Sunday is a treat featuring two of the world’s best encounters: Liverpool hosts Manchester United at Anfield, while the super-classico of Argentina, River Plate – Boca Juniors, will be played this time at the Monumental. Also Sunday, in France Paris Saint Germain travel to Marseille, Istanbul will be in civil war mode for Galatasaray – Fenerbahce, the country’s biggest clubs, and in Brazil the Porto Allegre derby between Gremio and Internacional should be spectacular.
Liverpool – Manchester United
Sunday’s mission for Liverpool truly is massive. The Merseyside club has lost four consecutive matches in all competitions, struggling to find its way without injured Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. For both clubs, this is THE match that cannot be lost regardless of what else is going on. It’s about much more than points, it’s about identity and pride and history. Victory against bitter, eternal rivals Manchester United would relieve enormous pressure on Liverpool and would galvanize the club. It is not a decisive match in terms of Premiership contention, but another loss would open a ten point gap between Liverpool and the leaders, a gap that may soon become insurmountable. Will Gerrard and Torres play? They are both doubtful with groin injuries, as is Glen Johnson, but expect to see all three appearing at least as substitutes. Liverpool supporters are planning big demonstrations against American owners Hicks and Gillett, who have put the club in huge debt and failed to live up to promises made when they bought the club. Hicks in particular is regarded as a loathsome owner with no real love for the club.
Rooney and Fletcher are nursing injuries and may not play, but United is bringing excellent momentum into the game, cranking in all competitions. United will play without pressure, at least at the outset, but losing to Liverpool is never acceptable. The match will be watched by aficionados around the world – both clubs have huge following in Africa and Asia – as well as British ex-pats everywhere.
River Plate – Boca Juniors
The number one sporting event to attend before dying, according to the London Telegraph newspaper, the Argentine “super classico??? happens twice a year, sometimes three with Copa Libertadores. River is going through a miserable season. Having won only once in nine league matches, River supporters have clashed with the players, Gorosito (coach) was replaced with Astrada, and team bosses are struggling to figure a way out. On Sunday there are bigger considerations. Victory in this encounter can make up for a horrible rest of the season put together. Defeat can only be fixed after a long period of humiliation.
“It’s a match apart. It doesn’t matter in what position (in the standings) either side is coming into it, what matters is to beat our eternal rivals,” says River’s Astrada.
Likewise, winning a title but losing along the way to River would be bitter sweet for Boca, who is on the up and up after a mediocre start. Three consecutive wins bred a lot of confidence and reignited title contention aspirations. Boca is now within five points of leader San Lorenzo. Nothing more to be said, this is the match for all of Argentina, but also all of Latin America and around the world.