International Champions Cup: Big questions facing the top clubs

AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Clubs, Inter, International Champions Cup, Juventus, Real Madrid, Story, Tottenham Hotspur
Alejandro Moreno examines Real Madrid’s projected starting XI for next season and says additional signings are still needed to bolster the squad.
Former Arsenal forward Paul Mariner says Laurent Koscielny is putting his legacy with the Gunners at risk with his recent behaviour.

The world’s biggest clubs will go head-to-head in the International Champions Cup (ICC), which kicks off on Tuesday across the United States, Europe and Asia. You can watch all matches in the U.S. across ESPN’s platforms. Check out our ICC landing page here.

Points and pride will be on the line but, most importantly, clubs and fans will be desperately searching for answers to the questions that loom over each team’s preseason.

Jump to: Real Madrid | Man United | Juventus | Bayern MunichArsenal | Atletico Madrid | Inter | Milan | Tottenham


Can Hazard get Real back to the top of La Liga?

When a club has chased a player for years, as  Madrid did with Eden Hazard, there must be a temptation to think that when they finally get him, all their problems will be solved. Obviously, that is not the case. While Zinedine Zidane is back in charge, this is a team in need of a refresh and they will hope that the arrivals of Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Eder Militao provide new impetus. The key man, though, will be Hazard and all eyes will be on the Belgian midfielder to see if he can change games and provide decisive moments with his absurd control and dribbling, as he did at Chelsea, but with even more consistency than before.

ICC schedule

– July 20: Bayern Munich (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2)
– July 23: Arsenal (7 p.m. ET; ESPN)
– July 26: Atletico Madrid (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN)


Can United manage Rashford’s minutes wisely?

Should Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba actually make the departures with which they have been linked, then where will the goals come from for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Anthony Martial got 10 in the Premier League last season but you wouldn’t trust anyone else to score regularly. Thus the importance of Marcus Rashford has increased further and, despite being only 21, he looks like one of the most senior players. But only Ashley Young made more appearances of United’s outfield players last season, so it was hardly a shock that Rashford looked weary. He recently signed a new contract, but expectation must be offset by avoiding burnout. 

ICC schedule

– July 20: Inter (7:30 a.m. ET; ESPN2)
– July 25: Tottenham (7:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+)
– Aug. 3: Milan (12:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2)


Will Juventus be able to adapt to “Sarri-ball”?

For years, Juventus’s only priority has been winning and, given they have had the Serie A title under lock and key for eight straight seasons, it has worked out quite well. But in replacing Massimiliano Allegri with Maurizio Sarri, they have signalled a greater focus on style and with the likes of Napoli and Inter better positioned to challenge, Juve must quickly grasp the new manager’s rapid passing style. Will that be possible with the players at his disposal? New signing Aaron Ramsey is known more for his surging runs from midfield than keeping the ball moving, while Cristiano Ronaldo does not seem an obvious fit, but must be accommodated somewhere.

ICC schedule

– July 20: Tottenham (7:30 a.m. ET; ESPN2)
– July 24: Inter (7:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+)
– Aug. 10: Atletico Madrid (Noon ET; ESPN+)


Is this a regenerated team or just a worse one?

For the first time in a decade, Bayern Munich will enter a season without Franck Ribery or Arjen Robben, a changing of the guard as the club looks to regenerate and make the team younger. Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez have already arrived and the club has been linked with other targets like Callum Hudson-OdoiLeroy Sane and Hakim Ziyech, while the likes of Serge Gnabry will become more prominent. That is all very well and good, but will younger necessarily mean better? And will manager Niko Kovac convince everyone that he’s the man to take Bayern forward, after a mixed first season that saw it take longer than usual to claim Bundesliga glory. 

ICC schedule

– July 17: Arsenal (11 p.m. ET; ESPN2)
– July 20: Real Madrid (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2)
– July 23: Milan (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+)


How will Arsenal deal with the Koscielny situation?

