John Terry #26 of Chelsea controls the ball in the game against AC Milan. Chelsea plays Manchester City in the 2012 FA Community Shield on August 12, 2012. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chelsea and Manchester City provide the ceremonial kickoff for the English football season on Sunday.
Chelsea and Manchester City play in England's inaugural season kick-off match on Sunday, a friendly that the Football Association chooses to glorify by putting it on television and presenting the winner with a gigantic plate called the Community Shield. It's always taken semi-seriously, with each team playing mostly-but-not-completely first teams and going at about 80 percent speed.
Last season's Community Shield featured some late heroics from Nani in Manchester United's 3-2 win over City and was a sign of things to come, both good and bad, for David De Gea. City eventually got the last laugh by winning a couple of Manchester Derbies and a Premier League title, while United struggled in the first half of the season.
Chelsea finished sixth in the Premier League last season, but qualified for this match by virtue of winning the FA Cup. They significantly improved their side in the summer, adding a number of young attacking threats. The biggest one of those threats, Eden Hazard, should start the match. Marko Marin is expected to start on the bench, while Oscar is still with the Brazilian Olympic team.
Manchester City are without Micah Richards and Gareth Barry for the match, but should play a strong team. They haven't bought anyone this summer, mostly because they have more professional players that they can fit into their 25-man squad. Roberto Mancini isn't too happy about this, but the board doesn't have any reason to let him buy new players if Mancini and his staff haven't found suitors for the players that they need to sell.
Since Wembley Stadium is being used for the London 2012 Olympics, the game will be held at Villa Park in Birmingham. It's the first time since 1973 that the game has been held somewhere other than Wembley or the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Kickoff is at 8:30 a.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. local.
Projected Manchester City Lineup (4-2-2-2): Joe Hart; Aleksandar Kolorov; Joleon Lescott, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta; Nigel De Jong, Yaya Toure; Samir Nasri, David Silva; Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli