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Manchester United And Barcelona To Face Off In U.S. In July 2011

I’ll soon find out whether Santa Claus has deemed me naughty or nice this year, but it looks like Christmas has come early for me and United fans based in North America, in the form of a rather fantastic news announcement today.

Barcelona, who, if you haven’t heard or seen by now, are pretty darn good, announced today that they’ll be touring the United States next summer, and one of their friendlies will be against United in Washington, D.C. on July 30.

Now, it doesn’t appear that we’ll be seeing the likes of Lionel Messi, Dani Alves (if he’s still even a Barcelona player by that time), or Javier Mascherano, as the 2011 Copa America wraps up on July 24, and there’s a more than fair chance hosts Argentina could meet two-time defending champions Brazil in the final for a third tournament in a row. On that note, the close proximity of the dates of the Copa America and United’s stop(s) in the U.S. could mean that United could be without Anderson and the Da Silva twins (if anyone of them are selected for Brazil’s squad), Chicharito, who will have a role to play in Mexico’s hopes for a deep run, and Antonio Valencia, who will be 100% by then and ready to help Ecuador’s cause.

Still, even without some of those notable names, and perhaps others due to injury or rest, it promises to be a must-see match and an excellent tune-up for United ahead of the 2011/12 season. Preseason friendlies always offer up an opportunity for the young players to show what they’re made of, but you can expect (or hope, at least) to see the likes of Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Nani, David Villa, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and perhaps the new faces that each side has signed up to that point (like Manchester United’s new #1 keeper…but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves), and that will be well worth the price of admission.

The two are familiar with one another, having faced off in the Champions League semifinals in 2007/08 and in the final in 2008/09, with United squeaking through in the former and Barcelona earning their revenge in the latter, and perhaps there a third Champions League meeting in four seasons is in store ahead of the friendly in D.C., but both will have to navigate through at least one knockout round for that to be in the cards.

If you’re a North American-based United fanatic like I am, this is exciting news, whether or not you’ve had a chance to see United on any of their forays across the pond over the last several years. I was pretty disappointed to not be able to make it to any of United’s matches in North America last summer, but I definitely won’t be missing out on this one, if I have any say in the matter.

There’s also been talk of United playing in Chicago as well, but there’s been no confirmation of that as of yet. If, as one would assume, this is part of another multiple-match U.S./North American tour for United, it’ll be interesting to see which cities are in the mix.

I might be a little biased as I’m moving to the area (for culinary school, but enough about me), and I also like to humor myself a little in the middle of a slow day, but I wonder how much thought has been put into a friendly at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Or would that be a considered a home game for United? And naturally, because I was there on Sunday for the Buccaneers’ game (feel free to pelt me with virtual stones for putting money in the Glazers’ pockets – depending on your view of United’s finances, that may be doing more good than harm), I can’t help but visualize the Buccaneers’ cannon going off after each United goal.

And yes, I did just go there. A little too far? Probably, but it’s just my excitement talking.