With the Women’s World Cup, Copa America, and Concacaf Gold Cup officially in the books, your significant other is breathing a sigh of relief because a break in summer soccer has finally arrived, right?
Not so fast.
The transfer rumor mill is in full swing, plenty of intriguing switches have already come to fruition, and clubs around Europe have begun their preparations ahead of the 2019-20 season.
Laying the foundations for a successful campaign requires valuable exhibition matches to get players fit and build chemistry between new teammates, and FloFC is home to a healthy list of preseason friendlies taking place across the continent. Numerous big names from Europe’s top leagues are included. Here are five of the most intriguing exhibition games you won’t want to miss over the next few weeks.
1. Olympique De Marseille vs FCG Bordeaux | July 18
On Monday FloSports announced a partnership with France’s Ligue 1 and Elevate Sports to provide live coverage of the inaugural EA Ligue 1 Games hosted at D.C. United’s Audi Field. News recently broke that Italian international Mario Balotelli will longer suit up for Marseille, but his newest destination has yet to be confirmed. Manager Andre Villas-Boas will still have plenty of talent at his disposal as he looks to challenge PSG for the title, including the likes of Dimitri Payet, Kevin Strootman, and Florian Thauvin, among others.
Portuguese tactician Paulo Sousa made stops in Switzerland, Italy, and China since 2015 before joining Bordeaux in March as their third manager of the season. Significant strides need to be exhibited early on following six losses in seven games at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.
2. Everton FC vs Sevilla FC | July 27
In perhaps the juiciest of FloFC’s summer fixtures, Everton take on Sevilla in a matchup of two clubs ever-consumed with keeping pace with the perennial heavyweights in their respective leagues. The Merseyside Blues finished in a respectable eighth in the Premier League, due in large part to a final stretch of 11 matches where they won six and drew three. The Toffee faithful will be hoping to carry the momentum from the back end of last season into the new year, and new signing Fabian Delph from Manchester City will likely have a big say in how well the side performs.
Five-time Europa League champions Sevilla will have another shot at a continental title following their sixth-place finish in La Liga. Former Spain and Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetequi toes the touchline, while transfer specialist Monchi is back pulling the strings as the club’s sporting director following a disastrous spell at Roma. They have already spent in excess of €100 million so far this offseason in a complete rebuild effort.
3. FC Nantes vs Torino FC | July 31
French outfit FC Nantes have always had some of the best looking kits in the game.
A 12th-place finish came as a bit of a disappointment following two consecutive seasons of finishing in the top half of the table. They will have sure hands between the sticks moving forward, as talented Frenchman Alban Lafont (20) will be making his return to Ligue 1 after Fiorentina elected to loan him out after he served as their starter last year.
The other team in Turin captures most of the headlines, but Torino put together quite the season given the resources at their disposal. I Granata were in the thick of the fight for a European spot in the final month of the season thanks to a stingy defense and highly effective play on the counterattack under Walter Mazzarri.
Despite finishing in seventh, Torino have found themselves in the Europa League picture due to AC Milan pulling out of the tournament while dealing with Financial Fair Play requirements. If they can hold on to star striker Andrea Belotta amid interest from English and Italian clubs, they just might breeze through the qualifying rounds and ruffle the feathers of some of Europe’s biggest names in the group stage.
4. Besiktas JK vs Udinese Calcio | August 2
Besiktas topped the Turkish Super Lig for the 20th time in 2016-17 and only Fenerbahce and Galatasaray can boast more titles. U.S. men’s national team supporters will have plenty of reason to tune in with Tyler Boyd joining the team following his breakout in international play at the 2019 Gold Cup. Liverpool loanee Loris Karius, Chile’s Gary Medel, and Portugal veteran Ricardo Quaresma are a few of the familiar names on a talented roster.
Udinese have garnered a reputation in recent years for flirting with disaster and doing just enough to avoid the drop. Their previous campaign sent supporters on a roller coaster ride once again, and it took three managers to steady the ship and finish in 12th. Goalkeeper Juan Musso and midfielder Rodrigo De Paul — both Argentina natives and 25 years of age — have seen their stocks soar in recent months.
5. RCD Mallorca vs Getafe CF | August 7
If you’re just now finding out about the tiny club from the suburbs of Madrid, then it’s too late. Getafe put together one of the most impressive seasons in Europe in recent memory and looked set to steal La Liga’s final Champions League place, but their Cinderella story came crashing down on the final day of the season as their draw with Villareal saw Valencia leapfrog them into fourth.
While missing out on the biggest stage in Europe was a massive blow, participating in the Europa League is still an admirable achievement for a club that plays in front of just over 17,000 spectators. They will take on Spanish second division outfit Mallorca before facing off against Italian side Atalanta B.C. — who also punched high above their weight last year — in a final preseason test. Their domestic campaign gets off to one of the toughest starts imaginable when they travel to Atlético Madrid on August 18.