Correction to This Article
This article misidentified Brian Kidd, assistant manager of the Manchester City team, as Roberto Mancini, the team's manager.

Manchester City and Inter Milan square off in Baltimore

By Jorge Castillo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 31, 2010

Don't tell the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees or New Orleans Saints, but none of them can claim the distinction of being the world's most popular championship club. Not by a long shot.

That distinction goes to Italian soccer power Inter Milan, winner of the Champions League in May. Saturday night, Baltimore will play host to the decorated champion when it battles rising English Premier League power Manchester City in a preseason friendly at M&T Bank Stadium.

Several players on both sides, including City's David Silva, Carlos Tévez, Nigel de Jong and Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder, will not be in uniform as they take time off after the World Cup. Still, a majority of the teams' starters are expected to play and around 35,000 fans are expected to attend in the wake of the sport's biggest event, which had soccer in a rare spot: hogging the American headlines.

Several European teams have been tuning up for their seasons in the United States, including the world's most popular club, Manchester United, which defeated Major League Soccer's all-stars, 5-2, in Houston on Wednesday with a reserve-loaded roster.

"The young'uns played against the Red Bulls [last Sunday], which for me was a fantastic experience, when the young players come out and got time to play," Manchester City Coach Roberto Mancini said"And it was a fantastic experience for them."

Young players might primarily make up the side against Inter, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"The players have shown that they've got the temperament to rub shoulders with the first-team players," Mancini said. "So for me a great thing has been the temperament of the young players."

Mancini also will not be at Saturday's game after he suddenly left the team for Italy later Friday because of a family illness, the Associated Press reported.

Manchester City is coming off a penalty-kick victory over Mexico's Club America in Atlanta and has played in three preseason matches in the United States in the past week. Saturday will be Inter's first preseason game.

Both teams had busy offseasons for different reasons. Disappointed with its fifth-place finish in the Premier League, which leaves the club just outside of the Champions League next year, Manchester City has been aggressive in the transfer market. The club has brought in several players, including Silva and Jérôme Boateng, and may make further changes.

The team is rumored to be in pursuit of several players, including Landon Donovan, and reportedly is on the verge of acquiring 19-year-old Inter striker Mario Balotelli to a five-year deal. The acquisition would push the team's spending over the $150 million mark.

Mancini would not comment on the potential addition of Donovan, except to say, "When you sign on the dotted line, that's when they start talking about you."

On the other hand, Inter's major change wasn't by choice. Coach Jose Mourinho resigned after the team's Champions League victory to manage Real Madrid. Saturday's match will be Rafael Benitez's first as Inter manager.

City has lost two of three in its U.S. preseason tour and will head back across the Atlantic after Saturday for a Ferrostaal Cup game against Borussia Dortmund. The team will play a friendly against Valencia on Aug. 7 before opening the EPL season against Tottenham on Aug. 14.

Inter will travel to Toronto to play Greek club Panathinaikos on Tuesday and to Dallas to play MLS's FC Dallas.

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