Fiorentina's North American tournament continues today at 8:00 EST in Connecticut where they are set to meet Portugal's Benfica, a team tied in Viola minds with club icon Rui Costa.
Benfica are, like Fiorentina, adjusting to life under a newly appointed Portuguese coach. After parting ways with Jorge Jesus, Benfica have hired Rui Vitória, previously of Vitória Guimarães. Benfica are also coming off a loss to Paris St. Germain in this "tournament," although they put up a better fight than Fiorentina. Benfica did, however, manage to blow a lead with 30 minutes remaining to lose 3-2.
Both sides will be looking to use the opposition's match against PSG as preparation, and both will be looking for a morale-boosting win. Even if the International Champion's Cup is a glorified marketing stunt, both Fiorentina and Benfica face uncertain seasons where their new coaches have the pressure of matching popular predecessors. Vitória arguably has an even tougher task than Paulo Sousa, considering Benfica's position as the biggest club in Portugual, and the success and popularity of the man he is replacing.
In terms of players, Benfica continues to be full of creative talents such as Nicolás Gaitán and Brazilian wonderkid Talisca, even if they lack someone who could carve up Fiorentina's back line as efficiently as Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
For Fiorentina, this match could showcase debut appearances for Mario Suárez and Gilberto, although considering their recent travels, don't expect either to log many minutes. This could also be the last time we see Mario Gomez playing in purple, as rumors continue to fly of Turkish interest in the big German.
Expect both teams to field a hefty dash of youth players, although I don't think anyone one the blog would complain about Khouma Babacar and Federico Bernardeschi getting some more minutes. U.S. based fans will be able to watch on Fox Soccer, although I recommend muting any English commentary.