Didi Hamann believes that Liverpool and Manchester United can no longer be counted as amongst the best clubs in the world - and that the winner of their showdown today is merely fighting for a top four spot.
Both clubs are the two most successful sides in the country in terms of league titles won, however neither will seemingly be adding to their tally this term and will instead scrap it out for the right to make it to the Champions League instead.
The Red Devils are five points off Tottenham in the fourth and final qualifying spot, while Liverpool are down in ninth, a further three points back.
“Down the years, Liverpool and Man United was always the biggest game in English football,” said the former Liverpool midfielder Hamann. “They are the biggest clubs in the country and they were the best teams in the country.
“Liverpool v United was always a game that went a long way towards deciding who were champions. In the 1970s and Eighties, it was Liverpool who were the dominant team and then, when Sir Alex Ferguson was at Old Trafford, it was United. But that’s gone now."
The former Germany international now believes that the game's status has slipped so far it's no longer a championship showdown - just a top four play-off instead.
He explained: "For Liverpool and United, this game is still absolutely huge. But it has nothing to do with the old rivalry. It’s all about getting the three points that will help them finish in the top four.
“Financially, qualifying for the Champions League is huge. But, in terms of prestige and being able to attract top players to the club, then finishing in the top four is essential. United missed out in 2013, last year Liverpool didn’t make it."
The two teams go head to head at Anfield later this afternoon, with Liverpool out for revenge having lost 3-1 to their rivals at Old Trafford back in September. The Reds are unbeaten in their last five home games while Manchester United have won just two of their last 11 games in all competitions.
Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren will not be fit to take part, and will sit out alongside Daniel Sturridge, who is not yet up to speed as he continues his return from injury. For Manchester United, Bastian Schweinsteiger is a major doubt but Phil Jones should return.
What are you predictions for today's game? Leave a comment below!
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