Here we are, finally. Manchester City's season officially starts on Saturday, at Etihad Stadium against Sunderland in the opening match of the new Premier League season.
This has been a particularly tough three months for City fans, who could not wait for the start of the season. The appointment of Pep Guardiola and the many, many, many transfers that followed creat an atmosphere of excitement for the Sky Blues. After a disappointing ending to Manuel Pellegrini's last season, there is a feeling of change surrounding this team.
The best coach in the world, a great squad improved even more by fantastic signings, and the promise of a ridiculously competitive Premier League are all factors that could make City's campaign a memorable one. The challenges are gigantic, but if there's a team that can overcome them and have major success, it's City.
Sunderland presents an interesting challenge, and it's a great way to warm up for the Champions League playoffs in just a few days. This should be fun.
Date/Time: Saturday, August 13, 2016, 5:30pm local time (BST), 12:30pm ET, 9:30am PT (US), 10pm IST (India)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Referee: Bobby Madley
On TV: CNBC (US), Sportsnet (Canada), BT Sport 1 (UK), Star Sports 4 HD (India), elsewhere
Online streaming: NBC Sports (US), Sirius XM FC (US - Radio), BT Sport Live Streaming (UK), elsewhere
Man City Team News: Pep Guardiola is still without two key players on his side: captain Vincent Kompany and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan are injured and ruled out for the next few weeks. New signing Leroy Sané arrived with a hamstring problem and is also out. Nicolas Otamendi will undergo a late fitness test to confirm his status for the game, but he's also unlikely to play with the upcoming Champions League match against Steaua Bucharest just a few days away. Kevin De Bruyne played only 45 minutes last week against Arsenal in the last preseason friendly, and his lack of fitness could cause him to miss the game as well. De Bruyne might be on the bench, but a start is unlikely.
Samir Nasri, Eliaquim Mangala and Wilfried Bony are not in Guardiola's plans, and it'd be a shock to see them on the pitch. That's eight first teamers who will not face the Black Cats, which makes Pep's lineup selection even tougher to predict. He said in the pre-match press conference he's 80%-90% sure about the starting lineup against Sunderland, but he needs some sleep and dreams first. That's how the brain of a genius works.
A few players are more than certain to start, however: Fernandinho is a Pep favorite, John Stones is the only available center-back and Sergio Agüero is fully fit. David Silva is the best passing midfielder available, so he's likely to start as well. Raheem Sterling played well against Arsenal, and is another good bet to be in the starting XI.
Predicted Starting XI: Hart | Clichy, Kolarov, Stones, Zabaleta | Fernando, Fernandinho | Nolito, Silva, Sterling | Agüero
Sunderland Team News: The Black Cats arrive at the Etihad looking for their first ever win at City's new home, and quite a few important players will not play, especially in midfield: Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchoff and Seb Larsson all miss out through injury, and new signings Paddy McNair, Donald Love and Adnan Januzaj (all of them came from Manchester United) might be forced into early action thanks to the injuries.
After losing manager Sam Allardyce to the England national side, Sunderland went and looked for another experienced, proven Premier League manager to keep the team in the top flight once again. David Moyes was the man chosen, and even though his last managerial stint in England wasn't memorable, his time at Everton certainly showed he can make a team solid enough to become a Premier League regular, always safe from relegation and ready to surprise the big sides.
Will Moyes start his Sunderland campaign by surprising a really big side?
For more on Sunderland, visit Roker Report