After more than two months, club football is finally back. After a fun 30 days of Euro 2016 and a ridiculous number of transfer rumors all the time, we can enjoy Manchester City again. And what an exciting time it is to be a City fan.
The best coach in the world and one of the greatest in history has joined the Citizens. Pep Guardiola arrives at the Etihad with sky-high expectations and credentials, and has been given a huge amount of confidence (and money) to build his own squad and create a City team that fits his style and takes over England with his incredible brand of football.
Guardiola will certainly face a huge challenge. The Premier League doesn't have anything close to what Guardiola does, and the players in the current squad aren't used to the methods or the philosophies implemented by the Catalan coach. However, Pep has not arrived in England to completely change the way they play football. He wants his team to play this way, but he wants to learn from England as well, and that makes for a difficult, yet fun ride.
Pre-season training has already started for most of the players, apart from the internationals who went deep into their summer tournaments. Guardiola has certainly worked hard with his team, but he needs to test them on the pitch, and he will have four friendlies over the next three weeks that will give Pep himself and all the City supporters and idea of how tough of a challenge the best coach on Earth will have to overcome.
The first game is an instant return to the place Guardiola called home for the past three seasons: Bayern Munich. This should be fun.
Man City Team News: As mentioned above, Guardiola does not have a full-strength squad yet. Aguero, Otamendi, Hart, Sterling, David Silva and Nolito played plenty of minutes in their international tournaments, and will not be available for Wednesday's game. All other first team players have trained since the first day, though, and should all be given at least a few minutes against Bayern. Twelve academy players are also training with the first team, and will travel with the big boys to China after the friendly in Munich.
There are no injuries so far, which is already good news. The healthier the squad is, the better, especially at the start of Pep's journey. Other than Vincent Kompany, only Ilkay Gundogan is hurt, but that was the case before his signing. It is impossible to predict a starting lineup for the first game of pre-season, but with most first teamers available, we should see a number of familiar faces from last season.
Bayern Munich Team News: Carlo Ancelotti is the new coach of Bayern, and Guardiola's former team already played one pre-season friendly over the weekend, and they got terrible news from that: winger Arjen Robeen left the game with an injury and is out for six weeks. Most of Bayern's internationals are still on vacation, so we won't see their best side on Wednesday. Still, the likes of Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso and Franck Ribéry are likely to play, so City will not have an easy opponent.
This should be a fun game, and the Allianz Arena crowd will give Guardiola a nice reception for his (instant) return to Munich. For City fans, it is the first opportunity to watch Pep's team. His style is so different from the rest that we're going to see some changes from Manuel Pellegrini's side right in the first game. But it's only the first game of pre-season with the biggest stars all absent, so let's not overreact to anything.
Still, seeing Guardiola on the City sideline will be fun. This is so exciting.