The Guinness International Champions Cup was put together with one thing in mind: promoting soccer in the United States by matching up Europe's elite in a friendly tournament.
With that being said, this week's marquee matchup of powerhouses Chelsea and Real Madrid will be anything but a friendly, as the finale is filled with intriguing storylines.
Much of the talk has revolved around Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who left Madrid a mere two months ago with no love lost.
With the media abuzz regarding the prospects of two European heavyweights facing off this early in the season, "The Special One" has taken the opportunity to hit back at the club he spent three seasons in charge of, per ESPN.
"I know Madrid is a special club," Mourinho said. "Madrid is not just a club. Madrid is politics. Madrid is not about football, Madrid is not about sport."
Mourinho also took the chance to take shots at his former star player, former FIFA World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.
"I was assistant in big clubs and with big managers and coaching the best players in the world," Mourinho told ESPN. "So I was 30 and I was coaching Ronaldo, not this one [Cristiano], the real one, the Brazilian Ronaldo."
Despite the apparent bad blood between the two, Ronaldo chose not to speak ill of his former manager ahead of Wednesday's matchup, per The Guardian.
"I prefer to remember the good things from coaches," said the Portuguese star. "I do not spit on the plate from which I eat and I do not speak about people who say bad things about me."
Adding to the drama is the fact that Mourinho will not be the only manager facing a former employer, as his replacement, Carlo Ancelotti, managed Chelsea for two years before ultimately being sacked.
While off-the-pitch headlines have been dominant, the current game should be one to look forward to, as both teams have looked strong throughout the preseason tournament.
Chelsea is coming off of a 2-0 victory over Italian giants AC Milan behind goals from Kevin de Bruyne and new signing Andre Schurrle, while Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil were able to fire past English club Everton in their semifinal matchup.
Both clubs enter the 2013-2014 campaign with Champions League aspirations, as the two rank among the top clubs in Europe. Both squads boast numerous superstars as well as youngsters attempting to crack the first team.
While preseason tournaments are generally used for fitness and experience, both clubs feature extremely deep squads, meaning both teams will constantly wield major firepower on the pitch.
With that being said, expect this game to be exactly what it looks like on paper, as the matchup of two giants is sure to promise fireworks. With both teams entering the 2013-14 campaign having championship aspirations, look for this tournament's finale to deliver exactly what was promised: an international champion.
Who do you think will win the ICC finale? Comment below or tweet @r_tolmich with your viewpoint!
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!