Hello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text commentary of Manchester United
's pre-season friendly against Real Madrid
. It's just over 30 minutes until kick off at Michigan Stadium, so let's take a look at how the two teams line up...
MANCHESTER UNITED XI: De Gea, M Keane, Jones, Evans, Valencia, Herrera, Fletcher, Young, Mata, Rooney, Welbeck
REAL MADRID XI: Casillas, Arbeloa, Nacho, Pepe, Ramos, Carvajal, Illarramendi, Alonso, Modric, Bale, Isco
So a strong looking team fielded by Louis van Gaal
for this pre-season friendly. Wayne Rooney
and Danny Welbeck lead the attack for the Red Devils, while Juan Mata will presumably play just behind the English pair. The new United manager has also opted to play three at the back once more with Ashley Young
and Antonio Valencia in wing-back roles. Darren Fletcher captains the side once more.
It's an equally strong looking Real Madrid team, too. Carlo Ancelotti is still without Cristiano Ronaldo among his starters, meaning an opportunity for Welshman Gareth Bale
to shine. Iker Casillas, who was dropped to the bench in the league last season, begins the game between the sticks for the Spanish side.
A record attendance for a football - or should that be soccer?! - match in the United States is expected for tonight's match between the European heavyweights - an incredible 109,000 supporters.
As ever, the main priority of pre-season friendlies such as tonight's match is to get players up and running ahead of what is sure to be a gruelling campaign. This tour of America has taken on added importance for new United manager Van Gaal, however, as he looks to get a better understanding of his players before the real test begins on August 16.
Earlier tonight Inter Milan beat Roma 2-0, meaning that a draw will be enough to see United reach the final of the International Champions Cup. Madrid on the other hand cannot progress through Group A following their defeat at the hands of Roma last time out.
The Michigan Stadium is nicknamed 'The Big House' by locals - I wonder why?
Man United supporters will be more eager than ever for the new season to get underway following what was nothing short of a disastrous campaign under David Moyes last time out. English football's most successful club went from champions to chumps in the space of 12 months, finishing the season in seventh place. Tonight presents another opportunity to step up preparations ahead of the season opener against Swansea in two weeks' time.
All that looks set to change under Van Gaal if the early signs are anything to go by, and with the luxury of having no Europa League football next season, all attention can be focused on the main target of climbing back up the Premier League table.
If it wasn't for Sergio Ramos's late equaliser against arch-rivals Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final in May – and the subsequent victory in extra time – then last season would have been a disaster for Carlo Ancelotti. Having seen Atleti win the league title, the red and white half of Madrid were just seconds away from a glorious double, but Los Blancos prevailed to win La Decima – their much-coveted 10th European crown.
It was very much job done for Carlo Ancelotti, although this time around you get the impression that the league title must be clawed back from Atletico and an improved Barcelona side. They still have a few weeks to go until their league campaign gets underway, although the Super Cup meeting with Sevilla in 10 days' time will provide Madrid with their first real competitive action of the new season.
PREDICTION: We're now just under five minutes away from kick off, and the American national anthem has been belted out to get supporters ready for this huge occasion. As the sides enter the field it's time to make a score prediction. United have just one more friendly after this game should they fail to make it through to the final of the pre-season tournament, so you feel at this stage they will have the edge over the La Liga side. I'll go with 3-1 to Man United.
KICKOFF! Seven Nation Army belts around this incredible stadium as Real Madrid get us underway.
As expected, United have gone with a back three for tonight's friendly, while Madrid are essentially strikerless allowing Bale to drift across the front. Both sides are getting a feel of the ball in the opening stages, but no real chances to report as of yet. Rooney looked to play Welbeck through on goal, but his pass was cut out by Nacho.
Ander Herrera was picked out on the edge of the area and it looked as though he was going to unleash a strike at goal, but a heavy first touch meant the opportunity for the game's first shot didn't arise.
United are nicely spreading the ball across the pitch in these early stages, with Valencia and Young the men tasked with providing width. Welbeck is playing in the most advanced role, but the wingers have yet to pick him out.
Real Madrid are pushing high up the pitch to stop the Red Devils passing the ball around at the back. Bale is the man leading the chasing with his tireless work ethic.
