Sunday, August 7, 2022

Haaland and Nunez make their competitive debuts as Man City and Liverpool contest Community Shield

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Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are expected to unleash their summer signings when the Premier League title rivals go head-to-head at the King Power

Pep Guardiola’s men are set to renew their rivalry with Jurgen Klopp’s side from the start of the new season, with City playing in that game due to last season’s Premier League win and the Reds involved thanks to their FA Cup triumph over Chelsea becomes.

Manchester City take on Liverpool at the King Power Stadium in Leicester this weekend in the traditional opener of English football, the Community Shield.

The game would normally be played at Wembley, but the National Stadium will be used for the 2022 Women’s EURO final between England and Germany, meaning both sides will travel to the East Midlands instead.

Whether fans see it as a legitimate trophy or a glorified friendly, one thing is certain: whichever team wins will have gained a psychological advantage over their opponent before the Premier League season has even started.

Manchester City’s pre-season consisted of just two friendlies compared to Liverpool’s four, meaning Guardiola has had less time to assess the fitness and dexterity of his squad so far this summer compared to Klopp.

But Erling Haaland has already managed to score his first goal for the club, slipping in from the six-yard box in the 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in Wisconsin to complete a smart move.

In their previous game, Kevin De Bruyne scored twice as City beat Mexico’s Club America in Houston.

Liverpool meanwhile embarked on both a tour of Asia and a training camp in Austria as Klopp split his pre-season preparations in two.

The Reds were beaten 4-0 by Manchester United in Thailand in the opening game of their summer before beating Crystal Palace 2-0 in Singapore.

They then beat RB Leipzig 5-0 in Germany, with newcomer Darwin Nunez scoring four goals, before losing 1-0 to RB Salzburg on Thursday.

City have a full midfield and attacking choice, with Guardiola’s most intriguing decision being whether to start Haaland or bring him off the bench.

With a plethora of talented and versatile players capable of playing in a variety of positions, questioning Guardiola’s selection is a near-impossible task.

In defence, Aymeric Laporte is missing after suffering a ligament injury at the end of last season, while John Stones also missed the club’s pre-season tour. That means the returning Ruben Dias will likely partner Nathan Ake in the middle of the back line.

Liverpool will be without both their first and second goalkeepers as both Alisson Becker and Caoimhin Kelleher suffer from light hits in the build-up to the game. That means former West Ham stopper Adrian will start in goal.

At the top, Diogo Jota suffered a hamstring injury last season and is set to miss the opening weeks of the season, meaning either Nunez or the stalwart Roberto Firmino will lead the charge. The Brazilian’s experience in the Liverpool system is likely to give him the upper hand early in the season.

Left-back Kostas Tsimikas is also one-shot doubtful and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss after picking up a hamstring injury in the Crystal Palace win.

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Wanderer, Dias, Ake, Cancella; Rodri, Bernard, of Bruyne; Mahrez, Haland, Fuss.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Nunez, Diaz.

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