Audi Cup 2013: Previewing Thursday's Third-Place and Championship Matches

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Audi Cup 2013: Previewing Thursday's Third-Place and Championship Matches
Victor Fraile/Getty Images

The 2013 Audi Cup might be only be a two-day event, but it's been nothing short of spectacular with half of the tournament already in the book. 

Manchester City took down AC Milan in a high-scoring affair (5-3) in the first match of the tournament. The second-place finishers from the 2012-13 Premier League season put up five goals against Milan and withstood a late charge to earn their place in the championship game. 

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In a defensive-minded struggle, Bayern Munich toppled Sao Paulo 2-0 in Wednesday's other match. The Bundesliga champions dominated possession in the first half and scored both of their goals in the match in the second half to clinch the other spot in the final. 

AC Milan will battle Sao Paulo in the consolation game on Thursday, while Munich and City will aim to win the third Audi Cup trophy. 

Don't blink—you might miss the final two matches of this abbreviated preseason tournament. Here's a complete preview for the final two matches of the 2013 Audi Cup. 

 

Third Place Match

Who: Sao Paulo vs. AC Milan

When: Thursday, Aug. 1, at Noon ET

Where: Allianz ArenaMunichGermany

Watch: ESPN 2

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Milan might be missing their most exciting player (Mario Balotelli) at the Audi Cup this year, but they reminded us on Thursday that they can still fill it up. 

GIF via Feint Zebra

Stephan El Shaarawy had a brace and Andrea Petagna added another score just before the half to give Milan hope that they would find a way to knock off one of the EPL favorites for the upcoming season. 

That hope never came. 

Just like Sao Paulo against Munich, Milan did not score in the second half against the Citizens. The two losing clubs will square off on Thursday in a match that will technically be for third place, but with just four matches total at the Audi Cup, going 0-2 would be particularly devastating. 

As noted by Sky Sports' Paulo Freitas, Sao Paulo did not win a match in July. They will look to start August off on a stronger note against Milan:

Milan will return to the United States after this match; the Serie A club has two more matches remaining in their commitment to the International Champions Cup. After beating Valencia on Saturday, Milan will face the winner of Chelsea and Inter Milan's Thursday tussle in Indianapolis. 

According to the team's Twitter account, Balotelli and three other club stars will be making the trip for Milan's final two games in America:

Without the possibility of winning the Audi Cup trophy, it wouldn't be surprising to see both Paulo Autuori and Massimiliano Allegri use the match to toy with lineups in preparing for more pressing matches later this year. 

The real fireworks will occur in the Audi Cup final. 

 

Finals

Who: Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City

When: Thursday, Aug. 1, at 2:15 p.m. ET

Where: Allianz ArenaMunichGermany

Watch: ESPN 2

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Although it will go down in the history books as a preseason friendly, Wednesday's Audi Cup matches do not lend to the idea that the tournament final between City and Munich will go off without a hitch. 

In fact, this match could be one of the best of the summer. 

City dominated the first 30 minutes of their match against Milan on Wednesday. New Citizen Stevan Jovetic looked strong in his debut for the club, and Edin Dzeko had a brace to give City a 5-0 lead before Milan could really blink. 

As noted above, Milan did not concede defeat. After scoring three goals to more than cut the deficit in half, Milan was unable to find a fourth and fifth score to send the match to extra time. Although the club has to be happy with the win, their manager was not happy with the defensive effort. 

City's Twitter account had this post on Wednesday confirming that Manuel Pellegrini is demanding better defense from his team in preparation for their final Audi Cup match (and beyond):

With Arjen RobbenFranck RiberyBastian Schweinsteiger and others looming in their next match, the Citizens will have to play a better brand of football on the defensive side of the field to avoid being carved to shreds by Munich's experienced set of attackers. 

The Citizens will also have to contend with Munich's new spark plug off the bench—Mario Mandzukic. With four goals in his last five matches, Mandzukic continues to shine for Pep Guardiola when appearing as a substitute for the defending German champions. 

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In controlling the pace and the flow of the match against Sao Paulo, Munich reminded us all that they are extremely tough to beat when clicking on all cylinders. 

Both sides missed chances to score in their opening Audi Cup matches. The club that capitalizes on scoring chances in the first half has a great chance to walk away from the Allianz Arena with some serious momentum heading into their league season. 

Which team will win the 2013 Audi Cup?

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The 2013 Audi Cup might go down in the books as four preseason friendlies, but the first two matches at the tournament could have been easily confused with a battle of two teams in the Champions League (if Sao Paulo were allowed to compete in it, of course).

It would be shocking to see two clubs who pride themselves on competitive football take Thursday's match for granted with a trophy on the line.  

 

Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter. 

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