International Friendlies


With the World Cup now done and dusted, the focus will be on club football as teams begin their preparations for the upcoming campaign.

Friday 20 July

7/20 Manchester United | Draw 3/1 | Club America 7/1 (04:00)
Manchester United will begin their pre-season schedule with a trip to Phoenix, Arizona to face Club America. The two sides last played each other in 2015 with an early goal from Morgan Schneiderlin handing United a 1-0 win. The English club will be missing several key players mainly due to their participation in the 2018 World Cup, although Alexis Sanchez has been given an extended break while Daley Blind is closing in on a return to Ajax. The first team players Jose Mourinho has are Sergio Romero, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial. New signings goalkeeper Lee Grant and 19-year-old full-back Diogo Dalot are also included, while Mourinho will also look to give some youngsters the chance to impress. Back the Red Devils to get their pre-season preparations off to a winning start.

Saturday 21 July

18/10 Galatasaray | 22/10 | Valencia 13/10 (17:30)
Galatasaray will play Valencia in a friendly in Switzerland on Saturday. The Turkish Super Lig champions are yet to play PSV at the time of writing. Fatih Terim’s men kicked off their pre-season with a 1-0 win over Swiss side FC Wil in Zurich last Friday thanks to Eren Derdiyok’s goal in the 32nd minute. Terim is likely to be without goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, who made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup with Uruguay, but midfielder Younes Belhanda, who was part of the Morocco team that failed to progress from the group stages, could join the squad as well as Henry Onyekuru, who joined on a season-long loan from Everton. This will be Valencia’s first pre-season friendly and they’ll be without Spanish star Rodrigo Moreno. Galatasaray are ahead in their pre-season preparations and I’m expecting it to show against Los Che. The Turkish outfit are tipped to win.

5/10 Fenerbahce | 26/10 | Feyenoord 5/1 (20:00)
Dutch legends Philip Cocu and Giovanni van Bronckhorst will try to outsmart each other as Fenerbahce and Feyenoord face off in a friendly in Istanbul on Saturday. Both teams have already played two friendlies this month. Cocu’s Fenerbahce kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw against Istanbulspor, before losing 2-1 to Swiss side Lausanne Sport last Friday. Feyenoord’s pre-season preparations started with a 3-0 loss against Young Boys, but Van Bronckhorst’s side bounced back with a thumping 5-0 victory over Basel last Friday. Feyenoord are strong side, spearheaded by Robin van Persie, and I fancy them to come out on top.

6/10 Inter Milan | 24/10 | Zenit 4/1 (20:15)
Inter Milan will play Zenit Saint Petersburg in a friendly on Saturday in Pisa, Italy. The Nerazzurri kicked off their pre-season on a winning note last Saturday as they beat Swiss side Lugano 3-0, courtesy of a brace from Yann Karamoh and one from Lautaro Martinez. New signings Kwadwo Asamoah and Radja Nainggolan both shone in that game. Coach Luciano Spalletti will be hoping for another impressive display. The 59-year-old Italian will be without Brazilian centre-back Miranda, Uruguayan midfielder Matias Vecino and Croatian duo of Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic due to their involvement in the World Cup. Zenit have been superb in pre-season, winning all three of their friendlies. The Russian side claimed a 1-0 win over Austria’s Pinzgau Saalfelden last month and under new boss Sergei Semak, they beat Dynamo Moscow 5-0 and Swiss side Grasshopper 2-0. I’m going for Both Teams to Score here.

Monday 23 July

8/1 Perth Glory | 33/10 | Chelsea 3/10 (13:30)
Maurizio Sarri’s first game in charge of Chelsea will be against A-League side Perth Glory in Australia on Monday. The former Napoli boss will be without several first-team members due to their involvement in the World Cup. However, he’ll still have a number of high-profile first-team regulars like David Luiz, Marcos Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, Alvaro Morata and new signing Jorginho, who was a key member of Sarri’s Napoli side. Ross Barkley will be hoping to bounce back from a difficult period in his career and prove his class. The 24-year-old is a promising talent and could benefit from Sarri-ball. Perth Glory got their pre-season campaign off to a fine start, beating Perth 3-0 last week Wednesday. They’ll relish testing themselves against the English Premier League giants, but Sarri’s side should prove too strong.

Chadley Nagel

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