SHOT! Fletcher picks out Mata on the run with a fine pass from inside his own half which holds up nicely for the Spaniard in the opposition box, but he could only work a corner from the chance. The resulting corner kick fell to Fletcher outside the box, but his shot is dragged wide.
Van Gaal has clearly instructed his players to use the whole pitch. As well as looking towards Valencia and Young, Rooney is also drifting out wide. United could very well expose the Madrid full-backs as this game unfolds.
GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 1-0 REAL MADRID (Young)
What an incredible team goal from Manchester United! Fletcher's gliding runs through the middle have been a key feature in these opening stages, and he started the attack which ended up with the ball in the back of the net following no less than 20 passes! Rooney returned the ball to Fletcher on the edge of the box with a back heel; the United skipper picked out Welbeck who then knocked it on to Young to tuck the ball away. A special goal!
PENALTY TO REAL MADRID!
Bale has been quiet when on the ball so far, but he finally gets in a one-on-one position with United's inexperienced defender Michael Keane, who grapples the Welshman to the floor.
GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 1-1 REAL MADRID (BALE)
Bale brushes himself down to slot the spot kick away into the bottom-right corner. Instant response from Los Blancos against the run of play which cancels out United's sublime opener.
YELLOW CARD! Well I said Man United could expose the La Liga side's centre-backs, and after Young knocked the ball past Alvaro Arbeloa, the Spaniard cynically pulled the former Aston Villa man down to the ground. Arbeloa will have to be careful now.
SHOT! Van Gaal's side had the better of the opening 25 minutes or so, which culminated in that opening Young goal, but Madrid are starting to grow more into the game now, and they very nearly took the lead. The ball came into the box from the left-hand side and Bale unleashed an overhead kick which was executed perfectly from 12-yards out, but David de Gea handles it well. Unlucky from the former Spurs man!
GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 2-1 REAL MADRID (YOUNG)
Sorry Madrid fans, but I've seemingly cursed your side. Los Blancos had grown into the game, but Young has added his second goal to put the Premier League outfit back ahead. He swung a bending cross towards Rooney with the ball catching Casillas out and going right the way through. Rooney is claiming it, but the replays have confirmed that he didn't get a touch on the ball - or at least it was a very, very minimal touch. Sorry, Wayne.
MANCHESTER UNITED SUBSTITUTION: Worrying sign for Man United as Welbeck leaves the field. He was hobbling around and was taken straight off by Van Gaal, meaning that Wilfried Zaha has another chance to impress.
Zaha looks as though he's playing in his more familiar wide role, but Young has also remained out on the left. The former Crystal Palace player said this week that he sees himself playing as a forward, so maybe he will get his chance to do so in the second half.
SHOT! United win a free kick within shooting range, but Rooney opts to dink the ball over the wall to Mata who caught the Madrid defence out, but his strike on the volley was wide from 10-yards out.
HALF TIME: MANCHESTER UNITED 2-1 REAL MADRID
Well that Mata chance was the last meaningful action of the half as the referee signals the end of the first 45 minutes. An entertaining game so far which is still far from over.
United's opening goal summed up everything Van Gaal is trying to instil in his players; drive from midfield, slick interplay, movement out wide, and players getting forward into the box. One of the finest team goals you will see anywhere this season.
Madrid were struggling to create any openings before the goal, but as soon as Bale managed to work a one-on-one position with Keane he won his side a penalty which he tucked away. The Old Trafford outfit showed their character by taking the lead once more, however, and although the goal has been awarded to Rooney by the PA announcers inside the stadium, it was almost certainly Young who found the net.
Incidentally, the last time these two sides met was back in 2013 when Real Madrid edged out United 3-2 on aggregate in the last 16 of the Champions League. That was just one of many memorable meetings between the two, but one that particularly sticks in the mind is the 2003 clash – again in the Champions League – when Brazilian striker Ronaldo struck a hat-trick at Old Trafford before receiving a standing ovation from United supporters.
A sight to behold as the Michigan Stadium hosts its first ever soccer game.
United's cross-city rivals Manchester City are also competing in the International Champions Cup, and they have played out a 2-2 with Olympiacos in Minneapolis tonight, meaning a penalty shootout is required to determine the winner. You can follow live commentary of that game by clicking here
KICKOFF: We're back underway in Michigan. United made three changes at the interval with Shaw, Blackett and Cleverley replacing Young, Blackett and Herrera.
