Unless your name is Phil Foden, breaking into the Manchester City first team via the academy route is a monumental challenge, so it was refreshing to see a plethora of Guardiola’s up-and-coming starlets handed opportunities to impress against Preston.
However, it would be a more familiar name in Riyad Mahrez who drew first blood in the 25th minute of that encounter before 18-year-old attacker Samuel Edozie made sure of the result, coming off the bench at half time to double his side’s tally in a comfortable 2-0 success.
The Citizens were due to travel across the channel to face fellow City Football Group outfit Troyes this weekend, but with the coronavirus pandemic still raging and travel restrictions presenting barriers too difficult to overcome, Guardiola’s side will instead stay at home to continue their preparations.
Saturday’s game technically marks Man City’s final pre-season encounter before their competitive campaign gets underway against Leicester City in the Community Shield,
but Guardiola will return to Camp Nou later in August for a charity fixture against Barcelona, who will dearly hope to have Lionel Messi donning the Catalan colours after persistent links with Man City.
Bigger things ultimately came calling for Valerien Ismael, who led Barnsley to the unlikeliest of playoff positions last season, and Markus Schopp has some big boots to fill at Oakwell for the 2021-22 season.
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The 47-year-old did oversee back-to-back wins over Rochdale and Sheffield Wednesday to kick the summer off on a high note, but last Friday’s encounter against Morecambe saw the sides play out a drab goalless stalemate, despite the Tykes’ dominance.
As is the case with their upcoming opponents Man City, Barnsley were instead due to renew hostilities with Watford on Saturday, but that fixture at Vicarage Road was cancelled entirely as Schopp’s crop prepare to test their skills against the best of the best.
The showdown with the Premier League champions marks Barnsley’s final pre-season encounter before they kick off Championship proceedings against Cardiff City on August 7, but it would take an extreme amount of mettle for the Tykes to finish the exhibition period unbeaten