International Champions Cup Final: How Liverpool Will Line Up vs. Man Utd
Liverpool's tour of the USA seems to be grumbling on for what seems like eternity, and their "achievement" in reaching the International Champions Cup Final in Miami on Monday night seems more like a hindrance.
While the underlying reason for Liverpool's tour stateside is commercial, one cannot help feeling that the club's most dull, meaningless games of the campaign ahead aren't the best advert for the Premier League or "soccer."
Nevertheless, it's not completely about the football, and fans have embraced the Reds in Boston, Chicago, New York and Charlotte, before they face Manchester United in Miami on Monday night (8 p.m. ET / 1 a.m. Tuesday BST).
There is of course the added impetus of who Liverpool's opponents are and what it means to each club to beat the other. Can a match between these arch-rivals ever really be "friendly"?
Reds fans will relish silencing their opposite numbers by defeating them so early in Louis van Gaal's tenure, whatever the real importance of the fixture.
Brendan Rodgers will use the game as a glorified training session, knowing full well that pre-season performances don't necessarily equate when it matters. These friendlies seem to make players who simply look interested good.
Here, we attempt to predict Liverpool's final starting line-up of the USA tour.
The Reds are without Jon Flanagan, who was flown back to Merseyside over the weekend to undergo tests on a knee injury.
Simon Mignolet should start in goal to continue his fitness preparations for the new season, while Rodgers may opt to keep the same back four that started the 2-0 victory over AC Milan on Saturday night: Martin Kelly, Kolo Toure, Sebastian Coates and Jack Robinson.
Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson will be waiting eagerly for some game time to boost their fitness.
Jordon Ibe is the standout player of Liverpool's pre-season, and the 18-year-old made another good case for more regular first-team football against Milan.
There's no Adam Lallana, who was on the same injury plane as Flanagan, but Lucas Leiva, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Emre Can will all be keen to play.
Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho may also start with Daniel Sturridge sent home to recover from a hamstring injury.
Fans will hope to catch a glimpse of Serbian international Lazar Markovic, who was kept out of the team on Saturday with a slight knock.
Conor Coady will also be keen for more game time after playing the second half against Milan, while Kristoffer Peterson will also be hungry for the opportunity to impress.
The fine balance between fitness and fatigue is crucial right now, before Liverpool head home for their final pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund at Anfield on Sunday.
Predicted Liverpool XI vs. Man United: Mignolet, Kelly, Toure, Coates, Robinson, Lucas, Henderson, Allen, Lambert, Ibe, Markovic.