Who: Shanghai Shenhua v. Manchester United
When: Wednesday, July 25 7:00 a.m. EST
Where: Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai, China
Live Stream: FOX Soccer Channel, FOX Deportes
Manchester United touched down in Shanghai earlier this morning in preparation of their match against Shanghai Shenhua. The game is billed as a friendly, but the Red Devils will not be taking it lightly as Shanghai is the new home of ex-Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, a man they know all too well.
Manchester United is coming off a season in which they finished tied for the most points in the Barclay's Premier League, but lost the title to rival Manchester City. While they never really have to rebuild all that much, they are certainly looking to retool and take back the title from their hated rivals.
In their last two friendlies, they've earned a 1-0 win over AmaZula FC and a 1-1 draw against Ajax Cape Town. Look for them to try to improve in Shanghai and come out with a pretty competitive squad, even without Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs making the trip.
Shanghai is 1-2-2 in their five matches in July and sit in 12th place in the Chinese Super League with an overall record of 4-8-6. That mark is bound to improve as Drogba and other former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka make their marks on the team and the league.
Player to Watch:
23-year-old Shinji Kagawa became the most expensive Asian footballer to be signed when he transferred to Manchester United and was signed for €22 million. Look for him to try to make an impact as he is coming off of his first start with the club in their 1-1 draw against Ajax Cape Town.
Matchup to Watch:
For eight years, Manchester center back Rio Ferdinand battled (sometimes literally) with Drogba as the two helped their respective squads fight for supremacy in the EPL. While the match is billed as a friendly, I don't expect to see these two hugging it out at any point.
Drogba's play will be key if Shanghai wants to keep this game from being totally one-sided, and if there was anyone you would want back to stop him, Ferdinand would certainly be on the short list.
I expect the two of them to compete with the same tenacity they always have against one another.
One telling sign of how mismatched this game could be is that the second most predicted score on goal.com is an 8-0 Manchester United win. Obviously that is just fan predictions and the odds of that according to the same site are 501:1.
Regardless, Man U will be looking to assert their dominance in the biggest media market in the world, in front of what may be a very pro-Devil crowd.
Manchester United 4-1 Shanghai Shenhua