Manchester United v Boca Juniors, Audi Cup, July 29, 2009
The Amsterdam Tournament and the Emirates Cup have been established over recent years and this summer we have seen the start of the Wembley Cup and now the Audi Cup, which could also become fixtures of the pre-season campaign.
Fresh from scoring eight against Hangzhou Greentown on Sunday and 16 in four games on the Asia tour, United face their most difficult games of the summer so far against Boca Juniors on Wednesday and will then progress to the 3rd/4th place play-off or the final depending on how they get on against the Argentine giants.
With the second game against either Bayern Munich or AC Milan it should be an entertaining tournament and Sir Alex Ferguson will be careful to use as many substitutions as possible with the two games on consecutive days.
The big story of pre-season for United has undoubtedly been Michael Owen. Little Mickey (5/4 to score) has scored four goals in four games in Asia and despite the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez there is still much optimism in the strikers available at Old Trafford.
Owen should guarantee goals and it is already clear from the games so far that both Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov (5/1 to score first) will take on a whole lot more responsibility this coming season. Federico Machedaâ€™s (6/4 to score) emergence alongside Danny Welbeck (currently with the England Under-19 side at the European Championship) means Ferguson has an excellent blend of strikers to call upon.
The United squad will be further bolstered by Nemanja Vidic and Luis Antonio Valencia who did not go on the Asia tour and there is no doubt the Red Devils still have a quality squad to deal with a competition such as this one.
Boca Juniors will have their work cut out, it has been a disappointing time of late for the Buenos Aires giants as is illustrated by the return of coach Alfio Basile to return the club to former glories.
The Clausura campaign finished with Boca in a lowly 14th position and the club are undergoing a summer clear-out. Rodrigo Palacio has left for Genoa to try his luck in Europe and defender Gabriel Paletta is set for a move to Palermo.
Nevertheless the likes of Roman Riquelme (11/4 to score) and Martin Palermo (9/4 to score)need no introduction and both, on their day, could trouble even a defence of Unitedâ€™s quality. Riquelme was last week linked with a move to Corinthians in Brazil and like former United legend Teddy Sheringham, the former Villareal schemer is likely to play on for many years as he canâ€™t lose the pace he never had.
With Unitedâ€™s central midfielders questioned since being outplayed by Iniesta and Xavi in the Champions League final, it will also be intriguing to see how new Boca signing Gary Medel (11/2 to score) fares. The Chilean midfielder is one of the hottest prospects in South America and a good season in Argentina followed by the World Cup could see Medel become a familiar face.
Even without Ronaldo and Tevez, there is still a continuity at United that other clubs cannot match â€“ Ryan Giggs claimed a second half hat-trick on Sunday. Unitedâ€™s opponents are in transition more than Sir Alex Fergusonâ€™s side and it would take a brave man to back Boca to reach Thursdayâ€™s final.
101gg predicts: Manchester United 2 â€“ Boca Juniors 0 (5/1)
Full match odds here.