After the heartbreak and devastation of a loss in the final of what Martin Tyler spoke of as the Biggest Tournament in the World, City must somehow get over the disappointment, brush themselves off and find a way to carry on.
We may be firmly in the Manchester City banter era, giving away penalties and missing all of our own, with a mess of a squad and a fraud manager, but maybe, just maybe, a win against Hong Kong side Kitchee will restore us to the glory days of two months ago when we won the treble. Alternatively, maybe it’s just a preseason friendly and losing to Wolves on penalties actually doesn’t mean anything.
Here’s our predicted team for Wednesday’s game…
We expect Phil Foden to be available for this one, joining up with the rest of the squad that contested the Biggest Tournament in the World™ last week. Some big names that aren’t going to be back yet include Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Ederson, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi. So, despite pre-season teams being about as predictable as a night in with a bottle of Fireball, we can have a go at choosing an XI for the match.
If there are two players I think are certain to start, one of them is Claudio Bravo. Our only available senior goalkeeper (unless the legendary Asier Riesgo ever arrives) is probably going to keep Daniel Grimshaw out of the team for a bit longer- sorry, Daniel.
Across the back four, I think we’ll see another start for Taylor Harwood-Bellis, this time partnered by John Stones. Angeliño is likely to be given a shot at impressing the City fans, with Danilo on the opposite side. Then again, Pep might play Walker, Zinchenko and Laporte instead, which where I’m from is called ‘mugging me right off’.
The other player I would bet is going to start is Rodri. The new signing has impressed on and off the pitch so far and we need him fully sharp for the Community Shield next month. In front of him I can picture Kevin de Bruyne partnering Tommy Doyle, a mix of youth and experience that Pep seems to favour in these situations. Doyle looked excellent against West Ham United last week and City fans can’t wait to see a bit more of what he can do.
The front three is probably even harder to guess at than the rest of the team, so I’ll go with Lukas Nmecha at striker – having scored against West Ham – being flanked by Ian Carlo Poveda-Ocampo and Bernardo Silva. Bernardo hasn’t started a game yet this pre-season, and it must only be a matter of time.
City Xtra Predicted Starting XI: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Harwood-Bellis, Angeliño, Rodri, De Bruyne, Doyle, Poveda-Ocampo, Bernardo Silva, Nmecha.
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