Manchester United v Liverpool: The world's biggest?

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This weekend we'll be treated to the 40th meeting between Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League a rivalry that has quickly become a judge match between the two most successful sides in English football.

United have now usurped The Reds as the domestic kings, having won their record 19th league title last term, but it's the Anfield side's European dominance that sees them as more than equals to the crown of England's biggest league side.

Each clubs' success on home turf means popularity on our shores is natural, but it's both sides' work in Asia and beyond that makes this fixture a worldwide event.

Both clubs have exploited the Asian market, and with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Fernando Torres having passed through in recent years, who would blame them. Multiple tours to the far east have also assisted to increase the popularity of the pair.

In addition, with the pair playing in a division could next season command television income in excess of £2bn, you can see why their success overseas is accentuated.

In October's drab, but eventually controversial encounter on Merseyside close to half a billion people tuned in, and this coming weekend, with Luis Suarez set to make his first start since his eight-game ban, numbers are expected to multiple.

The clash was beamed to 211 countries, leaving just 27 without access to the Premier League's elite.

“You know the difference – Barcelona’s one end of the country, Madrid the other," Sir Alex Ferguson said last year. "The fans don’t travel.”

“The only game that can rival United-Liverpool is Rangers-Celtic,” he added. “I have always considered it to be the game of the season in English football.”

"It is a massive game for both clubs. There is a tremendous profile on it and there will be interest throughout the country."

On a global stage, the only competitor to United and Liverpool's crown comes from Barcelona and Real Madrid, who despite being beamed to a quarter as many countries, attracts an audience of close to 400 million.

With plans to alter the kick-off time to suit the Asian audience, we could see La Liga's biggest fixture usurp their Premier League counterparts. Madrid tested the concept earlier in the season in their league match with Osasuna, which saw 120 million additional viewers just from China.

Reminders of trophy hauls, and off the field incidents are likely to keep United and Liverpool's rivalry as fresh and important as ever, but viewing figures across the world could soon see it usurped as the world's biggest.

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