2017 International Champions Cup: Can striker-less Manchester United strike lucky?

 

ICC: Manchester United Tickets

26nd July, Landover, US: FC Barcelona vs Manchester United

29th July, Nashville, US: Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur Tickets

 

Can Strikerless Man U Strike Lucky?

Manchester United are one of 16 clubs invited to the 2017 International Champions Cup (ICC) and are one of eight who will partake in the American-leg of the three-location pre-season friendly event.

 

Per the fixture list disclosed so far, the Red Devils are scheduled to play three matches, each of them mouth-watering, which is a rarity even for the ICC, whose invitations are extended only to top clubs.

 

The reason to look forward to United’s all three matches is that not only will they get to lock horns with fellow giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, their third fixture, which for most other clubs in the ICC would be against a random continental opponent, is probably the one they care the most about.

 

Before United take the field opposite Real Madrid at Santa Clara’s Levis Stadium on July 23 and do the same against Barcelona three days later, they will open their ICC campaign with the first-ever Manchester derby on US soil on July 20.

 

And as you might know, there’s never a dull affair when Man United and Man City square up. Not when in one corner sits the hairy, confrontational, anti-football proponent, former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, while in the other technical area stands his polar opposite Pep Guardiola, who unlike the Portuguese is friendly, bald, tiki taka mastermind and former Barcelona boss.

 

The two cannot possibly be anymore unlike each other, and that is what makes this an extremely intriguing affair.

 

This encounter will also provide the opportunity to see both the clubs’ expensive new toys on display for the first time, assuming that United would’ve finalised the deals for at least some of the targets they’re being linked with in the silly season.

 

The pressure is on United because City have already acquired Bernardo Silva from Monaco and made Benfica’s Ederson the second-most expensive goalkeeper of all time. The Brazilian could also turn out to be the most expensive mistake of all time, as brilliant outfielders from Ederson’s country usually are, the jury remains out on their goalies.

 

But apart from the derby, United, as aforementioned, also have matches against Real and Barca. We know what happened the last time Real and United faced each other in the US: a capacity crowd of 109,318 showed up — a record turnout for a football (the real one) match in the country.

 

And while Houston’s NRG Stadium is not big enough to even come close to that figure, what’s certain is that there will not be an empty seat inside the stadium.

 

United are monitoring several of Real’s players, including Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez, meaning the pair’s first game for their new club could be against their former club.

 

Meanwhile, even though Mourinho and Barca’s paths may not cross like they used to, one suspects that their general disdain for each other would come alive again when United and the Catalans collide at FedExField on July 26.

 

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic gone and without a replacement centre forward of the same ilk on their books, it’s tough to envisage Man United winning the 2017 ICC. But then again, if we’ve learned one thing about Mourinho over the years, it’s that his side can never be ruled out in matters of winning.

 

To him, if there’s a win, there’s a way.