The annual pre-season friendly competition comes back this summer, as 12 sides battle it out for the International Champions Cup, starting from July 16. For the second time since the introduction of the tournament, there will be 16 host cities across three continents. Matches will take place at 16 different venues located in Sweden, England, Wales, China, Singapore and the United States.
The tournament will feature 12 teams from two confederations, with Mexican outfit Chivas Guadalajara being the only side based in the CONCACAF region. The remaining 11 are all featuring Europe’s top-five leagues, including Serie A, the Premier League, Bundesliga and LaLiga. Each team will play three games, for a total of 18 matches.
Italy’s top-tier competition will provide four contestants. Apart from AC Milan, Inter and Juventus, who have been regular participants over the past few years, Fiorentina will return to action for the first time since 2015. La Viola’s opening game at the ICC will see them take on tournament debutants Chivas, the reigning CONCACAF Champions League holders.
Bayern Munich will be the only German side at the tournament, while Benfica will be the one to represent the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Unlike last year, when Manchester City took part in the competition, Manchester United, Arsenal and the reigning holders Tottenham will try to bring the title to England.
Meanwhile, there will be two LaLiga giants staking their claims for the flattering trophy, as Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid both confirmed their attendance. Los Blancos are the most successful club with three titles, while Los Colchoneros still chase their elusive first trophy. With his squad bolstered by the likes of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Eder Militao, Zinedine Zidane will look to boost team’s morale by conquering this exhibition competition following an underwhelming 2018/19.
Los Merengues will meet Bayern Munich in a clash of titans for their tournament opener on 20 July. The massive showdown, scheduled to take place at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas pits the most successful Spanish team against the most decorated German club.
This tournament is one of the hardest to predict the winner because of its timing in the football season, and bettors have to take risks and be bold with their predictions. To minimise these risks, punters should keep an eye out for a no deposit free bet for football that grants a bonus bet upon registration. Both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are the pre-tournament favourites of bookies to win the title along with last year’s champions Tottenham.
Although the outcome of the encounter won’t matter, Real enter the match as slight favourites as they’ve come off better in recent encounters, dumping the Germans out of the Champions League two seasons ago. They also outplayed the Bavarians when the two sides faced-off at the 2016 International Champions Cup, clinching a narrow 1-0 triumph.
Already established as royalty in European football, these two sides have been regular participants in the ICC ever since its introduction seven years ago. While the Bavarian powerhouse struggled to impress in 2018, sustaining two defeats in three matches, the Spaniards have racked up two victories in three outings.
However, things will be different now, as both teams have undergone massive changes. Devastated by a disappointing season in both Spain and Europe, Real Madrid have already splashed out approximately €300m to reinforce a squad that faltered towards the end of the last term. All five of their new signings are expected to make their debut for the club in this tournament, with Hazard projected to headline Real’s attack against the Germans.
On the other hand, Niko Kovac, who has enjoyed a successful first season in charge of die Roten, will have a dramatically changed squad at his disposal. Apart from Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, who left the club after their contracts run down, Rafinha, Mats Hummels and James Rodríguez have also departed the Allianz Arena. But their departures were followed up by the new acquisitions. The Bayern hierarchy have already wrapped up the deals that saw Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez land in Munich. It promises to be a interesting tournament.