Belfast Telegraph

Barca await for Premier League pair

Chelsea and Manchester United will both take on Barcelona as part of the pre-season International Champions Cup at venues across the United States during July.

The schedule, confirmed on Tuesday at a press conference in New York, will see the Blues play Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls in New Jersey on July 22, Paris St Germain in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 25 Barcelona in Washington, DC on July 28 before their final match back at Stamford Bridge in London versus Fiorentina on August 5.

United, meanwhile, open against Mexico City-based Club America on July 17 at Seattle's CenturyLink Field, before taking on San Jose Earthquakes on July 21, at a venue to be confirmed, with a date against Barcelona at Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium on July 25 then concluding in Chicago against PSG on July 29.

The International Champions Cup is also hosting games in Australia, where Manchester City will play Real Madrid, and China, with AC Milan set to play rivals Inter.

Premier League clubs face a testing pre-season schedule ahead of the 2015/2016 campaign.

England are set to play a European Championship qualifier on June 14, with the new domestic season set to begin earlier than usual on August 8.

The lure, though, of an overseas trip is clear. During last season's tournament, United played against Real Madrid in front of some 109,000 spectators in Michigan, with Louis van Gaal's side going on to claim victory over Liverpool in the final.

Despite all of the potential for tapping additional revenue streams, Manchester United commercial director Jamieson Reigle told Tuesday's press conference the trip to America would help provide first-class preparation for the new campaign.

"We are trying to have an opportunity to connect with our fans around the world and are very excited to be here to engage with those fans in the US, which is a very important market and we will also be doing a lot of work activity around the games for the Manchester United Foundation," he said.

"But first and foremost, this is all about pre-season preparation for the team.

"This used to be a very fragmented effort which lacked the quality and fan base, but we are excited that the ICC has brought together all of the best teams from around the world as well as the MLS, at the best venues and training facilities, which is very important to us as we think about preparing for the following season."

Chelsea can secure the Barclays Premier League title with victories over Leicester and Crystal Palace this week, having stayed 10 points clear of Arsenal with a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Blues are planning to celebrate with a post-season friendly in Sydney on June 2 before giving the players a well-earned break.

The International Champions Cup tournament will be played on a group basis, with any drawn games after 90 minutes settled by a penalty shoot-out.

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini played for Los Angeles Galaxy in 2013, and is looking forward to his old club coming Stateside again.

The 41-year-old Italian said at Tuesday's press conference: "From my own experience, I know how much the soccer fans here love European football, and especially the (English) Premier League.

"This tournament gives a big opportunity to these supporters to come and watch their heroes live, which is amazing.

"As a club it is fantastic for us to connect with our soccer fans here in the United States and (we are) looking forwards to some big games against great opponents."


July 17: Manchester United v Club America (Seattle)

July 21: Manchester United v San Jose Earthquakes (venue tbc)

July 22: Chelsea v New York Red Bulls (New Jersey)

July 25: Manchester United v Barcelona (Santa Clara); Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain (Charlotte, North Carolina)

July 28: Chelsea v Barcelona (Washington)

July 29: Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain ( Chicago)

August 5: Chelsea v Fiorentina (London)


From Belfast Telegraph