Spanish giant Atletico Madrid is the final team confirmed for July’s International Champions Cup tournament in Melbourne, joining fellow title-chasing duo Juventus and Tottenham.
A-League champions Melbourne Victory will open the 2016 ICC against Juventus on July 23, before the Italian giants clash with Tottenham three nights later.
Then Spurs and Atletico, two of Europe’s most exciting up and coming teams, conclude the tournament on July 29, with all games played at the MCG.
Atletico stunned Real Madrid in Sunday’s Madrid derby, leaving Argentine firebrand Diego Simeone’s side as Barcelona’s only Spanish title challenger.
Led by resurgent striker Fernando Torres, Atletico has this season continued challenging Barcelona and Real, after winning the title in 2013-14 and making the Champions League final in 2014 (which they lost to Real).
Simeone, who will lock horns with former Argentina World Cup teammate and current Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, said he was thrilled to be coming to Melbourne.
“The team and I can’t wait to come and play in Melbourne and visit a country as exciting as Australia, sharing with the fans its passion for football,’’ Simeone said.
“It’s fantastic to be part of such a high calibre tournament with some of the best teams in Europe and the A League’s most successful side, Melbourne Victory.
“This competition will form a key part of our pre-season training and will be a great opportunity for me to put my players through their paces ahead of the new season.”
ICC organisers are hopeful of having the champions of Europe’s three top leagues, after another stellar weekend for the Melbourne-bound clubs.
Star French attacker Antoine Griezmann’s well taken goal secured the win at Real, which triggered a blow-up from 2015 ICC visitor Cristiano Ronaldo.
Spurs maintained their title challenge with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Swansea thanks to Danny Rose’s late strike.
Meanwhile, Juventus solidified its place atop the Italian Serie A table with a 2-0 win over Inter Milan.
Griezmann will arrive in Melbourne after playing a key role for hosts France at Euro 2016 in June.
“It’s amazing to have the chance to play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as part of our preparation for next season. Hopefully we’ll have a packed out stadium cheering us on against Tottenham,’’ Griezmann said.
2016 ICC MELBOURNE SCHEDULE: (All games at the MCG)
Match 1 — Saturday July 23, 7pm
Melbourne Victory v Juventus
Match 2 — Tuesday July 26, 8pm
Juventus v Tottenham
Match 3 — Friday July 29, 8pm
Tottenham Hotspur v Atletico Madrid
© 2016 Herald Sun | This article first appeared in the Herald Sun on 2 March 2016.