2019 Men's International Champions Cup
The 2019 International Champions Cup saw Portuguese powerhouse Benfica walk away as surprise winner of the stacked tournament by virtue of its perfect 3-0 record, but Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Manchester United all came away from the preseason competition with unbeaten records and the confidence generated from some impressive performances.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema and Joao Felix were just some of the stars on display during the ICC, with matches taking place from China to New York, featuring a dozen teams from six different countries.
Benfica’s sale of Joao Felix didn’t keep the Lisbon-based club from impressing in ICC after wins against Chivas Guadalajara, Fiorentina and AC Milan. Caio’s stunning stoppage-time winner against Fiorentina and Adal Taarbat’s winner against AC Milan secured a perfect record for the Portuguese side.
Joao Felix made an instant impact with Atletico Madrid, starring in ICC with the types of performances that showed why Atletico broke its transfer fee record to buy him. He set up a first-minute goal and quickly added a second to kick off Atletico Madrid’s stunning 7-3 demolition of Real Madrid at MetLife Stadium. Diego Costa scored a whopping four goals in the rout, a result made all the more stunning by the fact Zinedine Zidane’s side fielded a strong lineup in the match.
Felix capped his strong ICC by scoring the final goal of the tournament, a stunning game-winning finish against Juventus in Stockholm, Sweden.
Manchester United also enjoyed an impressive 2019 ICC, going unbeaten in its three matches, as its youth movement stole the show. Teenagers Mason Greenwood and Angel Gomes scored the winners against Inter Milan and Tottenham, and both converted penalty kicks in a penalty shootout triumph over AC Milan.
Arsenal also had an encouraging showing at ICC, with young striker Eddie Nketiah scoring goals in wins against Bayern Munich and Fiorentina.
Bayern rebounded from that Arsenal loss to post a pair of ICC victories, posting a 3-1 win against Real Madrid in Houston and a 1-0 victory against AC Milan at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.
The ICC Tournament enjoyed a success fun through Asia, with matches drawing large crowds to Singapore and China. Fans in Singapore were treated to Manchester United’s win against Inter Milan, but the ultimately highlight in Singapore came a day later when Harry Kane delivered the goal of the tournament with a volley from midfield in stoppage time to beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in a wild 3-2 victory.
It was moments like Kane’s wonder goal, and Atletico’s romp over Real Madrid, that left fans from Shanghai to New York hungry for more ICC action heading into 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of the 2020 edition of the tournament.
Although the eighth edition of the tournament won’t be played in 2020, it will be back in 2021, with many of the world’s top clubs continuing to use the competition as a key part of their preseason preparations. As memorable as the 2019 edition of the tournament was, the 2021 edition should be even better.