In the midst of one of summer’s most exciting soccer events, US fans are preparing for a collision between arguably the two most well-known clubs in the world as part of the annual International Champions Cup (ICC).
Spanish giants FC Barcelona will face defending champions and the most successful club to come out of England, Manchester United, this Saturday at the Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco. According to reselling platform Ticketbis.com, ticket prices for this sought-after matchup are averaging $309 on the secondary market, which is understandable considering tickets are no longer even available on the primary market. The average ticket price represents a significant increase of 192 percent from the average between all ICC games being held in the US, which is $106.
The demand for tickets is huge despite the absence of soccer’s biggest stars Lionel Messi and Neymar, who were left out of Barcelona’s ICC roster to be fresh for their upcoming season. Nonetheless, the team has no shortage of talent for this year’s competition as we saw in Tuesday’s game against LA Galaxy that ended in a 2-1 win for the Spanish side. Goals were scored by Luis Suarez and Sergi Roberto, plus fans got to see the likes of Gerard Piqué, Andres Iniesta, and Pedro work their magic on the field. These players all played a crucial role in securing the team’s first-place trophies in the domestic league, domestic cup, and Champions League competitions last season. According to ESPN, the LA Galaxy-Barcelona matchup saw the largest crowd for a soccer game involving an MLS team in US history.
Facing Manchester United, however, will not be an easy endeavor for Luis Enrique’s side. The Red Devils have been doing exceptionally well so far in the tournament, owning a 3-1 win against the San Jose Earthquakes and a 1-0 triumph over Mexico’s Club America. Goal-scorers included Juan Mata & Memphis Depay (joint effort), Andreas Pereira, and Morgan Schneiderlin.
Set to join the United squad against Barcelona are Angel Di Maria, Javier Hernández, and David De Gea in goal. Last year’s MVP, Wayne Rooney, could also get some playing time. United won last year’s ICC in the US with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in the final, which took place at Sun Life Stadium.
So, the question is, will Barcelona be able to take down United on Saturday without the help of Messi and Neymar? It will depend a lot on each team’s attitude and approach towards the offseason. Despite the seemingly nonchalant nature in which many players and coaches treat these games, it is in each side’s interest to show dominance, especially when matched up against what will be a real threat during the official season.
US soccer fans will be able to see more great European clubs face each other. Top french club PSG and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea will also face off on Saturday, with tickets starting at $118.95, as listed on Ticketbis. Next week, Barcelona will play against Chelsea, while Manchester United collides with PSG.