Saturday's friendly at Fedex Field between the two European Champions League finalists is one of the biggest sporting events to come to D.C. in years. To give you a preview of the match, we turned to two experts: Manchester United blog The Busby Babe and FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes.
Gene Um of The Busby Babe previews Manchester United:
Despite this being pre-season for Manchester United, and also despite their 5-2 victory over last year's MLS All-Star squad, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has stated during this United States tour that his side "can't go into any game not wanting to win." Over the first two weeks of the tour, United have shown signs of gaining both form and fitness - and perhaps more importantly, no major injuries have caused hindrance. In addition, Mexican sensation Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez is due to join the club this week in New Jersey after being awarded additional rest after his national team duties.
During United's first three friendlies on this tour versus MLS sides, there has been no tactical experimentation - Ferguson has deployed a generic 4-4-2 shape in each match. United are a side that is versatile and fluid with their formations on a match-to-match basis, therefore, this could prove an opportune time to play in a 4-3-3 shape. It is possible that the manager targets this week to get some training done with a three-man central midfield
Arron Duckling of Barca Blaugrances previews FC Barcelona:
Barcelona are the reigning European Champions, and the match on Saturday is in fact a rematch of that very final, as the Blaugrana square off against Manchester United.
Disappointingly, Ballon D’Or holder Lionel Messi will not feature as he is on extended leave after the Copa America, while new signing Alexis Sanchez is unlikely to feature for the same reason. Club captain Carles Puyol is currently recovering from knee surgery, and vice-captain Xavi has been having a problem with tendonitis, in his Achilles tendon.
However, despite the list of players unavailable for Saturday’s exhibition match, Barcelona can still count on a whole host of star players. Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Pedro are all ready for this showcase, though my player to watch would be young Thiago Alcantara. Famously he scored from the half-way line in June, but most recently he was voted Player of the Tournament in the Audi Cup, scoring a brilliant goal against Bayern Munich along the way.
While neither team will be at full-strength, both will be looking to prove a point ahead of this coming season, and if you are lucky enough to get a ticket, you are most definitely in for a treat.