Manchester Derby: A Historic Rivalry with a New Twist

Manchester Derby A Historic Rivalry with a New Twist

Manchester United and Manchester City will make history on Saturday as they face off in the FA Cup final for the first time ever.

The two teams have been the dominant forces in English football in recent years, but only one can claim the oldest trophy in the world at Wembley.

Article Contents

How they got here

United booked their place in the final by defeating Liverpool, West Ham, Leicester and Southampton, scoring 12 goals and letting in only three. Bruno Fernandes has been their standout player, with five goals and three assists in the competition. The Portuguese wizard scored a brilliant free-kick to secure a 3-1 win over Liverpool in the fourth round and a late penalty to sneak past Leicester in the quarter-finals.

City had a harder path to the final, beating Birmingham, Cheltenham, Swansea, Everton and Chelsea, scoring 15 goals and conceding four. They needed late goals from Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan to overcome a resilient Cheltenham side in the fourth round and a superb strike from Kevin De Bruyne to beat Chelsea in the semi-finals. Erling Haaland has been their top scorer, with six goals in five games.

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The form guide

United have had a mixed season under Erik ten Hag, who took over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in December. They finished second in the Premier League, 12 points behind City, but also reached the Europa League final, where they will face Villarreal next week. They have won six of their last eight games in all competitions, including a 2-1 victory over City at Old Trafford in January.

City have been unstoppable under Pep Guardiola, who has led them to a third Premier League title in four years and a fourth consecutive League Cup trophy. They are also in the Champions League final for the first time, where they will face Paris Saint-Germain next week. They have won 25 of their last 27 games in all competitions, scoring 71 goals and conceding only 14.

The key battles

The final will be decided by a number of intriguing duels on the pitch. Here are some of the most important ones:

Marcus Rashford vs John Stones: Rashford scored the winner when United beat City in January, exploiting Stones’ tendency to step into midfield and leaving space behind him. The England forward has 21 goals and 15 assists this season and will look to use his pace and movement to trouble City’s defence.

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Stones has been excellent for City this season, forming a solid partnership with Ruben Dias and contributing four goals. He will need to be alert and disciplined to deal with Rashford’s threat.

Kevin De Bruyne vs Scott McTominay: De Bruyne is arguably the best player in the world right now, with 10 goals and 18 assists this season. The Belgian maestro can create chances out of nothing and score from any distance. He will be City’s main source of creativity and inspiration.

McTominay will have the task of trying to stop him, or at least limit his influence. The Scottish midfielder has been one of United’s most consistent performers this season, with seven goals and two assists. He will need to use his energy and physicality to disrupt De Bruyne’s rhythm.

Erling Haaland vs Harry Maguire: Haaland is one of the most lethal strikers in Europe, with 39 goals in 38 games this season. The Norwegian prodigy has scored six goals in five FA Cup games, including a hat-trick against Birmingham in the third round. He is strong, fast and clinical, and can score with either foot or his head.

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Maguire will have to marshal United’s defence and try to keep Haaland quiet. The England captain has been solid for United this season, scoring three goals and making two assists. He will need to use his experience and leadership to organise his backline and cope with Haaland’s menace.

The verdict

The FA Cup final promises to be a thrilling encounter between two teams who know each other well and have plenty of quality and motivation. United will hope to end their four-year trophy drought and spoil City’s treble bid, while City will aim to complete a domestic double and set themselves up for a possible quadruple.

It could be a close game that goes down to the wire, but City have the edge in terms of form, confidence and depth. They have won six of their last eight meetings with United and have scored more goals and conceded fewer than any other team in England this season.

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