Finally, the one we've been waiting for. Or the one we're now looking forward to a little bit because Liverpool have to play in it. Maybe just the one we're hoping passes without incident or injury. Whatever it is, it's Manchester United in a (sort of) cup final, and it's likely to be a match with a fair bit of imagined significance attached to it. Overall, though, it's just another piece of Liverpool's preseason preparations, and while it now represents their penultimate fixture before the season starts for real, little matters other than the opportunity for match fitness it will afford.
Part of the added significance comes because of Louis van Gaal, who's leading the most important preseason renaissance in modern times by virtue of not being David Moyes. His tactics and team selections--3-5-2, Tom Cleverley as captain, an Ashley Young robot at left wingback--have energized last season's seventh-place finishers, instantly leading them to the brink of a trophy in the most important preseason club competition that has a final at Sun Life Stadium in Miami tonight.
United have looked slightly more inspired during their US tour, though, and hard as it might be to believe, they'll certainly be better than they were under Moyes. There will be more ass-kicking and name-taking under van Gaal, who's struck a nice balance between spending his time acknowledging that he basically inherited the charred remains of a football club and hugging Wayne Rooney, at least insomuch that hugging Wayne Rooney can represent the opposite end of a spectrum from Moyesian ruin. Also, Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw have arrived this summer, Marouane Fellaini is following Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, and Nemanja Vidic out the exit door, and there's designs on bringing in whichever squad member from the German national team hasn't yet turned down a move. So far the count's at four, but Jogi Low took like, 23 or something to Brazil, so there's options.
Liverpool won't have Daniel Sturridge or Jon Flanagan around, both of whom flew back the UK for treatment with Adam Lallana yesterday. Lazar Markovic stuck around but is still struggling with a tendon problem and has been ruled out again, and Fabio Borini, Daniel Agger, and Tiago Ilori are all back home as well. The rest should be available, and we'll likely see more of the same from Brendan Rodgers in his team selection in terms of tactics and personnel. Not as much tinkering in the win over AC Milan, with 4-3-3 preferred throughout, but still plenty of changes to keep things interesting.
There's also this:
A greasy top guaranteed for tonight's game after another biblical downpour hits Miami.— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) August 4, 2014
So, hopefully there's very little sprinting, sliding, running, jogging, walking, moving, turning, or looking in a different direction quickly at any point.
Kickoff: 1:00AM BST/8:00PM EST
Ways to Watch: Sky Sports 1/SkyGo (UK), Fox Sports One/FoxSoccer2Go (US), LFCTV Go (Online)
Evans Smalling Jones
Valencia Herrera Fletcher Young
Bench: everyone else except Danny Welbeck
Kelly Skrtel Sakho Johnson
Henderson Gerrard Allen
Sterling Lambert Coutinho
Bench: Jones, Toure, Coates, Lucas, Can, Coady, Ibe, Phillips, Robinson, Peterson, Suso