The International Champions Cup, a series of friendly association football matches over the summer before the top European leagues begin to play, continues on Saturday with two of the best teams in the world, Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint-German, squaring off on ESPN2. The German side is favored here on the latest soccer odds.
The summer transfer window hasn’t closed yet and there’s talk that Bayern Munich has eyes on Jordan Pickford, who had a terrific World Cup for England in net. At 24, a player who made history in Russia over the summer by becoming the youngest man to keep a clean sheet for the Three Lions on the grandest of sporting stages has seen his profile enhanced considerably. Pickford already the most expensive British goalkeeper of all time, with Everton having snapped him up for £25 million ($33m) in the summer of 2017.
Bayern Munich is also among a host of top European sides interested in young Canadian Alphonso Davies. The 17-year-old has grown into his game over the last two seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS. Davies won the Golden Boot for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup as a 16-year-old despite Canada being eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Bayern Munich star James Rodriguez will not cut his two-year loan short and return to his former club, Real Madrid.
Rodriguez was one of the breakout players for Bayern Munich during the club’s ’17-18 season. The Colombian ended the first half of his two-year loan with seven goals and 11 assists across 23 Bundesliga appearances. For many, he was the Bavarians’ player of the season. Rodriguez won the Bundesliga with Bayern last year and also noticeably did not celebrate when scoring at the Bernabeu as his current team was knocked out 4-3 on aggregate by Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.
Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso was on the French World Cup-winning team but isn’t expected to play in the ICC. Bayern also has a new coach in Niko Kovac, formerly of Eintracht Frankfurt. Kovac, a former Croatia midfielder, and coach played for Bayern between 2001 and 2003, winning the Club World Cup in 2001 and a domestic league and cup double in 2003. He takes over for interim coach Jupp Heynckes.
Kovac’s first senior coaching job came with the Croatia national team, whom he led at the 2014 World Cup. As a player, he had captained the side at the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008. He led Eintracht Frankfurt to a victory over Bayern in the DFB Pokal final in his last game at the club. Kovac has bemoaned German players’ lack of flair and criticized youth development in Germany.
Germany exited the World Cup following the group stage, and the former Croatia national team coach said the team lacked “great individual players who can surprise in tight game situations and leave an opponent standing on the counter-attack.”
Paris Saint-German is the king of the French Ligue 1 and has two of the best young players in the world in Brazil’s Neymar and France’s Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old breakout star of the World Cup for the champions. Both will stay at Paris Saint-Germain despite both being linked to a potential move away, according to Luis Fernandez. Real Madrid has been linked to moves for both players but has had to issue formal statements denying their interest.
The two had very different World Cups. Mbappe had a remarkable four goals – the last of which made him only the second teenager after Pele to score in the competition final – on route to becoming a world champion.
Neymar struggled to hit the heights expected of him and his Brazil side before they crashed out at the last-eight stage. Neymar’s tendency to play up even the slightest contact from opposition players irritated fans. The PSG superstar was calculated to have spent 14 of his 450 World Cup minutes on the floor. Neither is expected to play in the ICC.
Mbappe, Neymar, and their PSG teammates collectively scored 13 goals — more than any other team at the World Cup. Mbappe scored four with champions France, Edinson Cavani netted three for Uruguay and Neymar had two, while Brazil’s Thiago Silva, Argentina’s Angel Di Maria, Belgium’s Thomas Meunier and Poland’s Grzegorz Krychowiak all scored one.
Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain has made a €35m offer for Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng. The Bavarians have informed the German defender that should the right offer be received, he will be allowed to leave the club. With the likes of Mats Hummels, Niklas Sule and Javi Martinez at the club, Boateng has large competition for his place in the German champion’s starting line-up.
PSG and Bayern Munich split two group matches in last season’s Champions League, each scoring three goals in their victory.