Preview: Manchester United vs Roma – Van Gaal’s seventh heaven

by Tom Parker

Manchester United face Roma in their second game of a US pre-season tour as both sides get their International Champions Cup campaigns gets under way in Denver.

United face the Serie A outfit Roma before games against Inter Milan and Real Madrid before a potential final against domestic opponents Manchester City or Liverpool, should the Reds and one of their rivals win their respective groups.

The Reds go into the Roma game full of confidence after a dominant display against LA Galaxy in their first pre-season match. Many have pointed to a lack of quality in the shape of Thursdays opposition but the MLS side’s higher levels of sharpness have to be considered, making the resounding 7-0 thrashing a particularly impressive result.

Manchester United team news

Danny Welbeck opened the scoring last time out in the aforementioned 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy before Wayne Rooney, Reece James and Ashley Young each found the net twice as United secured an impressive win in Louis van Gaal’s first game at the helm.

Van Gaal seemed pleased with the scoreline and the overall performance against the MLS outfit with perhaps the players who didn’t make the scoresheet, namely Juan Mata and Ander Herrera, impressing the most as van Gaal debuted a 3-4-1-2 system.

The Reds could stick with the same shape against Roma with Darren Fletcher continuing to skipper the side. Reece James could push for a starting berth while Javier Hernandez may make his first appearance of the tour after joining up with the squad yesterday.

Roma team news

Like United, the Giallorossi were also victorious in their previous game with Liverpool dispatched in a professional 1-0 victory in Boston, a game in which former Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole made his debut for the Italians.

Roma have strengthed well over the summer with Cole, Seydou Keita and Juan Iturbe already signed up after Rudi Garcia secured an impressive second place finish in his first full season in charge at the Stadio Olimpico.

Perhaps crucially, Roma have so far been able to retain their best players with Miralem Pjanic, Medhi Benatia and Kevin Strootman still at the club despite various reports linking them to an exit. Strootman has recently returned to training but is a way off returning to action.

Key men

Ander Herrera turned in a perfect performance in his first game for the club, displaying intelligence and quality in possession as well as impressive tenacity. His end product was excellent and the former Bilbao man was sublime in the second half playing a number of sublime through balls as United ran riot.

With United in seemingly rich form in front of goal, Medhi Benatia is likely to be a key figure for Roma. The Moroccan was arguably the best centre-half in the Serie A last season as Roma came second and Benatia, who has been linked to Barcelona and United in the past will have to be in top form on Saturday.

Previous meetings

The last meeting between the sides was the famous 7-1 victory at Old Trafford for United, a classic Champions League encounter which saw Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrice Evra on the scoresheet in a scintillating Manchester United performance.

The first leg was marred by fan trouble, while on the pitch Paul Scholes saw red as United lost 2-1 in the Italian capital. Of those involved in the second leg, only Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, Danielle De Rossi and the iconic Francesco Totti remain at their current clubs.


The two sides appear to be pretty evenly matched with United looking very impressive going forward in their last game, while Roma were very stout defensively throughout last season, embarking on a fabulous early season run before Juventus charged to the title.

It will of course be interesting to see how United’s back three fares against what one would assume to be a greater defensive test with Evans, Smalling and Jones having a fairly easy 45 minutes last time out.

Manchester United 1-1 Roma

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