July 20, 2018

International Champions Cup Match Previews – 21st July Saturday


Clash of European Giants

Two of Europe’s most formidable teams will meet at ICC, the world’s biggest summer club off-season tournament. The match will be part of the clubs’ preparations to defend their respective titles (Bayern Munich: Bundesliga, PSG: Ligue 1) come opening on August. This is Niko Kovac’s debut on Bayern sidelines since being announced as the man to replace veteran Jupp Heynckes. After World Cup stints, players Rodriguez, Tolisso, and Muller are to miss the bill. But Kovac can still field a sturdy side against PSG. Winger Arjen Robben and midfielder Arturo Vidal are among those called up to lead the line for the Bavarians. On their end, the French champs won’t have star attackers Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

Former Croatia captain Kovac has also represented Die Bayern as a player (51 times, 2001 to 2003). Before being given new reins, he helped transform Eintracht Frankfurt. The club now remarkably sits at 8th place in the table with 14 wins after relegation scares. There’s question in the system Kovac will use in the coming season. He has a back three preference and typically uses 3-4-2-1 formation, while Bayern worked with a back four under Heynckes. Will he continue the tactical methods devised by Heynckes or will he apply a counter-attacking style, one that has done him well at Frankfurt?

Sven Ulreich will likely still be Bayern’s No. 1. He has saved 62 shots and only conceded 26 goals when he stood in for the injured Manuel Neuer. Gianluigi Buffon, on the other hand, has a horrid PSG debut to bury. Italy’s goalkeeping legend gave away a fifth-minute penalty followed by another goal before being substituted in their 4-2 home loss against third-tier FC Chambly. This manner of pre-season defeat can be quite alarming.
Bayern and PSG have faced on eight occasions with the French winning five. PSG’s last six stands at two wins, 2 losses, and 2 draws. Bayern’s is at 2 wins, 1 draw, and 3 losses (the last one was under Kovac’s Frankfurt team 1-3 at German DFB Cup Final.)

Bayern v PSG showdown will happen at Worthersee Stadion at Klagenfurt, Austria 14:30 (UTC/GMT +1). Top Asian handicap tipsters have Bayern Munich as the stronger team ahead of the clash.


Teams on a Mission

The 75,000-seater Bank of America Stadium in North Carolina will be host for the ICC duel of two high-scoring clubs Liverpool and Dortmund. They have netted close to 150 goals in the last season, with the Reds getting in the top ten across Europe’s major leagues at 2.2 goals per game. Both are also known for their free-flow football attacks.

New recruits Abdou Diallo and Marius Wolf will be part of BVB’s travelling squad. Jadon Sancho is also expected to make an appearance. Thomas Delaney will be joining in after a respite following Denmark’s World Cup run.
Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Roberto Firmino will miss this USA trip. The forward will go straight to a training camp in France; while Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane won’t also feature for Liverpool until final ICC game against Manchester United. Summer signings Fabinho Tavares and Naby Keita are to likely play against Dortmund, while Loris Karius will assume role between the sticks despite blunders in the Champions League final. The Reds’ goalkeeper curse will also be challenged after the expensive acquisition of Brazilian goalie Alisson Becker. Salah is surely thrilled for their reunion.

US soccer megastar Christian Pulisic will be in Dortmund’s XI and he’s a major threat to Liverpool. The teenage sensation is being linked to a number of Premier League clubs and elsewhere. He is one of the most high-performing wide forwards in Europe, collecting 2.99 take-ons with 1.01 key passes last season. His positions have him involved in chances worth 0.48 goals per 90 minutes. The American will return to his homeland for the second time in three months when they fly across the Atlantic for ICC. Irony is, it was Klopp who first hailed Pulisic to Dortmund first-team. The explosive winger caught the manager’s eye when he was playing in the under-19.

Tactician Jurgen Klopp has a win percentage of 52.6% and he is the mastermind behind Liverpool’s fearsome attacking trio. During his time in BVB, he has guided the club to two Bundesliga, a DFB Cup, and a Champions League final appearance. This will be the third time he will face former employees at Westfalstadion. He is yet to win a trophy at Anfield, but he has already taken the sleeping giants to new heights. Klopp has led the team to three finals in three seasons, narrowly missing out on the Champions League title against Real Madrid. His men will be hoping to get a silverware, the coveted Premier League title come August.

The Black and Yellows are also aiming to give Bayern Munich some heated competition and finish better than third place in Bundesliga table. They got dropped out early in the Champions League and they’re off to give better performances.

This Liverpool v Dortmund friendly is certain to be intriguing as both clubs are determined to have a winning season.

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