As Real Madrid takes on the Los Angeles Galaxy in a friendly that means nothing, it is appropriate to reflect on how to get these teams together for a match that means everything.
Even though this exhibition is played for pride and practice, it is a noteworthy event. It pits two of the most recognizable franchises in present-day international club Soccer against each other.
A high level of skill will be on display. Players with important resumes, uniforms, and reputations will be on the field to show off. Classic touches on the ball and classic fashion collide.
The solution to getting these teams together all the way, beyond just the glitz and show, is a bolder vision of the Club World Cup.
The FIFA Club World Cup is a minimal affair now. Only eight teams make the tourney, and it doesn’t have the promotion it deserves. There’s not enough pomp and flash because there are too few teams and it is too predictable.
It needs to be a yearly 32-team, one-month tournament for a clear winner, equal to what the World Cup puts on.
There should be eight divisions with four teams each. It should start with group play and then move on to single elimination after the qualifying teams make it out of group play. A round of 16 or quarterfinals should commence with semis and the finals to take place with the appropriate days off in between.
Teams can enter the tourney from Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and South America through their respective confederation rules for qualifying just as it is now for the FIFA eight-team Club World Cup.
There should be plenty of competition for hosting rights year to year, and the United States Soccer Association should definitely bid for it.
Friendlies are losing their luster year to year. American sports fans take their sports seriously. They are only going to dole out personal finances for so long on exhibitions.
For related articles, see…
U.S. Friendlies Produce Limited Theater for American Sports Fans and
Friendlies, Exhibitions Threaten Overexposure.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com