DENVER (CBS4) – Futbol replaces Football for a day at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Two of Europe’s most popular and famed clubs will face off in Denver on July 26 for a match part of the Guinness International Cup. With World Cup fever over in the United States, die-hard and new soccer fans alike can witness some players fresh off the plane from Brazil take the field in Denver.
Manchester United will look to rebound after a disappointing seventh place finish in the Premier League last season while AS Roma hopes to improve their second place title in the Italian Serie A.
The following are some key players to keep an eye on as British giants Manchester United takes on Italian runner-ups AS Roma:
Louis Van Gaal — Ok, he’s not a player, but he may just be the man with the most say in what happens on the field. Van Gaal takes over as manager of Manchester United after previous manager David Moyes led the Red Devils to a disappointing seventh place finish last season. Moyes replaced legendary United coach Sir Alex Ferguson, but only lasted 10 months at the helm of the European giants.
Van Gaal, the technical mastermind, has exhibited just what he can do with a team when he led the Netherlands to a semi-final match at the World Cup in Brazil. Fresh off the success coaching the Dutch national team, look for Van Gaal to fiddle with United’s tactical formations, even trying a more attacking minded 3-4-3.
Wayne Rooney — Rooney has become the face of Manchester United now that players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have retired. Coming off of a very disappointing World Cup performance with the British National team, Rooney will look to put his time in Brazil behind him and focus on rebuilding Manchester United to the point where they can once again compete for a championship.
Rooney has scored 208 goals for Manchester United, putting him fourth on the club’s storied record book. Look for him to put a couple of balls in the back of the net before the game is over.
Marouane Fellaini — Many Americans may now know Marouane Fellaini as the crazy-haired Belgian player who helped knock the United States out of the World Cup. Although he only scored one goal in Brazil, his short passes in the midfield and ever-present threat in the air through crosses and free kicks make him a world-class player. He joined Manchester United in 2013 from Everton but failed to score for the Red Devils in his first season at Old Trafford. Fellaini played for Everton for five years and tallied up 25 goals. Look for him to control the midfield alongside new signing Ander Herrera.
Ander Herrera — One of Manchester United’s newest and most high profile summer signings is 24-year-old Ander Herrera. Herrera comes to Manchester from Spanish Club Athletic Bilbao where he played for three years. At Bilbao, the Spaniard scored seven goals in 94 appearances. The move to United marks Herrera’s growing stardom and international belief that he can soon become a world-class player.
Herrera has yet to make his debut with the Spanish national team, but has played 20 games for the youth national teams. Look for Herrera to be a little shaky as the youngster adjusts to his new team, but also play some excellent through-balls from the midfield that may even lead to a goal.
Ashley Cole –– Cole arrives in Rome after a free summer transfer from English giants Chelsea. Although Cole is already a few years past his prime, the move to Roma shows that there is still a popular belief that the English defender can play at a high level. At 33 years old, Cole’s 2-year contract with Roma will likely keep him in Rome until he retires.
After receiving multiple contract offers, including some MLS teams, Cole chose to move to Roma partly so that he could continue to play in the Champions League. Look for Cole to be fresh and play the full 90 minutes after taking the summer off after his retirement from the English national team prior to the World Cup.
Gervinho — After scoring two of the Ivory Coast’s four goals in the World Cup, Gervinho will look to continue his current form into the club season. The Ivory Coast international striker joined AS Roma in the summer of 2013 and has already scored nine goals in 30 league appearances.
Look for Gervinho to be the target of many passes and crosses as Roma attacks David de Gea in the Manchester goal.
Daniele De Rossi — Although not the captain – yet — of AS Roma, De Rossi is perhaps Roma’s most high profile player. With current Roma captain Francesco Totti near the end of his playing career and having already retired from international play with his national team after winning the World Cup with Italy in 2006, De Rossi is the heir- apparent to the captain’s armband. De Rossi has been with Roma his entire professional career.
He debuted with Roma’s first team in 2003 and has since scored 34 goals in 338 games. De Rossi comes to Denver after a disappointing performance in the World Cup, which saw his Italian team eliminated in the first round. Look for de Rossi to control the midfield as he has done so well for so many years.
– Written for CBSDenver.com by Marc Sallinger