United Looking to Stop Treble-chasing City in First All-Manchester FA Cup Final

Manchester United's head coach Erik ten Hag addresses to his players at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Manchester United's head coach Erik ten Hag addresses to his players at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
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United Looking to Stop Treble-chasing City in First All-Manchester FA Cup Final

Manchester United's head coach Erik ten Hag addresses to his players at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Manchester United's head coach Erik ten Hag addresses to his players at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

The roars grew louder inside Old Trafford as Erik ten Hag addressed Manchester United fans from the middle of the field, reminding them of the role they have in protecting the club’s greatest ever achievement.

There was one game to go this season, the United manager told the baying crowd, and his players standing right in front of him were ready to give their all to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

“We count on you as well,” he said, pointing to the supporters, who by now were punching the air in defiance. “They will give everything when you are at our backs, and I’m sure we’ve a really good chance to take the cup back to Old Trafford.”

As rallying cries go, it was pretty much pitch perfect from Ten Hag, who knows exactly what’s at stake on Saturday in a local derby with widespread repercussions.

For United, this is about much more than capturing a second trophy of the season — after the English League Cup in February that ended the club's six-year title drought — to cap an encouraging first season under Ten Hag. It’s also about preserving United’s proud status as the only English team to have won the league-FA Cup-European Cup treble in the same season.

City, after all, is two wins from emulating that feat, having already clinched the Premier League title and booked its place in the Champions League final against Inter Milan in Istanbul on June 10.

That United can ruin City’s treble bid adds more spice to the first cup final between the rivals, which is taking place about 170 miles (270 kilometers) south of Manchester.

City starts as the undoubted favorite on the back of its stunning form since February that reeled in long-time leader Arsenal in the Premier League race and saw Bayern Munich and Real Madrid swept aside in the Champions League knockout stage.

Before a much-weakened team — featuring a bunch of youth players — lost at Brentford 1-0 in a league match with little riding on it last Sunday, City went on a 25-match unbeaten run in all competitions and won 20 of them. Along the way, Madrid was beaten 4-0, Bayern 3-0 and Arsenal 4-1. Back in October, City thrashed United 6-3.

All those games were at home, though, and City hasn't been quite so machine-like on the road. And that's not the only source of hope for United, which is seeking its 13th FA Cup title — with only Arsenal (14) having more.

City manager Pep Guardiola talks often of his players having “rhythm” but that might have been lost after he chose to rotate his lineups for the final two league games, with the title wrapped up. Before the loss at Brentford, City was possibly fortunate to come away from Brighton with a 1-1 draw.

Erling Haaland has 52 goals in all competitions in a stunning first season at City but it's just one goal in his last six games for the Norway striker.

Meanwhile, United won its final four matches in the league, conceding just two goals in that period. And in the last meeting between the teams, United won at Old Trafford 2-1 in January — albeit after a debatable equalizing goal from Marcus Rashford.

City is a different proposition four-and-a-half months on, though, and has more experience of these big, defining games than United in recent years. Guardiola certainly does — he is looking to claim the 34th trophy of his managerial career, and the 13th in his seven years at City.

That, of course, would set up City for a shot at standing shoulder to shoulder with United's class of '99.

“I will start to think about the treble,” Guardiola said, "when I go to Istanbul with two titles in my pocket.”

INJURIES

United striker Anthony Martial will miss the final after sustaining a hamstring injury in the team's final league game of the season, the 2-1 win over Fulham on Sunday.

Marcus Rashford is expected to start up front, with Jadon Sancho set to be on the left wing and possibly Bruno Fernandes on the right to allow United to field a sturdier central-midfield three, likely comprising of Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and either Fred or Scott McTominay.

Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish missed City's final two league games because of minor injury issues, though Guardiola said he hoped the midfielders would be fit for the final.

City has no other injuries, with Nathan Ake playing 63 minutes against Brentford on his return from a hamstring problem.

PLANNING AHEAD

The engraver got a head start.

The word “Manchester” has already been engraved on the trophy to highlight the unique nature of this final, the 142nd in the world’s oldest knockout competition.

TRAVEL TROUBLE

There's set to be travel chaos around the final because of rail strikes that mean there will be no train services running between Manchester and London on Saturday.

The Football Association is providing 120 buses — 60 per team — to help transport fans of City and United to and from the match.



Germany Looking to Book Spot in Euro 2024 Knockout Stage with Another Win against Hungary

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
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Germany Looking to Book Spot in Euro 2024 Knockout Stage with Another Win against Hungary

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer smiles during press conference of the German national soccer team in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Monday, June 17, 2024. (dpa via AP)

Germany faces Hungary on Wednesday in Stuttgart in their second Group A match. Germany tops the group after beating Scotland 5-1 in the opener while Hungary lost 3-1 against Switzerland. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. local time (1600 GMT). Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts:

— Victory for Germany would all but guarantee a spot in the knockout stages and it would definitely advance if Switzerland also beats Scotland in the other group match.

— Another defeat would not end Hungary’s chances as it could still claim one of the four best third-place spots up for grabs.

— Germany is winless in its last three meetings against Hungary and was beaten 1-0 in the last game between the two teams, in September 2022.

— Germany had to twice come from behind when the teams met in the group stage at the last European Championship. That was the teams’ first competitive meeting since the 1954 World Cup final, won 3-2 by West Germany.

Team news:

— Hungary coach Marco Rossi is hopeful French-born midfielder Loic Nego will have recovered to face Germany after he was only fit for a place on the bench against Switzerland.

— Germany has reported no injury concerns.

By the numbers:

— Germany’s five goals scored against Scotland leaves it just one short of its best-ever group stage tally at the European Championship, when it scored six at Euro 2020.

— Hungary midfielder Ádám Nagy, who turned 29 on Sunday, could make his eighth tournament appearance if he plays against Germany. That would be a new record for Hungary, breaking the joint mark Nagy holds with former captain Ádám Szalai.

— Germany’s victory over Scotland saw the team win its European Championship opener for a record-extending eighth time.

What they’re saying:

“Hungary is an unpleasant opponent, they can sometimes be wild and they’re difficult to get a hold of. There are a lot of free spirits out there” — Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann.

“We beat them (Germany) in 2022, so I’m sure it will be an extra motivation for them. They’ll be thinking: ‘Not again.’ But it’s clear from the first game that this Germany side is a completely proposition to what they were back then or even last year.” — Hungary forward Martin Ádám.

“On the pitch you felt how every single one of our players was annoyed that we conceded. That is a good sign. Scoring goals is nice, but we are thinking defensively and want to have stability at the back.” — Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.