Arsenal already had problems before Laurent Koscielny refused to go on a preseason tour of the U.S. because of doubts about the club’s desire to keep him. His refusal to travel has created quite the stir – Koscielny will meet Arsenal officials this week in London to learn the sanctions he faces — but the broader question is: How much will Unai Emery allow this to disrupt his plans? Arsenal already have a questionable defence and it is never ideal when your captain wants out, but on the other hand Koscielny is injury-prone and turns 34 in September. Can they turn this situation into a positive, taking an opportunity to force some change?

ICC schedule

– July 17: Bayern Munich (11 p.m. ET; ESPN2)
– July 20: Fiorentina (6 p.m. ET; ESPN+)
– July 23: Real Madrid (7 p.m. ET; ESPN)


Will we see a new Atletico?

The departures of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin, to Barcelona and Inter respectively, means two of the key figures of Diego Simeone’s great Atletico team have gone. The two are not just brilliant players, they also embody Simeone’s ethos: Hard running and aggression from the sort of team to grind you into submission. While Griezmann has been replaced by a youngster with great promise in Joao Felix, it will be interesting to see if the changing personnel leads to a change in approach. Will Simeone immediately want Felix to play his brand of tough, grizzled football, or will he adapt to the new kid’s needs? If he does change, the ICC will be our first chance to see it.

ICC schedule

– July 23: Chivas (9 p.m. ET; ESPN)
– July 26: Real Madrid (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN)
– Aug. 10: Juventus (Noon ET; ESPN+)


How quickly will Conte’s influence be felt?

A short clip did the rounds on social media this week of Antonio Conte overseeing an Inter training session, prowling the touchline with his hands behind his back like a strict P.E. teacher, sternly barking “Come on!” as his players ran past. Inter have a steely eyed winner in charge after years of finding new and interesting ways to make a mess of things, such as the disastrous signing of Gabriel Barbosa or the Frank de Boer debacle, but can Conte infuse his mentality, the relentless work ethic that has brought success with Juventus, Italy and Chelsea? Maybe he has done so already, with Mauro Icardi cast out, seemingly for good, from the first-team squad?

ICC schedule

– July 20: Man United (7:30 a.m. ET; ESPN2)
– July 24: Juventus (7:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+)
– Aug. 4: Tottenham (10 a.m. ET; ESPN+)


How will Giampaolo cope in his biggest managerial role?

Ever since the departure of Allegri in 2014, Milan have gone through seven different managers, all of whom have been big names, former club heroes or both, and the highest they’ve finished is fifth. Now, they have opted for someone with a lower profile, but who has excelled with Sampdoria and a selection of smaller clubs. So can Marco Giampaolo step up? This is the biggest job of his career so he will need to prove himself at San Siro, although a combination of disappointing recent league finishes and their ban from European competition might lift the pressure a little by reducing expectation among fans and club executives.

ICC schedule

– July 23: Bayern Munich (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+) 
– July 28: Benfica (3 p.m. ET; ESPN2)
– Aug. 3: Man United (12:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2)


What impact will fresh faces have upon Spurs?

Given it had been 518 days since their previous signing — Lucas Moura — arrived, even one signing feels like a full regeneration at Tottenham. Tanguy Ndombele has arrived with the promise of being the complete midfielder — boasting a combination of skill, intelligence and physicality — needed since Mousa Dembele‘s decline. More will likely follow, but it will be interesting to see how the new players adjust. Previously, Mauricio Pochettino managed to turn the lack of new arrivals into a positive, with stability and consistency taking the team to a Champions League final. So will the signing(s) refresh or disrupt this Spurs team?

ICC schedule

– July 20: Juventus (7:30 a.m. ET; ESPN2)
– July 25: Man United (7:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+)
– Aug. 4: Inter (10 a.m. ET; ESPN+)

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Sources: Chelsea eye Atletico striker Omorodion
Álvarez focused on Copa amid Man United links
Koeman slams ‘mistakes’ by ‘awful’ Netherlands
Lyon appoint Montemurro to replace Bompastor
Can Vinícius Jr. do for Brazil what he does for Real Madrid?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *