The International Champions Cup returns to Charlotte on Saturday, when England’s Arsenal faces Italy’s Fiorentina at 6 p.m. in Bank of America Stadium. Saturday will be a busy day for the ICC, with two other games being played around the U.S.: Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid in Houston and Benfica vs. Guadalajara in Santa Clara., Calif. Meanwhile, Manchester United faces Inter Milan in Singapore.
Here’s what you need to know about the Charlotte match, which will be broadcast on ESPN+:
Arsenal: Only Manchester United and Liverpool have won more top-flight championships in English soccer than Arsenal’s 13. The Gunners have also won a record 13 F.A. Cup championships. Arsenal finished fifth in last season’s Premier League, but made an appearance in the Europa League (European soccer’s version of the NIT) final, losing to fellow London club Chelsea.
The Gunners won their ICC opener on Wednesday, beating Bayern Munich 2-1 in Carson, Calif.
Fiorentina: La Viola, which was a late replacement for AC Roma in the ICC, finished well down in Italy’s Serie A standings (16th) and even flirted with being relegated to the lower-division Serie B. Fiorentina beat Mexico’s Guadalajara 1-0 in its ICC opener Tuesday in Bridgeview, Ill.
Players to watch
Arsenal: Second-year coach Unai Emery is working in several new players to go with veterans such as defender Nacho Monreal, midfielders Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and forward Alexandre Lacazette, all of whom started against Bayern Munich. Youngsters like midfielder Joe Willock and forward Edward Nketiah (who scored the game winner against Bayern), should see action Saturday.
Fiorentina: La Viola has some dynamic young players, including strikers Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone, who scored against Guadalajara. Simeone’s father, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone, is one of world soccer’s top coaches. Aleksa Terzic is a solid defender from Serbia.
▪ The House of Soccer, a fan festival in Romare Bearden Park, opens at noon Saturday. Women’s World Cup hero Megan Rapinoe will appear.
▪ Tickets are still available at TIcketmaster or the Bank of America Stadium box office.
▪ Can’t make Saturday’s ICC game in Charlotte. Not to worry. Relevent Sports Group, which operates the ICC, recently signed a deal with Bank of America Stadium that will bring ICC games back to Charlotte for the next four years.