This summer's International Champions Cup gets underway on Thursday evening, with Milan taking on Olympiacos at BMO Field in Toronto to open the tournament proceedings.
The Rossoneri return to North America after clinching a third-place finish at last year's inaugural competition, while this will be Olympiacos' first attempt at leaving a Greek impression on some of the world's elite.
It may be little more than friendly preparation for the 2014-15 campaign, but any contest assembling eight of the world's best and brightest under one roof has to be treated with some element of the spectacular.
Milan and Olympiacos have a pressure on their shoulders as the only teams set to entertain in Canadian surroundings, with viewing details of the fixture and match preview detailed ahead.
Date: Thursday, July 24
Time: 1 a.m. BST (Friday, July 25)/8 p.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports 1 (UK), ESPN Deportes (US), Fox Sports 1 (US)
Key Players to Watch
Milan: Hachim Mastour
It's a casually accepted affliction in modern football coverage that heaping expectation on the prodigies of today ultimately makes their burden that much more difficult, but we persevere in doing so anyway.
Sixteen-year-old Hachim Mastour is a starlet drawing that very same kind of coverage at the San Siro of late, and his inclusion in Filippo Inzaghi's pre-season tour squad is astounding.
Coming on as a late substitute against Monza earlier this week, Mastour found the time to make an impact with a superb assist to set up Alessandro Mastalli:
Mastour may come upon his first starting berth at some point in the International Champions Cup, but expect the attacker to pose a threat on the Olympiacos defence, regardless of just how long it is that he gets to play.
Olympiacos: Jose Holebas
Despite winning the Greek Super League by 17 points last season, one may still be right to question the quality of Olympiacos' squad when pitted against the rest of Europe's more revered giants.
Jose Holebas is one individual, though, who continuously gives the impression that he could feature at a higher standard, with ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan taking note of his talent during Greece's World Cup round-of-16 clash against Costa Rica:
Holebas now about only Greek player creating anything. Being double-marked even though Costa Rica have just 10.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 29, 2014
WhoScored.com illustrates just what an attacking presence the left-back was in that fixture, while The Guardian's Richard Jolly hints his forward runs verge on the irresponsible:
José Holebas: No player has attempted more crosses in a single match than Holebas (16 vs Costa Rica) at the 2014 World Cup #gre— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) June 30, 2014
@Sleepy_Nik Ah, Holebas. Very good going forward. If only someone told him he was supposed to be a left-back...— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) July 13, 2014
If Holebas can bring his surges down the flank into balance with a more rigid stature without the ball, he has the potential to be an extremely promising asset at full-back.
On Thursday, this worth will be tested greatly by Milan, whose focus on running things down the wings with an intent of supplying frequent ball toward their lone striker will make for a pivotal battleground.
Stephan El Shaarawy vs. Eric Abidal
Returning from a long-term injury this summer, Stephan El Shaarawy is almost like a new signing for Inzaghi to look forward to, while on Olympiacos' borders, Eric Abidal is a legitimate new squad presence.
Very much doing away with the notion that Ligue 1 was to be his retirement home, Abidal showed at Monaco that he can still compete at the top level.
Per BBC Sport, Olympiacos may regret not being able to sign the veteran for free, but the Greek champions have nevertheless made an astute signing by grabbing the full-back, who could come into direct contact with El Shaarawy in Toronto.
In terms of speed, the Italian has a distinct advantage over his marker, but former Barcelona defender Abidal brings a wealth of tactical and positional reasoning to the table. It will be intriguing to see just how much of Milan's ammunition comes from his flank.