We are in the midst of preseason these days, and in these strange times of televised, money-spinning summer friendlies, there are more chances than ever for hungry audiences (you) to watch football in the traditionally tedious hinterland of the long empty summer.
We’ve eaten up the Copa America, tuned into the Women’s World Cup, and for North Americans, there’s still something called the Gold Cup happening (which sounds nice.) But these are merely the nicotine patches hastily fixed to our collective club footballing addiction. A surrogate to address the nostalgia for the life-affirming flavor of real, actual club football, even if it can't quite quell the craving.
If early friendlies against Gyotir and Trentino were the equivalent of drunkenly sneaking one of your friend’s cigarettes at two in the morning as you wait for a cab back home from the bar, then the International Champions Cup is like finding a forgotten half pack of Lucky Strikes stashed in the pocket of some old jeans. God you’ve missed this. It’s almost like the real thing. A bit dry, sure. Doesn't really go anywhere and you're not sure of the point. But maybe if you just tune in, it'll be just like the good old days. This is almost like watching real football! And Fiorentina are playing, which is the main bit.
While sounding Very Very Important Indeed, the International Champions Cup is a glorified collection of friendlies. A polished rebrandng of the Intertoto Cup, but gone global. Suspect smoking analogies aside, the competition provides clubs from across the world the chance to take part in lucrative friendlies under the guise of a pseudo-competition. While the games are more about fitness and team bonding than the results, there is something quite undeniably fun about being able to watch Fiorentina playing top opposition after a long, annoying, infuriating summer.
So, what’s it all about? Well, the competition is spread across three main sites, China, Australia, and North America. Fiorentina will be a part of the North America group along with nine other non-Italian teams. Roma will be a part of the Australian site and the Milanese clubs will be playing matches in China. For the purposes of this preview, we’ll ignore anything apart from Fiorentina’s immediate opposition.
Also, let's be honest, do you care about Milan matches in China? Didn't think so.
The North American site contains some of the world’s biggest teams. Along with La Viola, the following clubs will be taking part:
· Manchester United (England)
· Benfica (Portugal)
· Club América (Mexico)
· LA Galaxy (United States)
· Barcelona (Spain)
· Chelsea FC (England)
· New York Red Bulls (United States)
· Paris Saint-Germain (France)
· San Jose Earthquakes (United States)
As you can see, there’s a good mixture of regular Champions League participants, plus some of the more glamorous North American sides. But Fiorentina will not be playing against everyone. Though the majority of the tournament takes place in North America, Fiorentina will be the only side to play two of their games in Europe.
The Viola's schedule features matches against PSG and Benfica on the East Coast before jetting back to Florence to take on Barcelona and finishing off by traveling to London for a game against Chelsea. So over the course of the next few weeks, Fiorentina will be taking on the champions of England, Spain, France, and Portugal. Compared to playing Team Trentino, this is a little bit more
Because not every team plays each other, winning the tournament can be a bit difficult. So while Fiorentina face the various champions of Europe, most of the other teams will be offered the chance to take on a North American side or two. Every team will play four times and any match that doesn’t end in a win goes to penalties.
Winning teams take two points rather than three, with there being one point for a draw. If a side wins the penalty shoot-out after a draw, they’ll get an extra point as well. In the event of a tie in the table, places will be determined using head-to-head results, goal difference, and goals scored in that order. Previous winners include Real Madrid and Manchester United.
But how can you follow Fiorentina? For the two matches in North America, those based in Europe will get the chance to discover the perils of watching soccer from another continent. With the East Coast being six hours ahead of Italy and five ahead of the UK, tuning in for the early matches from Europe will be a very late night affair.
For Americans, Australians, and everyone else who typically stays up late (or gets up early) to watch the team, the bleary-eyed broadcasts will be achingly familiar. Let’s break it down for each match:
Fiorentina vs Paris Saint-Germain
Location: Harrison, NJ
Date: Tuesday, July 21
Kick-off: 8:30PM EST; 2:30AM CET; 1:30AM GMT; 10:30AM AEST
Note: for those in the UK, Europe, and Australia, the match is technically on Wednesday due to the way in which the world spins on its axis (one man struggles while another relaxes)
Fiorentina vs SL Benfica
Location: East Hartford, CT
Date: Friday, July 24
Kick-off: 8:00PM EST; 2:00AM CET; 1:00AM GMT; 10:00AM AEST
Note: similar to the PSG match, this will technically be Saturday morning for some.
Fiorentina vs FC Barcelona
Location: Florence, Italy
Date: Sunday, August 2
Kick-off: 3:00PM EST; 9:00PM CET; 8:00PM GMT; 5:00AM AEST
Note: for Australians, this is an early Monday morning kick-off. You poor souls.
Chelsea vs Fiorentina
Location: London, England
Date: Wednesday, August 5
Kick-off: 3:00PM EST; 9:00PM CET; 8:00PM GMT; 5:00AM AEST
Note: same times as the Barca game.
Getting your head around the right time and place for each match is one of the challenges of modern football. But once you know which games you want to watch, how exactly can you tune in?
Well, unlike the early preseason games, the club do not have the rights to stream the matches from their website. Instead, numerous global broadcasters have gobbled up the chance to show the game and you can check your country listings here:
· USA: Fox
· Canada: TSN – Bell
· UK – Sky Sports
· Italy – Mediaset Premium
· Australia – Nine
All other broadcasters can be found using a handy official list, located here.
In addition to this, Viola News will be bringing updates and match threads for each game. And of course, we will have as many updates as we can coming at you, including a gallery of photos from the game in New Jersey. So stay tuned to the site to get all of the information you’ll need before, during, and after the matches.
While the competition might not mean much in the long run, it’s nice to finally have something that – if you squint hard enough – looks like real football once again.
Here's the announced Fiorentina squad that will take part in the ICC matches: Alonso, Babacar, Badelj, Bagadur, Basanta, Bernardeschi, Borja Valero, Capezzi, Diakhate, Fazzi, Gomez, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Hegazy, Ilicic, Joaquin, Lezzerini, Pasqual, Rebic, Roncaglia, Rossi, Savic, Sepe, Tatarusanu, Tomovic, Vecino.
N.B. the introduction to this post was in no way sponsored by "Big Tobacco," but if you are a representative and want to send me any money, please leave your email in the comments and I will be in touch.