Manchester City and Liverpool famously finished first and second in last season's Premier League table. Famously, because the title was quite literally Liverpool's to lose with a few matches left to play.
That Liverpool contrived to lose it must still send shudders down the spines of the Pool faithful.
A quick peek at the 2014-15 Premier League schedule reveals that City will host Liverpool at the Etihad on Aug. 25, or less than a month after the sides' coming Guinness International Champions Cup friendly at Yankee Stadium.
So if you were Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini or Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, how much of what you may be planning for that August encounter will you be showing in an exhibition?
Neither of these clubs much wants to lose to the other, even in a friendly. But aside from the normal "keep them healthy" concerns that managers always have in these situations, Pellegrini and Rodgers have strategic issues to consider here.
As a result, you can reasonably expect Pellegrini's XI for this Liverpool match on Wednesday to be consistent with the selections he has made for City's past two American friendlies. And you can surely expect that City will employ a predictable formation and vanilla tactics.
Besides, everything Pellegrini and his charges are doing as of late is working just fine.
City ran Sporting Kansas City off their home pitch on July 23, then hung four goals on AC Milan in less than half an hour in City's recent Guinness International Champions Cup opener. You know what they say about what to do if it ain't broke.
"I think it was a very good game for our team," Pellegrini said after the AC Milan match, according to Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It's important to win and also important to score five goals. Not only that, I feel like we played with a good pace and that for me is important."
The only wild card to this analysis is the location of this match against the locations of the last two.
Kansas City is a passionate enough Major League Soccer town, but Pittsburgh is not as was evidenced by the rows and rows of empty seats at Heinz Field for City's woodshedding of AC Milan.
Regardless, neither Kansas City nor Pittsburgh is New York.
Couple New York's status as an American city with a significant international population with Manchester City's imminent debut of New York City FC, and you have to think that Manchester City's power center may decide to have Pellegrini dress and perhaps even play some of the club's biggest stars.
It is one thing to have Jesus Navas and Gael Clichy be the biggest names in the City XI in the American Midwest and Rust Belt. It is quite another to deprive a major market like New York of City's stars when City are hoping to cultivate that market in MLS in the very near future.
Pellegrini must be looking forward to the beginning of the 2014-15 Premier League season. All he really needs to think about then is putting the best available XI on the pitch.
For now, though, Pellegrini has to manage the next match on the calendar with an eye toward another match a month from now and the creation of a team in another league thereafter.
Manchester City's predicted XI against Liverpool: Joe Hart; Micah Richards, Dedryck Boyata, Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy; Fernando, Javi Garcia, Yaya Toure, Jesus Navas; Stevan Jovetic, Kelechi Iheanacho.
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