A-League vs. football royalty: the most iconic international match-ups

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Star power, stunning score lines and fanatical crowds: the growing trend of A-League clubs hosting footballing giants exposes fans down under to the footballing elite.

While some of these match ups have the tendency to fall flat, others have well and truly lived up to the hype.

Here are some notable examples!

Melbourne Victory vs. Liverpool (July 24th, 2013: Melbourne 0 Liverpool 2)

Star Power: Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling all played for Liverpool in Melbourne.

It was the noise heard all around the world.

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You’ll Never Walk Alone, sung by near on 100,000 fans, booming around the legendary cauldron of the MCG.

The game itself was a procession for Liverpool, with captain Gerrard banking the opener in a 2-0 victory to the English giants.

But it was the noise of the crowd during their rendition of Liverpool’s notorious anthem that rang through the heart of Melbourne that night, and stole all the headlines.

“I’ve heard it many times, but tonight it was really special,” Gerrard said in a post-match interview.

“95,000 singing it, unbelievable, the lads have been blown away.”

Liverpool’s visit to Melbourne was a ground-breaking moment, which showed the potential for exponential growth in passion and interest in the game in Australia should the standard of our own league continue to improve.

Sydney FC vs. LA Galaxy (November 27th, 2007: Sydney 5 Galaxy 2)

Feel old yet? Current A-League coaches Tony Popovic and Mark Rudan both featured for Sydney in this game against the Galaxy. 

More than 80,000 fans were on hand when David Beckham and LA Galaxy played Sydney FC in November 2007.

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What followed was a seven-goal thriller, with a signature Beckham free kick, an Alex Brosque double and a red card to Galaxy’s Kevin Harmse for stamping on Adam Biddle in the 76th minute all wrapped up in this feisty goal fest.

Today we are blessed to get regular visits from the biggest names in world football: Manchester United, Real Madrid, Roma, Tottenham Chelsea and many others have included trips to Australia in their pre-season tours in recent years.

A David Beckham special nestled into the top left hand corner was the standout moment of a game that truly had it all, and hasn’t been forgotten.

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A-League All-Stars vs. Manchester United (July 20th 2013: All-Stars 1 Manchester United 5)

Did you know? In David Moyes’ first game as United coach, it was their first without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm since 1986.

This game lives in the memory for all the wrong reasons.

The All-Stars hosted United at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, what commentator Robbie Thompson described as “Australia’s very own theatre of dreams”.

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Two goals to Danny Welbeck and Jesse Lingard, capped off by a goal to Robin van Persie made it five for the visitors, with Besart Berisha grabbing the only goal for the All-Stars.

This result looks far worse in hindsight, as we all know what happened to Manchester United in the following torrid season under David Moyes.

A-League All-Stars vs. Juventus (August 10th, 2014: All-Stars 2 Juventus 3)

 Star Power: Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez, Paul Pogba and Gianluigi Buffon headlined a star-studded starting lineup for Juventus.

This game may be the best international tour match in Australia yet, due to the combination of big names on show and the quality of the game itself.

Juventus fielded a near full-strength side to take on the All-Stars, but the hosts struck first when Marcelo Carrusca put the All-Stars in the lead.

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Fernando Llorente headed Juventus level, only for current Socceroo Tomi Juric to score off the bench and put the All-Stars back in front.

Current Manchester United star Pogba scored a tremendous looping volley to make it 2-2, and the All-Stars were finally broken in stoppage time when Simone Pepe gave Juventus a 3-2 victory.

Although suffering defeat the All-Stars did the A-League proud, as their own performance pushed a European super power to fire on all cylinders to get over the line.

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Gold Coast United vs. Fulham (July 8th, 2009: Gold Coast 2 Fulham 1)

European giants: After losing to Gold Coast, Fulham reached the final of the Europa League, losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in extra time.

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It’s funny to think Fulham’s incredible European voyage coincided with a pre-season loss to Gold Coast United.

But that’s exactly what happened, when Clive Palmer’s extinct side took down the London club.

Danny Murphy opened the scoring for Fulham in the 16th minute with an inch-perfect free kick, but the A-League side worked their way back into the affair, with Brazilian Milson and A-League icon Shane Smeltz scoring in the final 10 minutes to give their side a 2-1 victory.

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At the end of the season Fulham were beaten in the Europa League final by Atletico Madrid.

You can only assume the result would have been different had the Spanish giants faced Smeltz and the Gold Coast in the final instead.

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Matthew Comito
Matthew Comito
Football nut, student journalist and firm believer that Berisha dived in the 2012 A-League Grand Final. Covering Perth Glory for the 2018/19 season.

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