Bengaluru, August 2: The much-awaited curtain-raiser of the English domestic football, the FA Community Shield takes place in London on Sunday (August 4).
The Premier League winners usually face the FA Cup winners in this historic game once known as the Charity Shield to kick off the season, but last season Manchester City won both the trophies which means Liverpool being the runners up will play the game.
In recent years, the vibe of the FA Community Shield has somewhat diminished and it is also often referred as a glorified friendly but this season, it has all the ingredients to be a cracker of a game.
Manchester City and Liverpool have been by far the two strongest sides in English football in the last season. City won the domestic treble while Liverpool won the Champions League and finished the Premier League season with just one point fewer than the Cityzens.
Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, arguably the two biggest managers in world football at the moment share a iconic yet sporting rivalry between them and surely neither of them will consider them like a friendly. With the Premier League set to kick off in a week's time, both will look to destroy each other and win their first trophy of the season.
Here are the three key factors that could decide the game:
1. Shaking rustiness off
The pre-season just ended and most of the big players of both teams have been involved in international duties for their countries as well. This game will be a lot about how the managers manage their big players and the lesser players. Liverpool star Sadio Mane is yet to join the team while the likes of Salah, Firmino, Shaqiri, Keita and Alisson just joined the group for the last friendly. Mancheter City, meanwhile, are also facing a similar situation. Youngsters of both teams might be called into action and they have to prove whether they can live up to the occasion or not.
2. Defensive resoluteness:
Liverpool had the best defensive record among the top five leagues in Europe last season but they conceded a lot of goals in their pre-season. Meanwhile, Manchester City have lost their skipper Vincent Kompany in the summer and are yet to replace the legendary skipper in defence. In games like these where neither team is at their best and are not in a rhythm, defensive stability is a must to win the game.
3. Man management:
Well, the prize of this game is big. Just one game and you can start the season with a silverware. Most managers would be tempted to field their best XI in terms of quality in this situation but the more logical choice in this scenario would be to choose the fittest XI. Most big players of both sides had a brief pre-season and less amount of rest. Sending them right away into the mix in such a game could turn out to be a costly decision. So, we could see a few big names rested ahead of the Premier League opener on August 10.