The 2013 Audi Cup kicks off on Wednesday. This year's competition Milan from Italy, Manchester City from England, and São Paulo from Brazil. This is third Audi Cup for Bayern, second for Milan, and first for both Manchester City and São Paulo.
The 2009 version of the competition was the first incarnation. Bayern edged Manchester United on penalties in the final while Boca Juniors did the same to Milan in the third place game. The 2011 competition was the Thiago Alcantara show with the former-Barcelona-now-Bayern midfielder scored twice to lead Barca to a 2-0 victory over Bayern in the final. Milan, once again, lose the third place match on penalties, this time to Internacional.
What will the 2013 version of the Audi Cup bring us? After the 4-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the DFL Supercup last weekend, Bayern could use a good result heading into the DFL Pokal this weekend and the Bundesliga starting next weekend.
Thiago showed poorly in the center of midfield against BVB, leading many to call for Pep to make a change and put a holding midfielder than can actually, you know, "hold" on the field in his stead and move Thiago further up the field. You can't argue Thiago's vision on the ball and his ability to pick out seemingly any pass that he wants, but his abilities to stifle the oppositions attack has left a lot to be desired.
Elsewhere, the other big change that needs to be made is that Dante needs to start in the center of defense next to Jerome Boateng. Daniel Van Buyten seemed to be in over his head in the Supercup, and it's time that Dante got back in the squad.
Lets' take a look at our opponents.
The Brazilians are currently struggling in their season with just 8 points out of 9 matches, so a few matches out of the country may be a good change of pace for their side. São Paulo are bringing former Bayern player Lucio along with other star players like Luis Fabiano, Jadson, and Paulo Henrique Ganso. They start the competition off with Bayern, so I don't see them pulling out a victory, at least in the first game. Perhaps, they'll steal a win in the third place game?
Milan finished a disappointing 15 points behind champions Juventus last season and are now forced into the playoff round to get into the group stage of the Champions League. Kevin Constant and Cristian Zapata's loans were made permanent after successful loan spells last season. What do we expect from this Milan side in the competition? I really have no idea. I expect a fun game between the Milanese and the Citizens though.
After a disappointing season where they bombed out of the Champions League in hilarious fashion and finished far behind rivals Manchester United, it's been a summer of transition for Manchester City. Roberto Mancini is out as manager with Chilean Manuel Pellegrini replacing him. Maican, Carlos Tevez, and Kolo Toure were shown the door out of England. Reinforcements in the form of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, and Stevan Jovetic were purchased in an attempt to improve the club.