Guardiola and Mourinho face off in Beijing
Today sees a Manchester derby in China. In other words: Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho, face to face. It comes courtesy of the International Champions Cup, a sort of mega summer tournament that brings together the cream of European football: that clutch of clubs that boast 80%, if not more, of the world's best players. An ever so slightly OTT conception, in true American style (its promoter is Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins), that capitalises on the now definitive globalisation of the beautiful game. All the sides who take part are of worldwide appeal, among other things because of the inter-movement of the protagonists.
Guardiola vs. Mourinho
We need look no further than this encounter between Manchester City and Manchester United in Beijing. It's a match-up which is of no little interest to us Spaniards, as it pits Guardiola against Mourinho; a pair of managers whose LaLiga rivalry as head coaches of Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively, was - in the eyes of many - left unsettled. Either way, it was a ferocious, exciting duel. Since leaving these shores, neither has enjoyed unblemished fortunes. Guardiola was unable to deliver the Champions League at Bayern Munich, while Mourinho's second tenure at Chelsea was a mix of success and abject failure.
So many appetising duels
It's only pre-season and teams are still coming together, but this unusual tournament played on three fronts has the boon of the impression something's at stake. And it's a money-spinner. Ross has exploited the interest there is in so many intertwined sources of intrigue: for example, Bayern meet Real in a master-and-pupil bout between Ancelotti and Zidane, while we'll also see Real-PSG in the first big test of Unai Emery's early progress in Paris. Chelsea-Liverpool, too: a clash of in-vogue bosses in Conte and Klopp. They're not 'real' matches, but that touch of US marketing ingenuity has brought a bit of edge. And, at the very least, livens up the wait.
Since this editorial went to press, the International Champions Cup fixture between Manchester City and Manchester United has been cancelled.
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