The annual ritual continues as Arsenal travel to the Allianza Arena.
Having announced that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will start on the right instead of the middle, we can generally expect a reasonably conservative, combative approach to this game, aimed at conceding as few as possible.
Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin are likely to start in the middle, against a fearsome trio of Xabi Alonso, Arturo Vidal and Thiago. Mesut Ozil’s role will be especially important, not only offensively, but also in terms of disrupting the flow of Alonso.
While the defence is finally first choice again, Arsene Wenger has a decision to make with the wingers – Ox will start on the right, but on the left, he can play the tenacious Danny Welbeck, or perhaps the more chaotic Alex Iwobi.
So how do we stop the front three of Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben? It might be an idea for one of the holding midfielders to constantly stick to Muller, who drifts in and out of space pockets. This will leave the back four free to deal with the other attackers.
Offensively, it looks like a counter-based strategy will suffice – Ox’s ability to ball carry, combined with Ozil’s favouring of the counter, will prove crucial. Will Sanchez be able to get in behind?
The key matchup today will simply be in the midfield – whoever wins in the centre of the park, will win today’s match.
Oh, how we miss Santi Cazorla!