Top 10 Preseason Friendlies You Have to Watch This Summer

Matthew Celentano@@Gunner_NYCFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2012

Top 10 Preseason Friendlies You Have to Watch This Summer

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    Euro 2012 may be over, but there are plenty of preseason friendlies worth watching before the season kicks off in August.

    In friendlies, teams don't usually play the same starting eleven they'd play in a league match, but with some of these fixtures expect to see a few big names on the team sheets. Preseason or not, when two European powerhouses face off, it's never friendly.

    Here are the top 10 preseason friendlies to watch this summer.

Real Madrid vs. AC Milan, August 8

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    AC Milan and Real Madrid haven't lined up against each other in a competitive match since the 
    2010 Champions League.

    You can never draw too many conclusions from preseason. Many questions will be asked of AC Milan after the sales of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so they'll be put to the test against some worthy opposition. With each side boasting plenty of attacking flair and creativity, this match should be an absolute cracker between two of the best sides in the world.

    With each side looking to prove themselves before the start of the season, how friendly will it be?

Arsenal vs. Manchester City, July 27

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    Arsenal and Manchester City have developed quite the rivalry in recent years.

    Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, and Samir Nasri: These are all players who have made the switch from Arsenal to Manchester City in the past few seasons, and it's angered plenty of Gooners. Jokes are jokes, but when Arsenal FC is called a "feeder club" for Manchester City, it raises serious concerns among Arsenal supporters.

    So this certainly won't just be your average friendly. Arsenal and Manchester City will be two teams competing at the top of the table this season in the Premier League. So, although the starting lineups won't look like the ones that will square off against each other in September, expect this to be a feisty encounter.

Chelsea vs. AC Milan, July 28

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    First Real Madrid, now Chelsea. AC Milan have chosen a tough set of preseason friendlies, going head-to-head against some of the biggest powerhouses in Europe.

    Despite it only being preseason, both sides will be looking to win this match and gain bragging rights before the season even starts. Like I said before, AC Milan will have to prove that they can carry on without Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. Chelsea will want to bounce back from their loss to the MLS All-Stars which saw some sloppy defending. 

    No matter the starting lineups, this match should be a cracker, and will hopefully be a match-up we see in this season's Champions League.

Liverpool vs. Tottenham, July 28

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    If you haven't noticed, the best preseason friendlies are the fixtures that we're likely to see during the real season.

    Friendlies don't have much of a reflection on a team's campaign, but nonetheless fans love to see a sort of sneak peek of what's to come in the season. Tottenham vs Liverpool could be one of the most important matches in the fight for a European place this season, so when they face off in Baltimore the fans will be looking at every touch to see how their respective team does against Premier League opposition.

    In addition to this, some promising young talent should be on display from each side.

Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain, August 4

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    With the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, and Ezequiel Lavezzi, Paris Saint-Germain are officially the real deal.

    The Parisians now have one of the deadliest attacking forces in Europe, with the likes of Javier Pastore, Jeremy Menez, Ibrahimovic, Nene, and Lavezzi all spearheading PSG's attack. They've already come up against one European giant in preseason, drawing 1-1 to Chelsea, but how will they match up against what's arguably the best team in the world, if not one of the best club sides ever?

    Once again, this just a friendly—but this match has the potential to be huge for Paris Saint-Germain. They could either lose, which will be the result that most people expect despite Ancelotti's summer shopping spree; or they could win, and show the world what a rising football superpower looks like.

Tottenham vs. New York Red Bulls, July 31

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    As an Arsenal supporter, I must say Tottenham's preseason friendlies look like some good matches to follow. These two sides met last summer as well, and it proved to be a fierce competition as Spurs came back to win 2-1.

    Once again, this should be an exciting contest as both teams have some good attacking talent. Thierry Henry and Dane Richards just a few of some strong players on the Red Bulls, while Spurs have plenty of players looking to force their way into Andre Villas-Boas' starting lineup for their 2012-13 campaign.

    The MLS has proved that it's a league on the rise so far in the European preseason, and they have another chance to show that in this encounter.

Real Madrid vs. LA Galaxy, August 2

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    For Real Madrid, it's a friendly. For the MLS All-Stars, it's a chance to promote American soccer and show the world the league's quality.

    Already beating Chelsea 3-2 in a thrilling encounter, the MLS All-Star team will be looking to add to their scalps of European giants by beating the star-studded Real Madrid. If it's as good as the Chelsea match, this will definitely be a fixture to watch, with the likes of David Beckham and Thierry Henry likely to star for the MLS All-Stars. As well, the usual suspects will be shining for Madrid.

    Like I said before, this match will have a more competitive edge to it with the All-Stars eager to build on their impressive victory over Chelsea.

Juventus vs. Malaga, August 4

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    Coming off of an undefeated season which saw them win Serie A, Juventus now have to take it to the next level by impressing in the Champions League.

    Facing Malaga will be a good test for "the Old Lady," as both teams will be competing in the Champions League this season and will be looking to get some European experience beforehand. It probably won't be the most competitive of matches on this list, but I'm expecting it to be a good one, with each side having plenty of attacking flair to entertain us. 

    Despite Champions League football, Malaga face a tough season ahead as they look set to lose arguably their best player and are also apparently suffering from financial issues. Juventus, on the other hand, have to show that they weren't just a one-off this season and that they can continue to compete at the highest level.

Valencia vs. Tottenham, August 9

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    This should be a good match purely because we rarely, if ever, see these two teams play each other. 

    Andre Villas-Boas has some big shoes to fill as the Spurs manager, but has already made good strides in replacing Harry Redknapp with the signings of Jan Vertonghen and Glyfi Sigurdsson. I'm expecting this to be a relatively open and entertaining match, as neither side has the strongest of defenses but both have some exciting attackers.

    An English side against a Spanish side always proves to be a good contest, and I don't think this will be an exception.

Manchester United vs. Barcelona, August 8

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    This will undoubtedly be the most hyped preseason friendly of the summer, and it has good reason to be. 

    The last time these two teams played in a competitive match was the 2011 Champions League final, and the rest, as they say, is history. Always two of the best teams in the world, Barcelona and Manchester United both had setbacks in Europe this season—of different proportions, of course—and will be looking to bounce back immediately this season.

    In all honestly, these are two teams that people don't really know what to expect from in Europe this season. Barcelona are under a new manager and must show that their golden age isn't in decline after missing out on the 2012 Champions League trophy, while Manchester United have to rebound from a 2011-12 European nightmare of crashing out of the Champions League and Europa League.

    This obviously has the potential to be a great match, and could very well be one that we see again this year in the latter stages of the Champions League.