Manchester City will continue their preparations for the 2019-20 campaign with a pre-season friendly against Hong Kong outfit Kitchee on Wednesday.
City lost on penalties to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday and will be looking to return to winning ways at the Hong Kong Stadium.
Kitchee will be looking to give a good account of themselves when they welcome the Premier League champions for Wednesday's pre-season friendly. Not too much will be expected from Blaz Sliskovic's side, but they have previous when it comes to taking on English opposition.
Indeed, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal have all faced the club over the last seven years, with Spurs recording a 4-1 victory during their preparations for the 2017-18 season. United, meanwhile, won 5-2 back in July 2013, while Arsenal were held to a 2-2 draw in 2012.
The team have dominated the Hong Kong Premier League in recent years, winning the trophy on six occasions since the 2010-11 campaign, which brought their first league title since 1964.
It is a team largely made up of players from Hong Kong, although there are four Brazilians in the current squad, in addition to two Australians, one Frenchman, one Hungarian, one Canadian, one American and one Spaniard.
Long-serving defender Dani Cancela was born in Spain and actually started his professional career with Deportivo La Coruna, but has made 11 appearances for the Hong Kong international team.
It will be a special occasion for Kitchee, who are now managed by former Bosnia and Herzegovina international Sliskovic. The 60-year-old took charge of the team at the start of July and has a good pedigree when considering that he turned out for the likes of Hajduk Split, Marseille and Lens during his playing career.
Kitchee, who finished fourth in the 2018-19 Hong Kong Premier League, will be the huge underdogs when it comes to picking up a positive result, but they have only lost one of their last eight matches in all competitions.
Recent form: WWLWDW
City started their preparations for the 2019-20 campaign by recording a 4-1 win over West Ham United in the semi-finals of the Premier League Asia Trophy last Wednesday. It was a dominant performance from Pep Guardiola's side, who had David Silva and Raheem Sterling on the scoresheet.
The victory over West Ham set up a final with Wolves on Saturday, which ended with a penalty shootout following a goalless draw. Nuno Espirito Santo's side missed two of their first three spot kicks, but still managed to triumph as Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and Lukas Nmecha all squandered their efforts for City.
Guardiola's team only opened their preparations for the new campaign in the middle of last week, but now have just two friendlies before the start of competitive action. Indeed, they will face Kitchee and Yokohama F Marinos in their next two ahead of the Community Shield against Liverpool at the start of August.
It would be fair to say that both teams will treat the Community Shield as almost an extra friendly, but the fact that silverware is available makes it an important game. Meanwhile, the rivalry that has developed between the two sides makes it a bigger game than it perhaps might have been in previous seasons.
City will then open their 2019-20 Premier League campaign away to West Ham on August 10 before hosting Tottenham Hotspur, travelling to Bournemouth and welcoming Brighton & Hove Albion in their four league fixtures ahead of the September international break.
The Citizens had to be almost perfect last season to win the title - it remains to be seen whether Liverpool can perform as they did last term in the new campaign, but it could well be another exhilarating battle between comfortably the best two teams in English football as things stand.
It would be fair to say that it has been a mixture of youth and experience in City's two pre-season games thus far - that might well again be the case against Kitchee, although there is no question that Guardiola's focus will be switching from performances and minutes to readying the team for the new season.
City have been fairly quiet in this summer's transfer market, but Rodri has already made a big impression. The big-money arrival from Atletico Madrid has impressed in both of his new team's games this summer and will be hoping to get some more minutes in his legs against Kitchee.
Recent form: WWWWWL
Kitchee's team could have a familiar look to the one that started against April 25 in the AFC Cup towards the end of June, with Law Tsz Chun and Helio both making the XI.
Brazilian pair Fernando and Lucas Silva are also expected to feature for the Bluewaves.
As for City, Ederson, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus are all still unavailable following their exertions for Brazil at the 2019 Copa America.
As a result, Claudio Bravo will continue between the sticks, while the fact that Sergio Aguero - in action for Argentina this summer - is still unavailable could see Sterling feature through the middle.
Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker will both be hoping for starts in this game, while Angelino and David Silva could come into the XI having featured off the bench against Wolves.
Kitchee possible starting lineup:
Guo; Tong, Helio, Smith, Rodriguez; Huang, Vadocz; Fernando, Law, Cheng; Lucas
Man City possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Angelino; De Bruyne, Rodri, D Silva; Sane, Sterling, B Silva
Head To Head
Wednesday's match will be the first ever meeting between the two teams.
We say: Kitchee 0-4 Manchester City
It is difficult to imagine a situation where City do not run out convincing winners in this match. Kitchee have previous when it comes to competing against English teams, but they will find it tough to contain the Citizens.
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