European heavyweights Liverpool and AC Milan come face to face in Game 9 of the 2016 International Champions Cup on Saturday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
In a repeat of the unforgettable 2005 UEFA Champions League final, both sides will be hoping for a strong performance and result as their pre-season exertions continue in the United States.
The Italians recorded a penalty-shootout victory over Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in their first match of the friendly tournament, while the Reds lost 1-0 to domestic rivals Chelsea.
Neither Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool nor Milan's Vincenzo Montella are expected to name a full-strength XI for the clash, with teams aiming to improve match fitness over results.
Date: Saturday, July 30
Time: 3 a.m. BST (Sunday) / 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PDT
Venue: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
TV Info: LFCTV, ESPN
Liverpool lost to English opponents Chelsea last time out at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in a feisty encounter. Beaten by a Gary Cahill header scored after just 10 minutes, Klopp's side improved after falling behind; however, the German coach will not have been impressed by conceding so early on in the contest.
Cahill, featuring in his first match since England's humiliating early exit at the hands of Iceland during UEFA Euro 2016, climbed high over Marko Grujic to meet Cesc Fabregas' inswinging corner and find the bottom of the net.
The Merseysiders grew into the contest—aided by the attacking intent and directness from £34 million summer signing Sadio Mane. Per Matt Barlow of MailOnline, the former Southampton winger's pace forced his boss to lift his hands over his head in applause, such was his delight at watching the Senegalese attacker in full flight.
Brazil forward Roberto Firmino, hoping to enjoy a productive time in the United States ahead of his second season in English football, also had a goal chalked off in the first half after the linesman raised his flag for offside.
Klopp has a wealth of attacking and midfield options to choose from this season following a proactive foray into the transfer market during the summer break. The arrival of Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle United have added stronger depth to the core of the club, and Klopp may be eager to test out his potential first-team choices against his upcoming Serie A opponents.
Klopp discussed his views on Liverpool's transfer budget with ESPN:
Meanwhile, Sky Sports News HQ examined where Liverpool's money has been spent in recent years:
For Milan, the tempestuous past few seasons at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza have been ones to forget. Per StatBunker.com, the Rossoneri finished eighth, 10th and seventh in the previous three Serie A campaigns, with perennial rivals Juventus picking up the last five league titles.
Off-pitch matters have largely been an embarrassment, too. Club president Silvio Berlusconi and his board members have been scattergun in their approach to managerial appointments and even more trigger-happy when it comes to relieving them of their duties.
Per Ogo Sylla of La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milan have rifled through a contingent of former players in a failed bid to find their own Pep Guardiola—Barcelona's legendary coach who was appointed from within following a successful playing career with the Catalan club.
The Italians have failed to replicate this organic method, instead appointing and sacking Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi, Sinisa Mihajlovic and Cristian Brocchi before plumping for Montella in July.
The former Sampdoria and Fiorentina coach believes he is learning more about his Milan side every time he watches them play, per the club's official account:
Milan forced penalties against Bayern in their first outing in the competition following a 3-3 draw in normal time. M'Baye Niang looked bulkier and more confident in front of goal compared to this time last year and opened the scoring impressively after latching on to a loose ball.
Per OptaPaolo, the French youngster had an important role to play against Bayern:
Despite conceding late on to force a dramatic shootout, the San Siro club will be pleased with their performance last time out—and buoyed by getting one over on former head coach Carlo Ancelotti, who is now in charge in Munich.
Per fussball.wettpoint.com, Saturday's tie will be just the third meeting between Liverpool and Milan since the famous night in Istanbul 11 years earlier. With Milan three goals ahead at half-time, there appeared no return for then-manager Rafael Benitez's troops, but they fought back to secure a historic trophy following a memorable penalty shootout in Turkey.
Drama like that shouldn't be expected when Milan and Liverpool meet again in America, but both teams should appreciate the narrative to the contest when they come face to face in the 2016 ICC.