August 7, 2013
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
It's the game we all wanted to see when the International Champions Cup slate was announced: Real Madrid versus Chelsea.
It's Jose Mourinho facing his former club. It's a slew of elite players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Isco, Mesut Oezil, Karim Benzema, David Luiz, Frank Lampard, Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.
And it's arguably the two most talented teams in this competition (though an in-form Juventus might argue that point).
It's going to be fun, folks. Let's break it down.
When: Wednesday, August 7 at 9 p.m. ET (Thursday, August 8 at 2 a.m. BST)
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
Watch: FOX Soccer
Streaming: FOX Soccer 2Go
What They're Saying
While there is a trophy at stake and Mourinho faces his old club, the Chelsea manager had nothing but positive things to say about Real Madrid and maintained that his team will approach this match for what it is—a preseason game.
From Michael Lewis of Newsday:
If there were any animosity toward his former team, Mourinho certainly did not show it at the postmatch news conference. In fact, Mourinho said he organized Real's participation in this tournament even though he knew he was leaving the La Liga club.
"For us, it's very good," he said. "For them, I don't know. We play against a very special team and very special players."
While Mourinho brings an impressive resume to Chelsea in his second tenure with the English Premier League club, he said the team was "not obsessed to win" in this competition. He said he would follow the same strategy he used against Milan by deploying two teams in each half. He said there was no pressure to win.
"To improve, yes," he said, using the same superlative several times to describe playing Real. "For my defenders, it's fantastic to play against fantastic strikers. For my strikers, it's fantastic to play against defenders. Fantastic experience."
Real Madrid Player to Watch: Isco
The obvious selection would have been Ronaldo, especially with Carlo Ancelotti giving him positional carte blanche, but Isco is one of the most exciting and promising young players in the world.
He is a younger, perhaps flashier version of Andres Iniesta and could end up being one of the best signings in what has been a very busy transfer period. His combination of technical prowess, fancy footwork and ability to put the ball in the back of the net will add a new dimension to Los Blancos this season.
If he's on the pitch, expect to see something special. Real Madrid's answer to Iniesta is a man to watch closely.
Chelsea Player to Watch: Oscar
With plenty of options on the attack after the team signed Andre Schuerrle and got Kevin de Bruyne back from loan, the player most likely to drop out of Chelsea's attacking trio behind the striker—comprised of Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard last season—is the Brazilian.
While it remains unlikely that Oscar will lose his preferred place in the starting 11—he's become a regular for Brazil and was quite good for Chelsea last year, scoring 12 goals and adding nine assists in all competitions—he's still more at risk than either Hazard or Mata.
So yes, these preseason games are plenty important for Oscar. And if nothing else, focusing on the Brazilian maestro will be entertaining, as he's always good for some slick passing and creative movement.
I imagine these teams will take this one fairly seriously, though I don't expect either side to play their stars for a full 90 minutes. Still, when in doubt put your money behind the more talented team, and in this case it's Real Madrid.
Still, I expect this one to be a blast, and Chelsea are a very, very good side. Look for the Blues to keep things tight, but also for Ronaldo and company to win the ICC final.
Real Madrid wins, 3-2.
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