This upcoming Saturday, two world-class soccer teams will visit Charlotte to play a friendly match at Bank of America Stadium. European powerhouses Bayern Munich and Internazionale will play in front of what is expected to be a near sell-out crowd of 50,000+, so expect Uptown Charlotte to be decorated by red, black and blue jerseys.
Whether you are a hardcore or a casual soccer fan, here are some things to know about the upcoming game:
(1) These are some really big teams.
For those not familiar with Inter (officially F.C. Internazionale Milano) and Bayern Munich (officially Fußball-Club Bayern München e.V), these are two of the most historic and successful European teams.
Bayern has won 26 German League and five UEFA Champions League titles, and has arguably one of the world’s most talented and expensive squads. On the other side, Inter is one of the top Italian teams with 18 Italian Serie A titles and three UEFA Champions League titles. Even though they haven’t won a major title since 2010, they are well-respected and attract top-level players.
This game will be a replay of the 2009/2010 Champions League final, when Inter defeated Bayern Munich 2-0.
(2) Big European Soccer is becoming a tradition for Charlotte.
This is the third consecutive year for Charlotte hosting top European clubs for summer friendlies. In 2014, Liverpool played AC Milan and last year French champions Paris Saint-Germain played Premier League giants Chelsea, with both matches attracting more than 60,000 fans to Bank of America Stadium. When the city helped the Panthers pay for the stadium’s renovations in 2013, part of the agreement included free use of it until 2022 for events such as these, which helps the city offer soccer promoters a great destination to bring games to Charlotte. Given the attendance of past games, and hopefully this one, we can expect Charlotte to keep attracting some great soccer every summer.
(3) Teams will feature great players, but some top stars will be missing.
As is common with pre-season tours, both teams will be missing some of their top players who might be getting some rest before the season starts.
Bayern Munich will bring a squad featuring World Cup Winners Philipp Lahm (Germany) and Xabi Alonso (Spain) as well as Copa America Champion Arturo Vidal (Chile). Other top players include Franck Ribéry (France), David Alab (Austria) and USMNT prospect Julian Green. Unfortunately, fans will miss out on watching other top stars like Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Arjen Robben.
On Inter’s side, they will be resting Croatian star Ivan Perisic, who recently finished playing in EURO 2016, and some players that participated in Copa America, like Chile’s Gary Medel, Argentina’s Éver Banega and Colombia’s Jeison Murillo. We can look forward to seeing great players like goalkeeper Samir Handanović (Slovenia) and forwards Mauro Icardi (Argentina) and Stevan Jovetić (Montenegro).
(4) This game can help bring MLS to town.
Major League Soccer (MLS) is always paying attention to events like the International Champions Cup, where big cities can show they can support big soccer games and draw huge crowds. Once again, Charlotte’s soccer passion will be put to the test, and if fans show interest as they have in past years it will help the city’s case to be granted an MLS franchise in the near future.
So for those interested in having an MLS team in Charlotte in upcoming years, attending an event like this and bringing friends and new fans along can make a big difference. Of course, remember to support the Charlotte Independence as well.
— MLS To Charlotte (@MLS2CLT) April 12, 2016
(5) The fun is not limited to the stadium.
For those unable to attend the game (although tickets are still available for as low as $34 each), you can tune-in to the game and enjoy it with some of the best soccer fans in Charlotte. Ahead of the game, Charlotte’s Bayern Munich Fan Club will be hanging out at Draught. I can also recommend visiting Courtyard Hooligans for anyone looking to enjoy the game with fellow soccer fans.