Some will label the upcoming Europa League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United as ‘The battle of Britain’ which would be grossly misleading because, as we all know, neither side can currently lay claim to being the best team in the northwest of England, let alone Britain.
However, whilst both of these giants of world football have temporarily fallen on hard times as far as trophies are concerned, both sets of fans would point out that, in spite of the sudden and recent rise of both Manchester City and Chelsea, neither of their mega-rich rivals can even begin to compare with the two most successful footballing sides this country has ever witnessed.
The evidence for that statement is detailed below.
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Two glorious histories
Between them, Liverpool and Manchester United have won a combined total of 121 major trophies:
38 League titles
8 Champions League/European Cup trophies
18 FA Cups
12 League Cups
3 UEFA Cups
5 European Super Cups
35 Community Shields
1 European Cup Winner’s Cup
1 World Club Championship
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So when these two footballing superpowers meet in European competition, for the first time ever, we will be witnessing not just a clash between England’s two great footballing titans, but a coming together of two immense footballing histories.
By analysing the two clubs financially, you see a combined revenue of £800 million ($1.1billion) which makes Liverpool and Manchester United, combined, the equivalent of being the 16th largest economy in the world with a joint income greater than the GDP of countries such as the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and South Africa (according to International Monetary Fund data).
In addition, if the two clubs’ own PR is to be believed, they also have a joint worldwide following of approximately 1.24 billion.
Just to put that figure into context, that makes the supposed following of the two clubs roughly the same size as the two largest countries on earth; China and India.
None of those statistics will have the slightest bearing on the outcome of their two-legged encounter, of course.
The reason for describing those numbers is to simply stress and emphasise, if you didn’t already know it, the sheer size and magnitude of these two iconic footballing institutions and to put them into a global context.
For that is the nature and size of their meeting; it will be perceived by the worldwide footballing audience as a sporting event of global proportions.
In the four previous ‘big games’ between these two sides (two FA Cup finals and two League Cup finals) the score stands at 2-2, with Liverpool having won both Wembley encounters in the League Cup, whilst Manchester United were triumphant in both FA Cup finals between the two sides.
As far as domestic league titles are concerned, we all know that Manchester United now hold the edge at 20-18, after two decades spent playing catch-up and on current form, that scoreline looks set to remain for some time yet.
The European gap
It is in Europe, though, where the gulf between the two sides still exists; Liverpool having won 12 European trophies to Manchester United’s five.
There can be little doubt that, throughout this clash of the titans, the Liverpool supporters will be constantly reminding their greatest rivals of that fact.
In response, Manchester United’s followers will be doing all they can to rub salt into Liverpool’s league title wounds.
And somewhere in-between, as the two sides collide, you just know the tremors will be felt across planet football, as a worldwide audience watches, in fascinated expectation, to see which of these two sporting mega-beasts will prevail.
One thing is for sure, however; for the fans of whoever loses this encounter, it will be the most painful experience in the long history of rivalry between two sets of immensely proud and passionate supporters and it will surely serve to fuel, even further, the animosity that exists between them for many years to come.