When Real Madrid and Chelsea play for the championship of the
Guinness International Champions Cup on Wednesday night, there will
be more than a trophy waiting as someone’s prize.
A bit of bragging rights will likely enter the picture as
Jose Mourinho left as Real Madrid’s coach this year to return as
the sideline boss at Chelsea, and it’s not much of a surprise that
those are the two clubs who will play for the title of the
Chelsea got to the final by beating Inter Milan and AC Milan;
Real Madrid advanced through the eight-team field with victories
over the Los Angeles Galaxy and Everton.
”There are things in life that aren’t worth commenting on and
this is one of them, for obvious reasons,” Real Madrid star
Cristiano Ronaldo said this week when asked about seeing Mourinho’s
”I always come away with the good things about managers. I
don’t bite the hand that feeds me and I don’t talk about people
that speak badly of me. I come away with the positive things. We’re
going to be facing Chelsea, not their manager.”
On some level, Chelsea could be feeling the same way. Real
Madrid’s new coach is Carlo Ancelotti, who led Chelsea for a couple
of years and took over there not long after Mourinho’s first stint
with that club ended.
”It is a special game,” Ancelotti said. ”I have a great
relationship with all the players. That is why it is a special game
but once again it is a preseason game. It is an important test
because we are playing a tough team. It will be a good test to
determine our physical conditioning after the preparation we have
Chelsea’s Juan Mata is also getting ready to enjoy a reunion of
sorts. His career started as a striker for Real Madrid.
”It will be very special for me,” Mata said.
All eight teams in the tournament are converging in South
Florida for the final four matches. Fifth- and seventh-place games
were Tuesday night, and the Galaxy will meet AC Milan for third
place on Wednesday, just before the Real-Chelsea title match.
Only the Galaxy is truly in-season at the moment, with the other
seven clubs all starting to wrap up their preseason phases, during
which they’ve been tinkering with lineups.
”I think this is the moment that we really have to do that, try
different positions, a new system,” Ronaldo said. ”For me, it’s
good to try different positions, maybe for the future. I feel
Ronaldo will likely complete an extension with Real Madrid soon,
and Ancelotti said Tuesday night that he does not anticipate any
problems between the club and its star coming to terms.
”Cristiano is taking this calmly,” Ancelotti said.
The tournament concept was to bring big-name teams to the U.S.,
put them in major markets and big stadiums and continue growing
interest in the sport.
Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash worked out with Inter Milan as the
tournament was getting started, and Dodger Stadium played host to
soccer for the first time in its 51-year history last week.
Now the clubs have arrived in South Florida, to play at the home
of the Miami Dolphins, and the title matchup was the one everyone
”Real Madrid will be a huge test for us,” Chelsea defender
Ashley Cole said in comments posted to the team’s website.
”They’re obviously one of the best teams in the world and I’ve
had some good games with Cristiano Ronaldo down the years, so I
hope this will be another exciting match.”