There is plenty of excitement surrounding the International Champions Cup tournament, and if the opening clash between AC Milan and Valencia is any indication, this event could develop into something special.
Milan and Valencia went head-to-head on Saturday in Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain. And while the home team was upended by a 2-1 score, the fans certainly weren't upset by the quality of soccer they had the pleasure of witnessing.
The scoring got started about midway through the first half, as Brazilian star Robinho converted to make it 1-0 in favor of Milan, according to A.C. Milan's official Twitter account.
Robinho had squandered a penalty opportunity just one minute earlier, but he made up for it and put Milan on a winning path.
Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong added another for the Italian side in the first half, and it was one of the prettiest goals that you could ever see. De Jong struck the ball from well outside the 18-yard box, and it proceeded to curl into the upper right corner of the net.
Valencia didn't go quietly, as Dani Parejo scored in the second half to pull to within one. Los Che continued to press after that, generating a number of opportunities to equalize.
After hitting the post twice, however, Valencia could never tally a second goal. Milan escaped with a win, but more importantly, the ICC got off to a rousing start.
While many soccer fans are excited to see some of the best teams in the world compete in an eight-team bracket, there was some concern about how high the quality of play would be. After all, this is the offseason for most club teams across the world, and there is a possibility that they could opt to utilize their reserves.
Milan and Valencia played as if the match truly meant something, though, and it was great to see that type of dedication in a new tournament. If every team plays as hard as Milan and Valencia did on Saturday, then the ICC could become one of the premier exhibition tournaments in the world.
Will the ICC become a celebrated club tournament?
As great as Milan vs. Valencia was, some of the upcoming matches could be even better as the tournament shifts to the United States.
Chelsea is scheduled to take on Inter, while Everton will face Juventus. Also, in an intriguing David vs. Goliath contest, the defending MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy will go up against Real Madrid.
Even if Los Angeles vs. Real Madrid ends up being a laugher in Los Blancos' favor, seeing how the United States' best team measures up to an elite European team should be a fun proposition. Also, there are plenty of spectacular matches that could occur later on in the tournament, including Chelsea vs. Real Madrid.
Oftentimes, these types of events are scrapped after one edition because they don't play out as anticipated, but it seems like that may not be an issue for the ICC. With club seasons coming up, the hope is that every team involved will treat these matches as serious tune-ups for the matches that truly matter in the coming weeks.
Also, fan interest is of the utmost importance. This tournament has gotten a great deal of publicity already, and fans will gravitate toward it if high-level play continues. Milan and Valencia did the ICC a great service, but it is up to the other teams to build on that momentum.
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