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Alexis leads Man United past Real Madrid; Spurs, Roma win

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The International Champions Cup brought some power matches to the preseason pitch on Wednesday, and two of the three brought some real entertainment.

[ MORE: Modric interested in Inter ]

Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid

Alexis Sanchez’s wonder assist joined his opening goal to make him the easy Man of the Match as Jose Mourinho’s men emerged victorious from Miami Gardens.

Karim Benzema scored for Real Madrid, but the reigning UEFA Champions League victors couldn’t find a second against United’s defense.

Now back to Alexis’ assist. Consider the athleticism involved in nodding this Juan Mata cross into the path of Ander Herrera. Insane.


Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 AC Milan

Georges-Kevin N’Koudou’s early second half hammer in Minneapolis was enough to let Spurs leave the ICC with two wins and a loss in penalties.


Barcelona 2-4 AS Roma

Rafinha gave Barcelona a 1-0 lead before Justin Kluivert fed Stephan El Shaarawy to leave it level at the break in Arlington.

New winger Malcom restored Barca’s lead from an assist courtesy former Montreal Impact man Ballou Tabla, but that was about all she wrote for the Blaugranas. Alessandro Florenzi, Bryan Cristante, and Diego Perotti scored thrice in eight minutes to hand Barca its first loss of the preseason.

Rafinha’s goal was pretty nice, though.

Mourinho hammers Man United squad after another preseason loss

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If you are a Manchester United player currently on preseason tour with the squad, it’s probably best you look away and don’t read on.

Jose Mourinho absolutely slammed his current squad after a 4-1 International Champions Cup loss to Liverpool at the Big House in Michigan, pulling no punches following Manchester United’s second loss of preseason and fourth preseason game without a victory.

First, he was asked about the happiness of Alexis Sanchez at Manchester United with the Chilean star readying for his first full year with the Red Devils. He laid into his players ruthlessly.

“Look, do you want him to be very happy with the players he has around him?” Mourinho asked in his postgame press conference. “We are here just to survive and to have some not very ugly results. Alexis is the only striker we have. And the poor man is there trying his best.”

To be fair, he’s mostly right. The Manchester United squad is quite thin in its current state, with Juan Mata, Eric Bailly, Ander Herrera, and Luke Shaw the only first-teamers in the preseason group. Still, that’s brutal for a player to hear while looking to make a preseason impression on his manager.

“This is not our squad,” Mourinho said. “This is not my squad, this is not even half my squad. This is not even 30 percent of my squad.”

It didn’t stop there. Mourinho pleaded with his World Cup internationals receiving extra breaks to come back.

“I just hope the boys on deserved holidays, they take care of themselves a little bit & somebody wants to do what [Marcus] Rashford & [Phil] Jones do,” Mourinho said, “which is to be back a little bit earlier to try & help the team because for the beginning of the season we are going to be in trouble”

He continued, pulling Liverpool into his wake. “The atmosphere was good but I wouldn’t spend my money to watch these two teams,” he said, an odd comment given that the match was one of the few ICC games that actually produced an enjoyable product.

This isn’t the first time he’s complained about his young, thin preseason squad this summer. In fact, it’s been a repeated mantra for Mourinho over the last few weeks, saying 10 days ago, “I am worried because I am not training with all our players.” Then after a 0-0 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, Mourinho repeated himself saying, “We are not a team. We’re a group of players from different teams.”

Finally, Mourinho was done criticizing his team, but laid into the referees. After a preseason match.

“The referees were called by the baseball federation, they thought it was a baseball game and they had to deal with a soccer game.”

I repeat, this is preseason. Someone get off Jose Mourinho’s lawn.

Saturday friendly preview: Top Premier League teams all in ICC action

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Saturday serves up a jam-packed slate of friendlies as the Premier League opener is less than two short weeks away. Here’s a quick overview of what to watch for as the teams take the field in preparation for the start of the league season.

Arsenal vs Paris Saint-Germain

Unai Emery continues his run-up to his first official match in charge of Arsenal, and the regulars are seeing plenty of the field. In their last International Champions match, a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid precluded a hideous penalty shootout where three of four Gunners to take failed to find the back of the net. Still, the performance was promising as the Gunners held 61% possession and put six shots on target.

Now, Emery takes on his former club as they face off against Thomas Tuchel and PSG. There is a defensive setup to be earned, with Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, and Calum Chambers all battling along with new signing Sokratis for two central defensive spots. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will hope to see their names on the scoresheet as the preseason moves on, held off it in the ICC opener.

Manchester United vs. Liverpool

They say preseason performances mean nothing, but don’t tell that to Jose Mourinho. Manchester United’s preseason has been criticized heavily, with lackluster performances and sluggish buildup have fans worried for the upcoming campaign. One bright spot has been Alexis Sanchez who has looked far more comfortable in a Red Devils shirt than he did following his move last winter.

Another positive has been Ander Herrera, who is excelling in a Jose Mourinho setup. The midfielder has proven solid cover to the defensive back line while also providing dangerous distribution up front.

Meanwhile, Mo Salah did nothing to quiet the excitement for his second season in Liverpool red, scoring just over a minute after coming on as a second half substitute in Liverpool’s comeback ICC win over Manchester City. Virgil Van Dijk also looks every bit the record signing he was, and the Reds look primed for another exciting season. This could be a fun one at the Big House.

