Ten things to watch: Chelsea vs. Real Madrid
Chelsea plays Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup at Michigan Stadium (3 p.m./ESPN).
1. Daddy’s boys: Luca and Enzo, two of four Zinedine Zidane’s sons, have joined Real Madrid’s manager on the preseason tour. Enzo, 21, is reportedly a chip off the old block and is a creative midfielder with Real Madrid Castilla, the reserve side. Luca, 18, is a goalkeeper and played on Real’s Juvenil A (under-19) squad. Siblings Theo, 14, and Elyaz, 10, also feature in Real’s youth system.
2. Squeeze play: The soccer field is expected to be around 68 yards wide once the natural grass field is laid down inside Michigan Stadium a few days before the match. That is narrower than the prescribed 75-yard width for a football pitch, so expect fewer crosses driven in from the flanks.
3. Who’s the boss? Real Madrid and Chelsea are both trigger happy when it comes to switching field generals (Think George Steinbrenner on “The Apprentice”). As a result, a number of big-name managers have the distinction of enjoying tenures at both clubs: Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea, 2009-11) (Real Madrid, 2013-15); Jose Mourinho, (Chelsea, 2004-07, 13-15; Real Madrid, 2010-13); Rafa Benitez, (Chelsea - interim - 2013-14; Real Madrid, 2015-16).
4. A-square redeux: Real Madrid lost Manchester United 3-1 before a record crowd of 109,318 at Michigan Stadium two years ago. Daniel Carvajal, Nacho Hernandez and Isco were in the starting 11 who return with the Los Blancos this time.
5. Headbutt revisited: During the 2006 World Cup, Zidane administered one of the game’s most resounding Glasgow kisses to Italy’s Marco Materazzo, who only recently revealed to L’Equipe what lit the Gallic genius’ fuse, “I talked about his sister not his mother, like I have read in some newspapers. My mother died while I was a teenager, I would never insult his.” Good to know “your momma wears army boots,” never entered the equation.
6. Head count: Attendance for Saturday’s ICC encounter will be hard pressed to match the record crowd of 109,318 for the Real Madrid-Manchester United match at The Big House two years ago. One, the Big House’s capacity has been reduced to 107,601 since then and, two, tickets are still available (for between $55-235). So far, 100,000 tickets have been sold, Michigan spokesman Kurt Svoboda said.
7. Harm’s way: Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard didn’t let a little thing like an attempted violent overthrow of the government stop him from visiting Turkey. The Belgian international arrived in Antalya as the coup d’etat was taking place to attend Samuel Eto’o’s charity ball, Turkish Soccer reported this week.
8. Three stripes: Both teams, which are sponsored by German sportswear giant Adidas, will be showing off new jerseys. Real Madrid only recently unveiled its new home kit, which is resplendent in the team’s traditional white but features the Adidas trademark three stripes going up the sides instead of on the shoulders. Chelsea debuted in its new blue home kit during the last game of the Premier League season.
9. Draft picks: Heineken is sponsoring the International Champions Cup, which means the Dutch brewed beer will be on tap along with its less caloried Heineken Light will be served. Coor’s Light, Dos Equis, along with Michigan brews Bell’s Oberon and Two Hearted Ale will be available.
10. Blue note: About 1,000 fans representing Chelsea FC supporters clubs across the U.S., including 50 from the Chicago chapter, are expected to attend Saturday’s match.