Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United will take on Real Madrid at Michigan Stadium in the eleventh match of the 2014 International Champions Cup. The pre-season tournament will showcase some of the best talent from the 10-time European Cup winners, up against a United side in full rebuild mode. The format this year consists of two groups of four in a round-robin. Each team will play a total of three matches in group play and the two group leaders face off on 04 August in the final at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
To Win (90mins)
Real Madrid 1/1
Manchester United 26/10
Real Madrid suffered defeat to Inter Milan in their first International Champions Cup match last Saturday in California, succumbing 3-2 on penalties to the Italian outfit after the sides were left deadlocked at 1-1 following the conclusion of 90 minutes. Despite Saturday’s encounter with Inter representing a rather low-key outing for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, it was clear from the opening minutes that a number of Los Blancos’ stars were keen to impress the manager in the team’s opening pre-season appearance. It seemed telling that Ancelotti opted for a 4-2-3-1 system for the match, allowing Isco the full ninety minutes to demonstrate his ability as the creative hub of the team’s midfield. The young Spaniard put on a bright display, linking up with Gareth Bale nicely and operating between the lines for Los Blancos in attack. His movement and trickery will cause United’s defence all kinds of problems. Due to the disruption of the summer World Cup in Brazil, Madrid will be without several of their big stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo and new signings James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos.
Louis van Gaal has been victorious in his first two matches as Manchester United coach with wins over LA Galaxy and Roma. The Red Devils have played an exciting brand of football—scoring ten goals in 180 minutes on their tour of the USA. But it is clear that Van Gaal will need to strengthen further as he builds his team around a 5-3-2 formation. The Red Devils looked very comfortable in the new formation. There was a fluency in their play that was missing during much of last season. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Van Gaal’s starting XI was that Antonio Valencia began as a wing-back on the right-hand side. He’s played in defence before, but this new role allowed him to hug the touchline and provide much of the natural width. It also ensured that he was always covered when making his bursting runs down the flank. Arguably, it’s the best position for him. There are very few players who will be adversely affected by Van Gaal’s introduction of a 5-3-2 system. In fact, most will flourish in a for
mation based upon technical, passing football that brings fluidity and versatility.
VERDICT: Manchester United 26/10
Manchester United have been outstanding under Louis van Gaal, winning their first two games while Real Madrid struggled against Inter Milan. With Los Blancos missing some key players, United will look to take full advantage and are tipped for the win.