Manchester City will be looking to start their season preparations in the best way possible, but will face a tough test in their opening International Champions Cup fixture as they will take on bitter rivals Manchester United in the first ever overseas Manchester derby.
Playing down the rivalry
United will certainly have the advantage over their city rivals in terms of game time, with The Red Devils having been out in America for nearly two weeks and have had a good start to their season preparations.
They hit the ground running as they steam rolled past LA Galaxy with a 5-2 victory, the clash with Real Salt Lake City was slightly closer having fell behind but goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku gave them the 2-1 win.
It is set to be a historic occasion in Houston but the ferocity will certainly not be lost even though the game is labeled as a friendly, managers José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have been to look to have quite the rivalry stretching back to their days in La Liga. But when questioned Mourinho played down the rivalry between the two.
"It was not a surprise for me, it is a surprise for the people that keep selling the rivalry," Mourinho told his pre-match press conference. "We were together for three years [at Barcelona], we shared a dressing room for three years."
"When Pep came to England I was absolutely sure that the type of competition we have in England," he added. "I was sure it was not about United and City, Mourinho and Pep, I'm sorry."
These games are very important
Though City will have a week of training under their belts the trip across the pond will be their first taste of a match environment, with the clash against United starting off an important four-game run for Guardiola's side in terms of their preparations for a Premier League title charge.
The Citizens certainly look a different side to the one that finished what in many cases was a disappointing first campaign in England for Guardiola, as it proved to be his first campaign as a manager where he didn't pick up a piece of silverware.
The Catalan looks to be rectifying through the flexing of the club's financial muscles, breaking two world records for the signings of Ederson and Kyle Walker as well as breaking the bank for Monaco's Bernardo Silva.
City's clashes in the States will be a good test of how these new players can slot into his system with formidable opponents such as Real Madrid and Tottenham to come, and Guardiola stressed the importance of games like these in his press conference.
“These games are very important - I’ve never been to Houston before," Guardiola told his pre-match press conference. "But at end of the day it’s a derby and people want to see how we can play, try new things, and adjust.”
Despite only been two games into their pre-season preparations Mourinho has already been given some injury concerns, with both Juan Mata and Matteo Darmian picking up knocks in the win over Salt Lake. The Spaniard is expected to be missing from this clash having picked up a minor ankle injury, but Darmian could well start having recovered from his own nasty collision and trained ahead of the City clash.
Friday's clash could well see the debuts of the world's most expensive defender and goalkeeper, with Ederson and Walker both traveling with the side across the pond. Nicolas Otamendi could also make an appearance having traveled separately to the rest of the squad.
However City fans will have to wait to see the debut of Silva, as himself and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo have been given extra time off after their Confederations Cup escapades with Portugal and Chile respectively.
Manchester City will take on Manchester United at the NRG Stadium, Houston on Friday July 21 with kick-off at 3AM GMT.