What happened in the 2023-24 football pre-season?
For most, the Summer months of June – August are the best of the year, boasting hot sunny days and endless opportunities for entertainment. However, for football fans across the UK & Europe, the 8-week top league break is a dreaded time as they navigate the absence of their beloved sport. Whilst the notifications of the transfer market provide scarce enjoyment, football fans must find other sources of entertainment to fill the void or fall into a mild mid-summer seasonal depression.
Many fans turn to pre-season friendlies to satisfy their football-orientated social life, running from early July to the start of August. So, let’s look into what happened during the 2023-2024 pre-season, which usually gets little coverage. And ahead of the football season, you can use this 20% Nike discount code to level up your Match Day wardrobe.
Why is pre-season a thing?
Pre-season matches originate from allowing managers to shape up their squad, introduce the new signs from the transfer window and analyse players’ fitness levels. Since then, pre-season matches for larger clubs have become more of a ‘tour’, helping spread the club’s reach and tap into new fan bases, delivering an essential source of revenue mid-transfer market.
Top League Clubs
Many of the larger clubs enjoy travelling to far-away lands to play their international pre-season friendlies; this gives overseas fans a chance to see their favourite club in a more accessible location to them.
Lower League Clubs
Pre-season friendlies boast an excellent opportunity to support smaller, local clubs whilst away from the dramatic excellence of the Premier League. Smaller teams thrive from community involvement, so pre-season games are key fixtures. They attract football-deprived fans into the summer sun to socialise, support their local team and become more involved in the community.
Top fixtures to see this pre-season
MLS All-Stars v Arsenal – 0-5
Audi Field, Washington DC [20th July]
Arsenal hammered Wayne Rooney’s MLS All-Stars, securing an impressive 5-0 victory to kick off their pre-season. Gabriel Jesus got the goal-fest into action, scoring in the 5th minute, followed by Trossard with a goal in the 23rd.
Just after the start of the second half, Arsenal won a penalty, which is put home by Jorginho. Garbel Martinelli and a new signing from Chelsea, Kai Havertz, seal the deal with goals in the 84th and 89th minutes.
MLS All-Stars chances were few and far between, and none of them made their way past Aaron Ramsdale.
Barcelona v Juventus – CANCELLED
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara [22nd July]
This hugely anticipated pre-season friendly was a part of the Soccer Champions Tour, featuring Real Madrid, Manchester City and Arsenal. It would’ve proven an excellent opportunity for both teams to test new signings ahead of the new season.
Unfortunately, the game with cancelled due to a virus affecting some of the Barcelona players.
The cancellation is undoubtedly a disappointment to both clubs and their fans, but players’ health must come first.
Arsenal v Man United – 0-2
MetLife Stadium, New York [22nd July]
Man United kicked their pre-season off with a bang, beating Arsenal 2-0 in front of a record crowd in New Jersey. Brun Fernandes and Jadon Sancho both scored goals for United, who showed dominance for much of the game.
Arsenal certainly had their chances but could not find their way past de Gea in goal.
Despite the 2-0 victory for United, the game still went to penalties. It was decided before kick-off that regardless of the result, the game would end with a shootout as Mikel Arteta and Ten Hag were keen to see their teams practice penalty spot-kicks.
Manchester United v Wrexham – 1-3
Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego [26th July]
Wrexham’s Ryan Reynolds and Rob Mcelhenney joined Sir Alex Ferguson to announce their game during the tour of the United States.
Recently promoted League 2 side Wrexham defeated Manchester United with a 3-1 shock victory. Their lower-league opposition simply outplayed United. Wrexham took the lead in the first half through Elliot Lee, with the advantage then doubled by Aaron Hayden early in the second half.
Marc Jurado brought United back into the game with a goal, but this was futile with Sam Dalby scoring a third and final goal for Wrexham, sealing the victory.
Man Utd v Real Madrid – 0-3
AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX [29th July]
Manchester United were humiliated after a 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly in Texas. The Spanish side were clinical in front of goal, with Karim Benzema scoring twice and Federico Valverde adding a third.
The performance of Jadon Sancho needs to be mentioned. The English winger was one of the few bright sparks for United, creating more chances than any other player in the match (5). Sancho hopes to build on this performance when the Premier League season starts next month.
The game was played in front of over 80,000 people, making it the biggest pre-season friendly the AT&T Stadium has ever seen.
Man City v Atletico Madrid – 1-2
World Cup Stadium, Seoul [30th July]
Manchester City lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in a rainy friendly in Seoul. The Spanish side took the lead in the 66th minute through Memphis Depay, and Yannick Carrasco doubled the advantage in the 74th minute.
Ruben Dias pulled one back for City in the 84th minute. Still, with the lack of an equaliser from City in the closing minutes, it was not enough to prevent a defeat for the Treble winners..
Inter Milan v PSG – 2-1
Japan National Stadium, Tokyo [1st August]
Inter Milan and PSG played their pre-season friendly in Japan’s National Stadium, Tokyo ending Inter 2 – 1 PSG.
PSG’s Vitinha took the lead in the 64th minute, but this was soon equalised with a goal from Lautaro Martinez in the 78th minute. Alex Sanchez then took the lead for Inter with an 88th-minute winning goal, a significant confidence boost for Inter Milan ahead of the new season.
As always in pre-season, both teams used the games as opportunities to test new players. Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukake made his debut for the club and looked dangerous, whilst PSG’s new signing Luis Campos also made an appearance.
Chelsea v Borussia Dortmund – 1-1
Soldier Field, Chicago, 3rd August,
Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund played a thrilling pre-season friendly in Chicago, the final stop of Chelsea’s tour of the USA. Although the scoreline drew at 1-1, Chelsea showed dominance with possession throughout most of the game. Despite this, they didn’t take the lead until Mason Burstow scored his first senior goal for the club late in the second half.
To Chelsea fans’ dismay, Dortmund’s Marius Wolf equalised in the closing minutes, leaving the game level at full-time.
Despite a disappointing result, the pre-season games proved an excellent opportunity for both teams to integrate their new signings into the squad and get some well-needed minutes ahead of the new season.
Liverpool v Bayern Munich – 3-4
National Stadium, Singapore, 2nd August.
After a successful visit last year, the Premier League’s Liverpool FC suffered a brutal 4-3 loss against Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich on Wednesday, 2nd August, during the week-long Singapore Festival of Football.
Liverpool started strong with goals from Gakpo and newly acquired Captain Virgil Van Dijk in the early first half. To Liverpool fans’ disappointment, Bayern brings the score line level with a goal from Serge Gnabry and an equaliser from Leroy Sane.
The 2nd half saw a battle between the sides; Liverpool took the lead in the 66th minute with a lovely third goal from Luis Diaz. Josip Stanisic quickly equalised this for Bayern.
With just 4 minutes added time, Frans Kratzig pokes home the final goal of the match in the 91st minute, bringing this absolute goal fest to a bitter end for Liverpool supporters.
How has pre-season affected this season?
The 2023-24 football pre-season has been injury-ridden, with fair few high-profile players picking up injuries. This has had a knock-on effect on the new season, with some teams making late changes to their lineups.
Pre-season is a fantastic chance for teams and their managers to test new tactics, formations and introduce new signings to the squad. It’s essential for building fitness ahead of the new season but equally important to ensure players are being rotated to avoid any major injuries carrying over, like what’s happened this time.