Manchester City and Liverpool marked the start of the football season with a blockbuster clash in the FA Community Shield on Sunday. Last season, these two clubs had gifted football fans a roller-coaster ride throughout the year, ensuring that the Premier League was decided only on the final day of the season.
The Community Shield is generally played between the Premier League Champion and the F. A. Cup winner at the start of the new season, but because Manchester City won the domestic treble, Premier League runners-up Liverpool lined up to face them on the night. The two teams had contrasting fortunes in the pre-season, however, this was the first competitive game of the season for both sides and both managers tried to name their best possible eleven for the night.
Pep Guardiola started with Claudio Bravo in goal, with Kyle Walker, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko as the back four. He put new signing Rodrigo Hernandez in the holding role and stationed David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne either side of the Spaniard. The front three consisted of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva.
Jurgen Klopp continued with Alisson Becker in goal, and set up a back four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson. In the midfield, Klopp opted for Georgino Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson alongside Fabinho, while up front, Divock Origi partnered Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in attack.
Manchester City started the game very well and were soon in front when Sterling scored in the 12th minute. The first half ended 1-0, with the Premier League Champions very much in control of the game. However, Liverpool were the better side in the second half and equalized through Joel Matip in the 77h minute. The game ultimately went to penalties, which City won 5-4.
Pep Guardiola started the new season on a high and he will be extremely pleased with the performance of these five men, who were brilliant against Liverpool.
#5 Rodrigo Hernandez
Pep Guardiola bought Rodrigo Hernandez this summer as a long time replacement for the aging Fernandinho. While it is almost an impossible task replacing the Brazilian at the heart of the City midfield, it was clear that Guardiola had seen qualities in Hernandez that are well suited for the role.
The Spaniard is extremely comfortable on the ball and looked very relaxed in the field. Even under intense pressure from the opposition, Hernandez was extremely decisive with his passing and decision-making. He helped City take control of the game and dictated the tempo of the game with ease. Hernandez regularly slotted between the City defense to help out his back line. Even though his effectiveness died down in the second half, Rodri showed that he could turn out to be an absolute bargain for City.