Soccer’s International Champions Cup, featuring a game between Liverpool and AC Milan, is coming to Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Here’s what you need to know about the game between the two European powers:
Is it really part of a tournament? Yes, but not an official one. “Friendlies” featuring famous teams from Europe are now commonplace during the summer in the United States and organizing them into a tournament format is one way to do it (the final is Aug. 4 in Miami). Other teams in the ICC are England’s Manchester United and Manchester City, Italy’s AS Roma and Inter Milan, Spain’s Real Madrid and Greece’s Olympiacos.
Can Charlotte expect more of this kind of game in the future? Yes, city tourism and sports boosters are actively pursuing them and are confident they can land more matches. Their confidence is mostly based on advance ticket sales for the Liverpool-Milan game, which have reached about 60,000.
How are games selling elsewhere? Saturday’s Real Madrid-Manchester United game in 110,000-seat Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., sold out within 30 minutes of going on sale in April.
Will there be a World Cup feel to the Charlotte game? Yes. Seven Liverpool players – midfielders Steven Gerrard, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson, forwards Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling and defender Glen Johnson – played for the England team that was drummed out of the group stage. AC Milan had eight players in the World Cup, including striker Mario Ballotelli (Italy) and midfielder Keisuke Honda (Japan). Milan’s Sulley Muntari was one of Ghana’s players who was sent home during the World Cup for undisclosed reasons.
Is there a notable absence? Of course. When the matchup was announced in April, soccer fans in Charlotte thought they’d see Liverpool scoring-star Luis Suarez in action. Since then, of course, Suarez bit a player in the World Cup (the third time he’s done that), earning himself a long suspension from soccer. He’s since been sold to Barcelona.
What kinds of history do the teams have? They’re both among the most successful in the world. Liverpool has won more European titles than any team, including 18 English titles (second only to Manchester United in English history), five European Cups (now Champions League) and five FA Cups. The Reds finished second in the English Premier League last season after leading for most of the final several weeks. AC Milan finished a disappointing eighth in Italy’s Series A last season, but has won 18 league titles and seven Champions League titles.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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