Clash of early Premier League favourites
Manchester City and Liverpool will play each other at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Pep Guardiola’s City are the favourites to retain the Premier League title they so emphatically won last season. Their opponents tonight have however been quite clinical in the transfer window so far, as manager Jürgen Klopp has moved swiftly and decisively to plug gaps in his squad.
At this moment, the Reds have a far stronger squad than the champions, who still have many senior players to return following the World Cup.
Return of World Cup stars
That being said, many players from the teams that were eliminated early from the World Cup will make their return for their clubs in the matches tonight. Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah will be available for Liverpool, as will the likes of Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic.
Portugal were eliminated in the Round of 16, but Juventus fans will have to wait a while longer before they can witness new signing Cristiano Ronaldo in action. The Bianconeri are in action against Bayern Munich.
Bonucci Man Utd audition?
José Mourinho’s Man United are up against AC Milan at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. He has been vocal about the need for his team to add two new faces before the start of the new season, with central defence mooted as one key area of need. Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci is among the names linked with a move to the Old Trafford club, despite having spent just one year with the Rossoneri. Mourinho will most probably be keeping a close eye on the veteran Italian defender.
Eyes on Emery
Unai Emery has enjoyed a relatively low-key first summer in charge of Arsenal. His move to the Emirates was of course overshadowed by the World Cup, and his manoeuvres in the transfer market have been made with little fuss.
The Gunners face Atletico Madrid at the National Stadium in Singapore tomorrow afternoon. That fixture will be a repeat of last season’s Europa League semi-final tie which ended in favour of the Spaniards. It will also be the first time Emery comes under considerable scrutiny that goes beyond just the Arsenal fan-base around the world.
Chance for the kids
Pre-season is usually a golden chance for young players to sample life with the senior sides of their respective clubs. They also get to face world-class opposition in glamour matches against the best teams in the world. For some, this has been even more the case given the extended breaks given to World Cup participants. We can expect to see more young blood unleashed in these ICC games.
How do you think the matches will play out? Place your bets here.