Man United vs. Man City Preview: Houston Hosts First Overseas Manchester Derby

0:49 | Planet Futbol
Wayne Rooney rejoins Everton after 13 years at Manchester United
Wednesday July 19th, 2017

Manchester United will play their third friendly of the summer against local rivals Manchester City in Houston, Texas on Thursday 20th July (8.30pm local time), also the first of three International Champions Cup (ICC) games Jose Mourinho's team will play against before the end of the month as preparations for the 2017-18 campaign now step up a gear.

History in the Making

This game will mark the first Manchester derby ever to be played outside the United Kingdom as fans on the other side of the world get a chance to experience the famous rivalry up close.

United and City were originally supposed to have met in such circumstances last year in China, only for the pitch at Beijing's iconic Bird's Nest Stadium to be deemed unplayable after adverse weather conditions in the days leading up to the historic game.

With growing international audiences desperate to see Europe's biggest clubs go head to head on a regular basis, it could well be a precedent for future summers.


The Venue

Houston's NRG Stadium will play host for the landmark game.

Opened in 2002 and covered by a retractable roof in the event of bad weather, the 71,000-seat stadium is usually home to the Houston Texans of the NFL and also plays hosts to college bowl games, concerts and the city's annual rodeo and livestock exhibition.

Image by Jamie Spencer


Last Season's Encounters

United faced City on three occasions during the 2016/17 campaign, with the spoils ultimately shared after one win, one defeat and one draw.

City escaped with early bragging rights at Old Trafford in September after the first ever Premier League contest between Mourinho and old adversary Pep Guardiola ended in a narrow away win. But United took revenge a few weeks later in the EFL Cup fourth round and then eventually went on to lift that particular trophy at Wembley in February.

The return league meeting at the Etihad Stadium at the end of April finished 0-0.

Manchester United's Spanish midfielder Juan Mata celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the EFL (English Football League) Cup fourth round match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England on October 26, 2016. / AFP / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

United Team News

Mourinho is using these early tour games to experiment with different formations and different personnel. A 3-5-2 system was in use against LA Galaxy, but Real Salt Lake (RSL) merited a more conventional back four, with separate teams playing each half.

Against City, we already know that David de Gea and Sergio Romero will play one half each, with Joel Pereira getting his pre-determined sets of 45 minutes against Galaxy and RSL.

Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young and Luke Shaw were included in the tour squad despite suffering injury problems and won't play. But Shaw in particular has made positive recovery progress and hopes to be back in action sooner rather than later after a stop-start few seasons.

Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero during an Open Training Session at the University of California (UCLA), July 14, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
ROBYN BECK/GettyImages

City Summer Lowdown

For City, this game will be their first of pre-season compared to United's third and so Guardiola's squad are likely to be a little behind Mourinho's in terms of their overall fitness.

A number of familiar faces have left the club since the end of last season, with Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Jesus Navas and Willy Caballero the five first-teamers that were released. Forgotten forward Nolito has also been sold to Sevilla.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 16: Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City does a lap of honour after his last home match for the club during the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion at Etihad Stadium on May 16, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/GettyImages

New Players to Watch

City have spent big sums on three new first-team players so far this summer, at least two of whom could feature against United in some capacity.

Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva was the first through the door after joining from Monaco, although his inclusion in City's tour squad is currently uncertain after he was still in action with his country until 2nd July at the recent Confederations Cup.

Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson Moraes arrived from Benfica to compete with Claudio Bravo and is likely to play in Houston, with Bravo another who was at the Confederations Cup until late.

Kyle Walker is the newest City addition, sealing a record move for an English player last week.

Portugal's midfielder Bernardo Silva runs for the ball during the 2017 Confederations Cup semi-final football match between Portugal and Chile at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 28, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Alexander NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/GettyImages

 

Still to Come for United

After City, United will be more than halfway through the US leg of their summer tour. There are still two further ICC games to come against Real Madrid in Santa Clara (San Francisco) and Barcelona in Landover (Washington DC) on 23rd and 26th of July respectively.

Back in Europe in late July and early August, United will then play two further friendlies against Valerenga and Sampdoria in Oslo and Dublin respectively, before the season begins with another Real clash in the UEFA Super Cup in Macedonia on 8th of August.

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