SHOT! Bad news United fans - Bale looks in goalscoring mood early on in this second half. He brilliantly worked his way past Keane before selflessly picking out Isco whose deflected effort was well handled by De Gea.
Man United are looking to work space in the attacking third, and they very nearly made an opening when Rooney played Zaha in down the right. The winger frustratingly lost the ball, however, and the attack died out.
Shaw brings down Arbeloa, but worryingly Alonso is currently down seemingly holding his knee. Madrid surely won't risk the midfielder if there's even the slightest of knocks.
OFF THE POST! The referee awarded a free kick to Madrid for Shaw's challenge, and Bale's subsequent effort came back off the outside of the post from 25 yards. It was a decent effort from the Wales international, although De Gea looked to have it covered.
UPDATE! Manchester City have been defeated 5-4 on penalties in their ICC encounter with Olympiacos. It puts an end to a potential Manchester derby in the final on Monday. As a result Liverpool will now play in the Florida final.
CHANCE! Great chance for Pepe who rather lashed at the ball inside the area following a corner kick. It was a real opportunity for the defender, but he was unable to keep his composure.
SUBSTITUTIONS! As expected, Alonso will play no more part in this friendly. The hour-mark also signals a triple substitution for the Red Devils as Valencia, Rooney and Mata are replaced by Lingard, Hernandez and Kagawa.
This is something I didn't think I'd ever say: Manchester United have missed Ashley Young in this second half! The game has gone rather flat.
YELLOW CARD! Don't expect the game to remain flat much longer; Cristiano Ronaldo appears to be intensifying his warm-up pitchside. The world's best player has the ability to light up any fixture - he'll need no extra motivation against his former club. Meanwhile, Isco is shown a yellow card for his foul on Lingard.
CHANCE! Raul de Tomas gets on the end of Bale's inch-perfect cross in the centre of the penalty area, but he heads over the bar. The youngster really should have done better there! Still 2-1 heading into the final quarter of the game.
CHANCES! Shinji Kagawa finds Hernandez with a superb clipped pass over the top, and the Mexican striker manages to get a shot away which is well kept out by Casillas. Moments later Luke Shaw picked out Tom Cleverley whose strike was once more well dealt with by the Spanish stopper.
SUBSTITUTION! Ronaldo enters the fray. A deafening roar from 109,000 excited football supporters welcomes the former Manchester United man. He has 15 minutes to make his mark.
CHANCE! A superb low cross into the box from Lingard is calling out for a United player to tuck it away, and Hernandez nearly gets a toe on the ball from four yards out but it passes straight through for a goal kick.
GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 3-1 REAL MADRID (HERNANDEZ)
Well that is surely game over now. Another well worked United goal, this time more direct as Fletcher picks out Kagawa, who floats a lovely pass to Hernandez at the back post. Chicharito showed real bravery to get his head to the ball ahead of Casillas to add United's third of the night.
SHOT! Another chance carved out by Lingard down the right as he picks out Zaha at the back post. The 21-year-old struck the ball on the volley, but the angle proved too tight and he failed to find the target.
Ronaldo works a one-on-one position with Tyler Blackett and there was only ever going to be one winner - Blackett! The inexperienced defender keeps his eyes on the ball and not Ronaldo's feet to concede a corner.
Fletcher has been key for Man United tonight, but his night nearly comes to an abrupt end. He was caught late and looked in some discomfort, although he's now back on his feet.
FULL TIME: MANCHESTER UNITED 3-1 REAL MADRID
Manchester United have booked their place in the final of the International Champions Cup. It was a solid display for the Red Devils having been pegged back in the first half, but they showed character, grit and even some bravery to pull ahead and win the friendly 3-1.
They will now face Liverpool in Florida's Sun Life Stadium on Monday - a tasty meeting between the two most successful clubs in English football.
Following that game United take on Valencia at Old Trafford before getting their season underway at home to Swansea. Madrid on the other hand head to Cardiff for the European Super Cup against fellow La Liga side Sevilla. The European champions didn't look quite as sharp as their opponents in Michigan tonight, but it must be remembered that they are further behind in their pre-season preparations.
That concludes the live text commentary for this game. Stick around on Sports Mole
for a full match report and reaction, while you can also follow Liverpool's International Champions Cup encounter with AC Milan by clicking here