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Klopp and Guardiola’s touchline quarrel is the headline act at Wembley

Klopp and Guardiola’s touchline quarrel is the headline act at Wembley

03/08/2019 at 17:52Updated 03/08/2019 at 18:38

With England's best two sides severely under-strength on Sunday in the 97th Community Shield, the contact between Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp will likely be the most eye-catching on show.

Though it may be tempting to get excited about a meeting between two of the best Premier League sides of all time, expectations shouldn't be high.

While Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez, not unreasonably, will not play two weeks after their 2018-19 season ended with the African Cup of Nations final, spectators are also unlikely to see Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah for the Reds, or Ederson, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero anywhere near fully fit, if at all. With six substitutes apiece, it will have the flow of a summer international friendly.

One can only imagine the Community marketers' glee then when Klopp pricked Guardiola's newt-like skin with the assertion that his poor Reds "are not in this fantasia land where you just get whatever you want", going on to name City along with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris-St Germain as the dream catchers.

Guardiola complained "I don't like it because it's not true", before putting a case for the thrifty nature of the City Football Group's operations over the last two years.

Maybe the biggest pointer for the season will be to see how £64 million snare Rodri looks sitting in front of the City defence, as he gets the opportunity to settle into the role Fernandinho has made his own over the last eight years at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin de Bruyne, after a knee injury hindered his 2018/19 season, will also be worth watching as he puts his case that he is not just the best Belgian in the Premier League.

Elsewhere, in the absence of the stars, some squad depth will be seen for the last time until the third round of the League Cup.

Harry Wilson fresh from a goal-scoring display against Lyon this week may see some game-time for The Reds, before Klopp decides whether to send him out on loan again, after a successful spell at Derby last term.

Video - 'It's not Playstation' Klopp on Liverpool getting to the next level

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Relevance

In an age where sports news has never been more disposable, this match becomes landfill quicker than most. Too traditional to ignore completely, but unworthy enough for the game's details to be forgotten game within weeks of it taking place.

Similarly, the result will only be excavated and given assumed significance if the winner accumulates other trophies but misses out on the European Cup, whereupon like a manipulative estate agent (try to imagine) eyeing a roomy linen closet, it will be snuck into the season's description to impress those unwilling to peruse deeper.

Both teams can take blame for this. Liverpool in 2001 claimed it as one of their five trophies of 2001 - along with FA Cup League Cup, Uefa Cup and European Super Cup - but City trumped all when including it in the small print of their 'Fourmidable' season of 2018/19, as if the first-ever domestic treble of League, FA and League Cup were not noteworthy in itself.

A little bit of history

Before 'The Double' became an every other season thing in the 1990s, the team who would face the league winners was not always the runner-up. Tottenham faced an FA select XI in 1961 winning 3-2, while Arsenal (in a move it is possible to see used again) decided to play lucrative friendlies abroad instead, meaning second division champions Leicester played FA Cup runners-up Liverpool and won. In 1986 the modern format of the league runner-up playing the double winner was introduced as Liverpool played Everton.

No bad omen

Unfortunately, last year ended a golden eight-year run of the Shield winner not winning the Premier League trophy, but Guardiola went and broke the curse last season. Formidable.

Video - 'Of course it bothers me' - Guardiola on Klopp accusations

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Golden moment

The one-time Charity Shield, as was then (don't ask about the change in name, it's murky and not in a hashtag way), had drama and real significance was when we had the peculiar situation of the 'traditional curtain-raiser' preceding the inaugural Premier League.

Eric Cantona scored three in Leeds' 4-3 win over Liverpool. The Whites failed to win away from Elland Road against English top-flight opposition for over a year. Oh, and three months later their hat-trick hero went on to assume the hegemony of English football for their biggest rival.

Charity Shield wins

Liverpool: 15 (1964, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986*, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2001, 2006)

Manchester City: 5 (1937, 1968, 1972, 2012, 2018)

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