Being a pre-season tournament, there is no genuine sporting glory up for grabs, in spite of the grandiose name. However, for United fans there is more at stake than there would have been had the opponents not been Liverpool.

The enmity between the two sets of supporters runs deep, and defeat to Liverpool is never palatable, even in a friendly.

Louis van Gaal's pre-season has been a great success so far. United are undefeated, having played some very high-quality opponents.

While it is always dangerous to read too much into the results of friendly clashes, it is the style of play that has been so exciting. With lovely, flowing passing moves on show, United fans are optimistic that "good football" will be back at Old Trafford this season.

Beating Liverpool would help to maximise the sense of new-season optimism. Van Gaal has experimented with his team throughout the tour, giving squad players plenty of chances. However, the game against Real Madrid was the first in which he did not make wholesale changes at half-time.

That may have been part of a match-fitness programme, but perhaps Van Gaal was also keen to see United progress to the final and thus wanted to minimise disruption.

Speaking ahead of the Liverpool game, Van Gaal said, per the club's website, "a lot of players will probably play 90 minutes because it’s the last time we can do that." 

It would be a surprise not to see David de Gea reprise the 90 minutes he played against Real Madrid. Van Gaal knows De Gea has adequate deputies, but there is no genuine competition for the position.

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Chris Smalling was unavailable for selection against Madrid through injury. It seems unlikely that Van Gaal will gamble on his fitness for a friendly. Assuming that Jonny Evans and Phil Jones are automatic selections, there is one place up for grabs between Tyler Blackett and Michael Keane.

Keane made an error in conceding the penalty to Gareth Bale, but there is no great shame in being outfoxed by Bale, and Keane will hopefully learn from the experience. Blackett has been an effective presence throughout pre-season.

Depending on who, if anyone, arrives at Old Trafford in the coming weeks, the two youngsters may find themselves with an important role to play in the season ahead. My guess would be that Blackett will start this game alongside Evans and Jones.

Duane Burleson/Getty Images

At wing-back, Van Gaal has said, again, per the club's website, "Young will play 90 minutes if he can do the job; if he can't do the job, maybe 10 or 20 minutes less." The much-maligned former Villa man was superb against Madrid.

It will be interesting to see if he plays the full game on the left-flank or switches once Antonio Valencia, the probable selection at right wing-back, is substituted. This would allow Luke Shaw some minutes at left wing-back.

In midfield, Ander Herrera and Darren Fletcher continued their impressive showing together with a fine display against Madrid. Fletcher has played 90 minutes in the past two games, and has been highly effective. I would expect to see them both start this game.

Tom Cleverley remains the only other central-midfield option in the squad. While he has not had a poor tour, he has looked a step below Fletcher.

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Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck have started all four games on tour, but the trio may well be disrupted following the injury Welbeck suffered against Madrid. I would personally like to see Van Gaal take this opportunity to experiment with having Mata and Shinji Kagawa on the pitch together, playing behind Rooney.

However, it seems much more likely that he will play Rooney and Javier Hernandez in front of of Mata.

This is my guess at a starting XI. As always, feel free to share yours in the comments.

De Gea, Evans, Jones, Blackett, Young, Valencia, Herrera, Fletcher, Mata, Rooney, Hernandez.

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