Final Score: Manchester United 4-3 Europe XI.
Manchester United goals: Rooney 2x, Brown, Ronaldo (awesome free kick).
Europe XI goals: Malouda (rifle shot from outside the box, class goal), El-Hadji Diouf 2x (don’t ask why he was playing…)
United were weakened with injuries, and Europe XI were weakened by late withdrawals – the game was half exhibition (first half) and half practice game for United’s 3rd string (second half).
Andy Cole made a cameo appearance for Manchester United, Bolton had a handful of players coming on for Europe XI (nice preview for them a few days ahead of their Saturday visit), so did Liverpool.
Manchester United fans booed Gerrard, Carragher, Zenden and Fowler, which was a shame. Then again, fans are cunts generally, so it wasn’t surprising.
Update: Ronaldinho withdraws from Europe XI squad due to injury
Update: Squads are finalised – full details below
Truth be told, mid-March is an inconvenient time to be playing silly commemoration matches – even if it is for the Manchester United Foundation.
Still, it’s a chance for Manchester United to take on Europe, despite their injuries and despite the fact that old boy David Beckham is injured and will only be in the stands. Manchester United fans would also love to see Alex Ferguson face off against the favourite candidate to succeed him, Marcello Lippi. Too bad I won’t get the chance to to blow my horn about why Beckham still deserves a spot in the England and Manchester United squads, let alone Real Madrid.
Unfortunately, Arsenal and Chelsea players cannot be part of Europe XI due to ‘fixture congestion’ – which basically means that their League Cup final means they’ll be wanting a rest and we won’t see Fabregas, Henry, Lampard, Terry, Cech, Drogba, Shevchenko, Makelele, Carvalho, Toure, Gallas, the Coles, Robben, Lehmann or Fabregas go up against Manchester United.
Manchester United had pledged to field a full team, with Ferguson fully aware that victory in this ‘friendly’ would do wonders for both team morale and club support (not that they needed much boosting, but still). However, injuries have taken their toll and as you’ll see in the squad lists below, there are several big names missing out.
Manchester United vs Europe XI schedule
Tuesday, March 13. I’ll be covering it here.
Coverage on BBC starts at 7:30 pm for those in the UK, and at 11:30 on SuperSport3 for those in Pakistan.
Europe XI Squad
Real Madrid: Iker Casillas
Liverpool: Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher
Lyon: Eric Abidal, Gregory Coupet, Juninho, Malouda
Barcelona: Ronaldinho, Puyol, Zambrotta, Thuram
AC Milan: Maldini, Gattuse, Pirlo, Ronaldo
Helsingborgs: Henrik Larsson
Roma: Alessandro Mancini
Valencia: Luis Miguel
Bayern Munich: Oliver Kahn
Inter Milan: Marco Materazzi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fabio Grosso
Manchester United Squad
Fit Players: Kuszczak, Heaton, Neville, Brown, O’Shea, Heinze, Ronaldo, Giggs, Carrick, Scholes, Rooney, Smith, Dong Fangzhou, Park, Richardson, Eagles.
Could Feature if Fit: Van der Sar, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra.
Further discussion at the Manchester United squad for Europe XI page.