Manchester United take on Real Madrid in the final of the Guinness International Champions Cup in Detroit tonight with the prospect of topping the group and facing Liverpool or Manchester City in Miami on the horizon.
United are unbeaten so far having defeated AS Roma 3-2 in their first game before they dispatched an Inter Milan side including Nemanja Vidic on penalties in a match which the Reds dominated for large periods.
Van Gaal’s side currently sit top of their group and as things stand will meet Liverpool in the Sun Life Stadium in the final. While he has played down the importance of this pre-season tournament, an opportunity to beat a domestic rival before the season starts will be enticing.
Manchester United team news
United used a 3-4-1-2 system against Inter Milan in their most recent outing and a strong display of passing and movement left Van Gaal impressed despite no goals being scored.
Van Gaal is likely to make sweeping changes at half-time against Madrid like he has done so far on tour and Javier Hernandez could play a more prominent role after a 15 minute cameo against Inter.
Rafael has left the tour through injury and won’t be involved while Van Gaal has confirmed Chris Smalling will miss out as an injury precaution.
Real Madrid team news
Champions League winners Madrid fielded a strong side in their surprise defeat against Roma with Gareth Bale, Isco and Luka Modric amongst the starters in an experienced XI.
Carlo Ancelotti has already named his starting XI: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho, Carvajal, Illarramendi, Alonso, Modric, Bale and Isco.
Cristiano Ronaldo will play no part in the match as he is still not fully fit but after a wondergoal against Inter, Bale will be a threat to United’s defence.
Their last meeting was at the knock-out stage of the 2012/13 Champions League. Danny Welbeck’s opener was cancelled out by a powerful Ronaldo header in the Bernabeu before a controversial Nani red card saw the tide turn and Madrid eventually triumphed 2-1 to knock United out of the competition.
Ander Herrera has been quietly efficient so far since a summer move from Bilbao. The Spaniard has plenty of experience facing Madrid and with United’s engine room lacking in recent seasons, this is the sort of game Herrera was bought for.
Luka Modric had an excellent end to the 2013/14 season, an was a key figure in Madrid’s tenth Champions League triumph. Competition for places in Madrid’s midfield has intensified following Toni Kroos’ arrival but the diminutive Croat could once again be a thorn in United’s side.
Prediction: Manchester United 0-0 Real Madrid