5 International Champions Cup Matches to Get Excited About During Pre-Season

With the 2018 World Cup now just a distant memory, thought now return to club football. 

The International Champions Cup first came into being way back in 2013, and is the brainchild of American billionaires Stephen Ross and Matt Higgins. Since its inaugural season, the ICC has grown in importance year on year, offering a valuable blueprint for the season ahead.

These are the matches that should not be missed for the 2018 iteration of the tournament.

1. Manchester City vs Liverpool: 28 July

All four of Manchester City’s fixtures against Liverpool were memorable in their own way. The first brought a 5-0 victory for City, but the next three, two of which were in the Champions League, all brought thumping Liverpool victories.

Klopp and Guardiola are managers always willing to play attacking football even in the tightest of fixtures, but in a pre-season match with the pressure off, this match could be a riot.

It will also be interesting to see how new signings Keita and Fabinho fit into Liverpool’s lineup, while the match may also see former PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez don the light blue of City for the first time. Liverpool fans will a be eager to see what sort of shape Mohamed Salah is in, with recent reports claiming he is back to full fitness.

This one takes place at the MetLife Stadium, New Jersey, at 01:05 am GMT.

2. Manchester United vs Liverpool: 28 July

Liverpool return just two days later, but this time against one of their most historic rivals, Manchester United. 

These matches are always feisty affairs no matter the circumstances. United manager Jose Mourinho will be hoping to send out a signal to the footballing world after an underwhelming 2017/18 season in which the Red Devils failed to win a trophy.

It’s been over two years since Liverpool defeated Manchester United in any competition, so fans of the Reds will be hoping to break that duck, and regain the bragging rights.

What makes this fixture even more tasty is the fact that it will be played at Michigan’s ‘Big House’ Stadium, with the attendance figure expected to be close to 115,000. You can catch this one at 10:05 pm GMT.

3. Barcelona vs Tottenham: 29 July

Tottenham go head-to-head against four time European champions Barcelona at the Rose Bowl in California.

This could be a key test for Tottenham as it will show how close they are to becoming one of Europe’s top sides. Harry Kane will be absent after winning the World Cup Golden Boot, whilst Lionel Messi will be hoping to return to form after a disappointing tournament with his Argentina side.

If Spurs can win this one, then they will be going into the regular season with a huge amount of confidence. This one starts at 4:05 am GMT.

4. PSG vs Atletico Madrid: 30 July

France’s World Cup heroes Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann could return to club action on opposing sides, but given their World Cup excursions it remains to be seen whether they’ll feature.

Mbappe had an astounding World Cup, scoring four goals, with his pace being critical to many of France’s goals. All eyes will be on him to see if he can sustain his international form in the club game after an underwhelming first season for PSG.

Meanwhile, Griezmann returns for Los Rojiblancos after announcing his decision to stay at Atletico Madrid, where he will be joined by new signing Thomas Lemar.

Both Atletico and PSG have been on the cusp of greatness for some time, and this match could indicate which one will achieve it. 

This match takes place in Singapore and starts at 12:35pm GMT.

5. Real Madrid vs Juventus: 4th August

This match centres around one man: Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Following his shock move to Juventus, Ronaldo will play what could be his first match for the Old Lady, against his former employers Real Madrid.

It will not only be interesting to see how Ronaldo fits into Juve’s starting lineup, but also how Real Madrid will adjust to life without their star man.

This match may also feature the likes of Bale, Modric, Higuaín and Dybala, so expect a high quality, exciting affair, between two sides who will be vying for Champions League glory.

This one takes place at FedEx Field, home of NFL side Washington Redskins, and it begins at 11:05pm GMT.


Bizarre Row Erupts on Twitter Over Journalist’s Claim Karim Benzema Met With AC Milan Officials

??Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has found himself at the centre of a bizarre online argument between his agent and Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.

The row began when Di Marzio ?wrote a piece claiming the France international had a meeting alongside his agent, and a host of ?AC Milan senior figures last week to discuss a potential switch to the San Siro. Benzema’s agent didn’t take kindly to the report, taking to Twitter to make his feelings known on the story.

??Benzema then weighed in to the action himself, posting on his Instagram story a message that translating as: “Di Marzio, it’s you who will need to change jobs. Liar.” 

The explosive conflict raged on, and Di Marzio hit back with a Tweet of his own, which translates as: “He (Benzema’s agent) can laugh as much as he wants. Maybe he won’t laugh if and when the player changes agent. And when he finds out that Benzema made other intermediaries talk to Milan. And he spoke to Gattuso himself. I don’t laugh..telling you what I’ve verified.”

??The public spat has added further mystery to the future of Benzema, who could leave the Bernabéu this summer as Los Blancos look to shake up their squad following the departure of former manager Zinedine Zidane. 

AC Milan are rumoured to be in the market for a striker, and could look to the Frenchman as an alternative to ?Chelsea’s Álvaro Morata.

