SuperSport are delighted to bring you two blockbuster fixtures this weekend, as the new seasons get underway in the UK and South Africa.
On Sunday, Liverpool and Manchester City collide in English football’s traditional curtain-raiser, as Wembley awaits the FA Community Shield.
The pre-season fixture typically pits the reigning champions of the Premier League against the FA Cup holders, but with Pep Guardiola’s City having clinched the double last term, they’ll be facing their nearest challengers domestically as last season’s champions meet the runners-up.
It’s a mouth-watering prospect, considering the tussle between the two last term, where both of their long undefeated streaks were put to the test during an intense title race between the pair.
They look likely to once again compete for English football’s grandest prize this term, and the Community Shield represents a fascinating insight into how these two are gearing up to take things to another level this season.
The Reds will be keen to put an underwhelming preseason, in which they’ve been on the receiving end of defeats and struggled to get any morale-boosting wins, behind them.
For City, the fixture represents an early opportunity to strike a psychological blow to the European champions; Guardiola’s team have already held off a Liverpool challenge to deny the Anfield giants a title, and will look to retain the advantage this weekend.
While Liverpool vs. City may be the blockbuster of the week, on Saturday, South Africa’s top flight—the PSL—gets underway with a series of engrossing ties.
The headline fixture of the opening day is Mamelodi Sundowns’ clash with SuperSport United, as the defending champions face a tough early examination.
The Tshwane Derby is always one of the biggest encounters of the season, although the Brazilians have long had the edge over their rivals.
The Brazilians have won 11 of the 15 matches since 2013, although SSU may be quietly confident after winning the clash earlier this year.
On that occasion, Grant Kekana and Lungu Ghampani scored the goals to secure a famous victory, but can United transition their recent promise into a sustained title challenge this season?
Coach Kaitano Tembo certainly thinks so.
“It is key for us to have a good start, but we have four tough games to begin with,” he told SuperSport. “Those games will map out the rest of our season.
“We always want to go out and compete and make sure we fight,” he added. “We are also in the mix of the teams who want to win the league.”
They’re outsiders for their opener, of course, but they may be quietly confident that they can capitalise on an unsettled pre-season for rivals Downs.
The future of coach Pitso Mosimane has been one of the key items on the agenda during recent weeks, with the manager reportedly unsettled at the club.
Does their relative lack of pre-season transfer business hint at a malaise or complacency within? Their opener against SSU will offer a fascinating glimpse into their relative strengths and weaknesses this term.
Mamelodi Sundowns vs SuperSport United kicks off at 15:00 (CAT) on Saturday on SS4 & SS10 (ROA) while the FA Community Shield kicks off at 16:00 (CAT) on Sunday on SS3 & SS10 (ROA).
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