The International Champions Cup is underway and, whilst in Australia and China the tournaments have finished, with Juventus winning in Oceania, the European tournament is still ongoing. Leading the group are French club Paris Saint Germain, who have recorded 3 wins from 3, scoring 10 goals in the process. English clubs Chelsea, Liverpool and Premier League Champions Leicester are also competing in the tournament, and may all have the opportunity to record healthy performances in the upcoming fixtures.
Current Premier League Champions Leicester City opened their tournament by playing Scottish Champions Celtic, winning 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 result in normal time. Winger and last year’s PFA Player of the Season Riyad Mahrez opened the scoring for Leicester, cutting in from the right side, calmly turning two defenders, and finessing the ball into the top corner. After the equaliser, the Leicester team finished on top by scoring all six of their penalties in the shootout, offering them two points and starting their tournament with the best possible start.
Most recently, they faced PSG, French Champions for four consecutive years, whilst simultaneously winning domestic trophies. They were on the end of a 4-0 score line, although manager Claudio Ranieri may still take the productive measures from the game and the overall performance. They were playing in their second game of the season, and were facing a fit PSG side who had already played, and won, three games prior; the match may have brought the players closer to full match fitness ahead of the Community Shield, a chance for silverware. Additionally, the tournament may be providing Leicester with first taste of European football, enabling them to gain vital experience necessary to compete at the top and are getting an opportunity to test themselves and gain valuable experience.
The other English clubs competing in the tournament are Chelsea and Liverpool, and both have played two games thus far. The opening game of the tournament for both clubs was playing one another, and Chelsea edged it 1-0, with England international Gary Cahill’s goal separating the two sides. Chelsea’s following game was against Real Madrid, the most successful club in European history with 11 Champions League titles, and ultimately their class showed, running out 3-2 winners. There seemed to be productive measures for Antonio Conte’s side, most notably Eden Hazard’s performance; having started on the bench, his substitution had a clear impact with Hazard scoring two goals in the final 10 minutes. Seemingly, he may be back to the form of 2014/15, when he won the PFA Player of the Year award having contributed to 32 goals in all competitions. Conte also gave new signing Michy Batshuayi his debut, and thus may value the whole opportunity to implement his philosophies and tactics on his new players before the competitive season commences.
Liverpool went on to win when playing former Italian champions AC Milan, with Roberto Firmino and sub Divock Origi grabbing the goals. In both fixtures, Klopp has given an opportunity to the young players, along with his new signings, to integrate themselves within the team and showcase their talents; in the Chelsea match, summer signings Mané, Karius, Klaven and Grujic all started, and five youth team players featured in the AC Milan game. The tournament may motivate the first-team players to continue to perform at their highest standards, as there may be young players and new signings who may be pushing to start.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri may see this tournament as an opportunity to receive a taste of competing with the best clubs in Europe, experience which may be useful when the Champions League group stages commence on 13th September. Antonio Conte may value the opportunity to learn about his team’s strengths and implement his new philosophies, whilst Jurgen Klopp may value the chance to provide debuts for his new signings, including £25 million signing Georginio Wijnaldum, or goalkeeper Loris Karius. Either way, this competitive warm up to the season may give us an insight into how competitive this season’s Champions League will be, and seems to suggest that English clubs may compete with the best from around the globe.
What other English clubs have had successful tournaments in Europe?