South Florida soccer fans, your dream is coming true.
Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid will, indeed, play a preseason “El Clasico” match at Hard Rock Stadium on July 29. Organizers are planning weekend-long Super Bowl-like festivities surrounding the match, including a legends game and concerts.
There has been speculation about the match for a few months, but it will become a reality on Friday afternoon when stadium executives and team officials from both clubs announce details for the mega-game at a press conference in Miami Beach. Also, as part of the event launch, thousands of balls with logos of both teams are being dropped off at soccer parks all over South Florida.
Real Madrid had been committed to be part of the International Champions Cup this summer, and the addition of Barcelona means a rare clash off Spanish soil between superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Fans are expected to fly in from all over the United States, Latin America and Europe.
Barcelona was in the news on Wednesday after pulling off the greatest second-leg turnaround in Champions League history. Down 4-0 in aggregate to Paris Saint Germain, Barca managed to win the second leg 6-1 to advance. They scored three goals in the final seven minutes.
The rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is one of the fiercest in the world, as the two clubs are among the richest and most successful in all of sport. Whenever they play each other, the match is dubbed “El Clasico” (The Classic). Real Madrid holds the edge with 93 wins to 90 for Barcelona. They tied 1-1 when they played Dec. 3, and the next Clasico is April 23.
Barcelona played in the ICC last summer, along with Paris Saint-Germain, Inter, Milan, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Leicester City, Liverpool and Celtic.
The 17-team tournament was played in 19 venues across the United States, Europe, Australia and China. A total of 800,000 fans attended matches. This year’s event is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN.
Barcelona, which played in the ICC last summer, is also expected to play Juventus July 22 and Manchester United July 25. Those sites have not been announced.