After a botched attempt of a preview of the Guardiola-Mourinho English rivalry in Beijing, Manchester City are really going to play a friendly in China this time. Shenzhen has good weather, the pitch is in good condition, and the Citizens will play their first — and only — International Champions Cup game, against Borussia Dortmund.
Pep Guardiola was upset in his pregame presser. He wanted to face United not only because of his competitive spirit, but also to actually see his players in action. Training is a lot different than the actual game in preseason, and you need to see your ideas and philosophies being applied against a credible opponent. Pep only saw that in the Bayern game without his biggest stars, and he was looking forward to the two games in China to include his best players. Now there's only one.
There are silver linings to the United cancellation, however: first, and more importantly, the pitch in Beijing was so dangerous that players could get injured, and that is certainly not ideal in your first month in charge as a coach. Second, it gave time for the internationals to get more time in training with the new manager, and the first few weeks of learning the Pep Style are vital.
If the United friendly was exciting because of Pep-Jose, this is just as exciting since Dortmund are just too much fun to watch and were the main adversary to Guardiola during his three years in Germany. Can't go wrong with Dortmund.
Date/Time: Thursday, July 28, 2016, 7:30pm local time, 12:30pm BST (UK), 5:30am ET, 2:30am PT (US), 5pm IST (India)
Venue: Shenzhen Stadium, Shenzhen, China
Referee: A Chinese Guy
On TV: ESPN3 (US), ESPN Deportes (US - Spanish), Sky Sports 1 (UK), TSN (Canada), Sony ESPN (India); more
Man City Team News: Seven internationals are back (Agüero, Otamendi, Silva, Nolito, Hart, Sterling and Denayer) and after five full days of team training, they have a good chance of featuring for at least 10-15 minutes. Only Kevin De Bruyne, Eliaquim Mangala, Bacary Sagna (vacation), Ilkay Gundogan and Vincent Kompany (injury) are unavailable, and with 12 EDS players, Guardiola has a much stronger squad to choose from compared to what he worked with last week in Munich.
It's very interesting to see how the bigger stars begin to adapt to Pep's tactics. City always played a possession game under Pellegrini, but it was a very simple style. Guardiola's is much more complex with a lot of movement and variations, so it's fascinating to see how quickly the best players pick things up.
Borussia Dortmund Team News: Thomas Tuchel has a near full-strength side to work with, and that helped in the 4-1 destruction of Man United last week. Dortmund is already an established team who understands Tuchel's tactics, so their preseason is simply about adding a few new ideas and integrating the new signings to the squad.
Speaking of transfers, it's been a busy summer for the Yellow and Black. Two key players left (Mats Hummels to Bayern, Gundogan to City), but quite a few came in: prospects Ousmane Dembele, Emre Mor and Sabin Merino; a good midfielder (Sebastian Rode from Bayern) along with an established winger (Andre Schürrle). Oh, and of course, the return of Mario Götze, one of the biggest moves of the summer transfer window.
Once again, it's impossible to predict the starting lineups, especially with these two coaches. They love to experiment, and with so many options available, they could surprise with their selections. Should be a very fun game, though.