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Meanwhile, Real Madrid may have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Chelsea talisman Eden Hazard, after ?reports emerged that the Blues could look to sign Manchester United ace Anthony Martial as his replacement. 

The French international could cost the Blues around €100m, but this could be affordable given the astronomical fee that Hazard is likely to bring in.


Robert Lewandowski Appears to Rule Out Man Utd Move as He Favours Real Madrid Switch

?Robert Lewandowski does not want to join ?Manchester United and his preferred destination is ?Real Madrid, though he would consider a proposal from Paris Saint-Germain.

That’s according to Polish journalist Tomasz Wlodarczyk, who appeared on the radio show ?Onet Rano to discuss the future of Lewandowski this week.

According to Wlodarczyk, Lewandowski does not want to join Manchester United and has issued a document stating as much. ?There have been rumours of United going in for Lewandowski but no concrete bid.

The Pole is more open to the possibility of joining PSG, and Bayern are anticipating that the French club could make a bid at any time.

However, Real Madrid would be Lewandowski’s dream move and they certainly have the cash to spare following on from the €110m sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.

Lewandowski is one of the few strikers in Europe who could come close to replacing Ronaldo’s strike rate at the Santiago Bernabeu. He has scored 151 goals in 195 games since joining Bayern in 2014.

Bayern Muenchen v Eintracht Frankfurt - DFB Cup Final

Some reports had claimed that Madrid were no longer interested after seeing Lewandowski’s poor performances for Poland at the World Cup, but Wlodarczyk dismissed these claims and said that Los Blancos would not be put off by just three matches.

Unlike the Premier League transfer window, which this year closes on 9 August before the start of the new season, the French and Spanish transfer windows remain open to the end of August as usual.

This could therefore be a transfer saga which goes on and on until the window closes.


Spanish Report Claims Cristiano Ronaldo Has Encouraged Juventus to Sign Another Real Madrid Star

?Juventus superstar ??Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly told his new club to sign Real Madrid full back Marcelo within his first 24 hours at the Italian club. 

The Brazil international has seen speculation over his future increase following Ronaldo’s departure, with the pair known to have grown close after spending nine years as teammates at the Bernabeu. 

UEFA Champions League'Real Madrid v Liverpool FC'

The Portugal international completed a €100m move to Turin earlier this month and according to Spanish outlet, ?Sport, Ronaldo asked Juventus to sign his former Real teammate.

Marcelo fuelled rumours of an exit after ?paying tribute to Ronaldo on Instagram, where he left a comment which definitely raised some eyebrows, as he said: “Soon we’ll be together again.”

However, having only signed a new contract last summer in a deal which runs until 2022, a deal for Marcelo would not prove to be easy.  

The report claims a move for Marcelo from Juventus would require the Serie A giants to part with their own left back, Alex Sandro – who has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. 

The renewed speculation comes after Marcelo made a surprise appearance at Real’s training ground this week to meet with new manager Julen Lopetegui, who replaced Zinedine Zidane earlier this summer. 

Furthermore, FIFA agent, Beppe Accardi, reportedly said of Marcelo: “Marcelo joining Juventus is something I believe could happen.”

The Brazil international has been with ?Real Madrid for 11 years, where he has made a total of 452 appearances for the club, with an impressive return of 33 goals and 86 assists.


Reports Claim AC Milan in Talks With Real Madrid Striker Karim Benzema Over Summer Move

?AC Milan are said to be in talks to sign? Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema ahead of a move this summer.

Benzema has been with Los Blancos since 2009, making 412 appearances in all competitions, scoring 193 goals. His time at the Bernabeu has been a roaring success for the most part, but his personal achievements have been somewhat overshadowed by those of the other stars with whom he has shared a dressing room.

While Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane were big supporters of Benzema’s contribution to the first team at Real Madrid, both are now gone, potentially paving the way for the Frenchman’s exit.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

Now, according to ?Sky Sports Italia, Benzema could be set to depart the Spanish capital after a decade, making a move over to Italy this summer. 

In addition, Italian journalist ?Gianluca Di Marzio has claimed that Benzema’s representatives held a meeting with AC Milan’s manager Gennaro Gattuso and sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli on Monday to negotiate a potential deal.

AC Milan were recently cleared to compete in the Europa League next season after being previously banned for breaching Financial Fair Play rules. That good news could encourage the Italians to delve into the transfer market once again.

AC Milan v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A

The Rossoneri have reportedly promised to match Benzema’s current salary and have offered a four year contract to keep him at the club until 2022. Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez will not stand in the way of the transfer should Benzema want to make the move.

Karim Benzema’s agent Karim Djaziri has denied the rumours surrounding the transfer by posting laughing emoji’s in response to the story on Twitter, but Di Marzio has emphasised that the talks did indeed take place whether or not Djaziri chooses to believe it.