Chelsea vs Inter

The Blues have begun their preseason tour of the globe, but they are devoid of significant talent with World Cup performers yet to join the squad. They met Perth Glory in Australia, now face Inter in France, and then head to Dublin to play Arsenal in a true trip around the globe.

Maurizio Sarri has plenty of work to do, but a positive has been new signing Jorginho, who came over from Napoli alongside his boss. Cesc Fabregas also looked sharp against Perth Glory, but Kurt Zouma is injured and remains in London.

Bayern Munich vs Manchester City

Man City makes its third and final appearance in the ICC after a pair of losses to Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund. Like Chelsea, the City preseason squad is ravaged by World Cup participants, left with a youthful group of backups. New signing Riyad Mahrez was on hand to start and play 74 minutes in the loss to Liverpool, Leroy Sane came on in the second half to score a goal, and former Chicago Fire and NYCFC striker Jack Harrison showed well. Otherwise, there is little of note in the City squad besides a chance for Bernardo Silva, Patrick Roberts, and Phil Foden to get some minutes in a bid to impress and earn first-team minutes this season.

Barcelona vs Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs heads to the Rose Bowl to take on Barcelona in ICC action. The La Liga giants receive their first preseason action, and in the squad is new signing Malcom.

For Mauricio Pochettino, he has a somewhat strong squad in the United States, but they are devoid of just the English stars that reached the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup and still giving fringe players plenty of chances to impress. Christian Eriksen is in tow despite his appearance in Russia this summer, and American defender Cameron Carter-Vickers is seeing significant time at the back. Midfielder Lucas Moura is hoping to give Pochettino something to think about, scoring a brace in the 4-1 win over Roma last time out and looking to compete with Eriksen and Dele Alli for midfield playing time. Serge Aurier is also receiving important minutes as he returns from a serious knee injury and hopes to compete with World Cup hero Kieran Trippier.

Leicester City vs. Udinese

The only Premier League team in action Saturday outside of the ICC, Leicester City meets Italian side Udinese in Austria’s Worthersee Stadion. The players are dealing with serious heat and humidity in central Europe, and they all have to play sidekicks to Austrian international Christian Fuchs who has drawn significant attention on their preseason tour. Still, the squad is strong, with World Cup participants such as Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried Ndidi now with the team and participating in full training, set to see time in the match.

Mourinho on Man United: ‘We are not a team’

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Manchester United drew 0-0 with the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer on Sunday and it’s safe to say Jose Mourinho didn’t seem impressed.

The stalemate at Levi’s Stadium continued Mourinho’s theme of complaining about the players he doesn’t have at his disposal as many are still on a break after the World Cup and won’t link up with United until they return to the UK ahead of the Premier League season starting on August 10.

Speaking to MUTV after the game, Mourinho had the following to say on United’s second consecutive draw after their 1-1 result against Liga MC side Club America on Thursday.

“We are not a team. We’re a group of players from different teams,” Mourinho said. “Some are first-team, some under-23s, some coming from loans and going on loan, some are younger, under-18s. We don’t have a team to play much better than we did but [it’s] one more training session.”

That assessment is fair enough, preseason is about practice rather than results, but these sessions are about to step up with games against AC Milan, Liverpool and Real Madrid in the next week.

Mourinho still has the likes of Juan Mata, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Ander Herrera and now Alexis Sanchez on tour after the latter sorted out a visa issue. Hardly just the U-18 team.

He’s missing Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Maraoune Fellaini, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford and Victor Lindelof after their deep runs at the World Cup this summer, plus David De Gea, Marcos Rojo and new signing Fred. So, he does have a point about United’s options being depleted for preseason.

But he’s known this would be the case for months and the likes of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City seems delighted to give youngsters a chance rather than focus on all of his stars who won’t return until right at the start of the PL season.

If United have a slow start to the PL campaign, I wonder what Mourinho will point to as the main reason for that…

Manchester United draws Club America 1-1 on Mata goal

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Manchester United began Jose Mourinho’s “very bad” preseason with a drab 1-1 draw against Liga MX side Club America.

Juan Mata hit the post in the opening 20 minutes and later scored the equalizer in the 78th minute after Ander Herrera‘s header rebounded off the crossbar and right into the Spaniard’s lap. Mata then put his shot through the goalkeeper’s legs and in for the only goal for the Red Devils.

With many players receiving extra rest after participating in the 2018 World Cup, Manchester United is utilizing a bit-part roster for much of the preseason which includes five matches in the United States. Regulars Mata, Herrera, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, and Antonio Valencia were all included in the starting lineup, but they were joined by a smattering of relative unknowns.

35-year-old journeyman goalkeeper Lee Grant played the first 45 minutes between the sticks, replaced in the second half by 22-year-old Joel Peirera. 22-year-old midfielder Andreas Pereira played the full 90 minutes in midfield, while 21-year-old winger Demetri Mitchell saw his name listed among the starters along with Scott McTominay, who suffered a nasty looking head injury late in the match on an overhead kick attempt.

16-year-old Mason Greenwood got a few minutes towards the end, with Mourinho hoping to get a quick look at the club’s U-18 leading scorer. Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Alex Tuanzebe also both came off the bench to participate, as did 18-year-old former Feyenoord youth product Tahith Chong who was impressive during his second-half appearance.

While Manchester United held a slight majority in possession, Club America out-shot the Premier League giants 15-10, however the Liga MX side could only manage to put four of those on target.