Birds Nest Stadium, Beijing, China
International Champions Cup 2016
Monday 25th July 2016, KO 12:30 BST Live on MUTV
Manchester United face rivals Manchester City in their second and final match of the International Champions Cup in China this summer. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola go head to head for the first time since both were managing Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. United was beaten 4-1 by Borussia Dortmund on Friday afternoon, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring the only goal for the Old Trafford club. Gonzalo Castro scored a brace with one from each of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele. The German side were already four matches into their pre-season, meaning they were much fitter than United, who had played only once – a 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic just over a week ago. Mourinho said that in pre-season, the best team never always wins, the fittest one does – which may sound like an excuse, but is the truth. United needed to be tested – which they were and will now need to put right the wrongs from the match and try to correct them against City.
Mourinho has a strong squad to choose from, but many of the players who participated in the European Championships in France this summer were not part of the travelling squad. Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling and David De Gea were part of the travelling squad but were not utilised on Friday, meaning the strongest United squad possible were not fielded. Dortmund was only missing a few players, meaning they were much stronger. Manchester City seems to have a big squad with them, including the likes of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Agüero. David Silva, Raheem Sterling, and Nicolás Otamendi to name a few. City has only played one pre-season match, a 1-0 defeat to Guardiola’s former club – Bayern Munich. Fitness might be an issue for them as they are in fact a match behind United in terms of progress at this early stage of the season. I am sure the rivalry between the two clubs will spur each player on the pitch to make it a competitive match.
In the first match of the pre-season campaign, Jose Mourinho started Eric Bailly and Daley Blind as the centre-back partnership, against Borussia Dortmund it was Bailly and Phil Jones. Perhaps Chris Smalling and Bailly will be partnered when United face City on Monday, with Axel Tuanzebe, who got ten minutes on the pitch against Wigan perhaps playing some part of the match. Mourinho seems to be impressed with the lad, who has come a long way at the Old Trafford club these past few years. Tuanzebe feels that this is his time to shine, speaking to the official Manchester United website, saying:
“This is my opportunity now. Last year, I missed a couple of months due to injury but now I can start a fresh, give it a good go and try to stick with the first team.”
The 18-year-old when asked about the praise of manager Jose Mourinho, said:
“To have your manager backing you so strongly is a positive sign and my aim now is just to keep impressing and striving towards my goals.”
Mourinho may not have been happy about the defeat to Dortmund on Friday, but it is better to fluff your lines in a rehearsal rather than when it really matters. Pre-season is about fitness, not winning trophies. That is why you pick matches that with test the team – which seems to have been done thus far. Next up for United will be a match against Galatasaray in Gothenburg, followed by Wayne Rooney’s testimonial at Old Trafford against Everton. Then United will face Premier League champions Leicester City for the FA Community Shield at Wembley, before starting the season proper against Bournemouth, away from Old Trafford. Speaking about the defeat to Dortmund, Mourinho said:
“I think in pre-season the team that wins is always the team that is in an advanced stage of the preparation. Always. Never the best team, always the team that is in advance. It was too obvious.
“The team with four matches in their legs against the team with one match. The team working a lot of months against us with a maximum of 15 days, some of them arrived three or four days ago. There was a huge difference in preparation. Nobody likes to lose. We’re not happy with that but happy with the 90 minutes we have in our legs. It was very important to compete in difficult circumstances with the weather and the opponents and that was good for us.
“There are different tours. Some people prefer to play against lower quality teams and win to get confidence out of it. Sometimes its confidence out of context and out of reality. When you’re playing a team like Borussia Dortmund, that starts before us and, of course, are one of the good teams in Europe, it is obviously more difficult. The players are frustrated as nobody likes to lose. Even if you say it’s not a problem, you don’t like to lose – even in friendlies. In reality, I was expecting a very difficult match.
“At the moment, I’m not even creating a team. So many players are not here. We’re creating individuals’ form and trying to bring these players to a good condition. For the new signings and all of the players, they had a chance to play 45, 70 or 90 minutes. It’s very, very important and I can imagine it will take a long time to recover from this effort in the game. In this weather, in reality, at this stage of pre-season for them individually it’s good.”
Manchester United Squad:
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone;
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Paddy McNair, Axel Tuanzebe;
Midfielders: Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Adnan Januzaj, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Andreas Pereira;
Strikers: Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford, Will Keane
Manchester City Squad:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Willy Caballero, Angus Gunn, Billy O’Brien;
Defenders: Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, Gaël Clichy, Jason Denayer, Nicolás Otamendi, Pablo Maffeo, Tosin Adarabioyo, Angeliño, Cameron Humphreys;
Midfielders: Fernando, Raheem Sterling, Samir Nasri, Jesús Navas, Fabian Delph, David Silva, Fernandinho, Bruno Zuculini, Yaya Touré, Bersant Celina, James Horsfield, Brandon Barker, Sinan Bytyqi, Aleix García, Manu García;
Strikers: Nolito, Sergio Agüero, Wilfried Bony
Starting XI Prediction:
Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City