This weekend sees the return of the Emirates Cup for its second year and with the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus taking part the tournament is already proving to be a real success with both days now sold out. Last year’s inaugural competition also proved to be a big hit with the supporters, with the second day of the competition sold out with the fans getting to see Arsenal lift the trophy after victory over Inter Milan.
Unlike many pre-season tournaments the Emirates Cup seems to have grabbed the supporters attention and why wouldn’t it with four very successful and well known teams taking part. Whilst Real Madrid and Juventus has enjoyed recent success Hamburg can not be overlooked being one of Germany’s oldest and most successful sides, winning the European Cup in 1983. In fact Hamburg beat Juventus in 83 1-0 to claim their European crown so that game will have a bit of history to it.
Looking ahead to the event from an Arsenal perspective the Gunners will face Juventus on the Saturday and Real Madrid on the Sunday, both tough tests for the young squad as they bid to retain their crown. You’d imagine that Arsene Wenger will field a squad with a mixtures of old and new faces, much like he did last year when Kieran Gibbs was paired along side Robin van Persie upfront. It will all depend on how seriously Wenger will be taking this tournament with the new season just over two weeks away.
As always it would be nice for Arsenal to get some silverware under their belt although it won’t be a major disappointment if one of the other three teams walks away with the cup. It may be a worn out cliché but pre-season is all about getting back to match fitness and sharpness rather than the result. However a little silverware never hurt a team’s morale and with a long season ahead it might be the boost that the Gunners need to kick start their season.Take a look at Arsenal’s odds for the new season.
Arsenal’s success this season isn’t just based on what team Wenger puts out but also who the opposition field. I imagine that many of the supports going this weekend will be hoping to see all the big names that each squad has to offer and there are some big ones to look out for. For example Juventus could field World Cup winners Gianlugi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero and Mauro Camoranesi as well as Czech legend Pavel Nedved. Real Madrid may no longer be known as the Galatico’s but they boost a powerful squad with Euro 2008 winners Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos, World Cup winner Fabio Cannavero and other reknown names such as Raul, Robinho, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Arjen Robben filling their squad. Hamburg might not have as many big names in their side but their squad could include Dutch stars Nigel de Jong and Rafael van der Vaart and Croatian forward Ivica Olic. If you fancy Juventus to do well this weekend and for the season then here are the Serie A odds.
So potentially not a bad line-up and probably one of the main reasons why both days have sold out. Two matches for the price of one with those players involved is not something to be sniffed at. The Emirates Cup works because they invite big teams like that. Watching the Algarve Cup last week you realise why many fans shun pre-season tournaments. The Estadio Algarve was pretty much empty and who can blame the local people when the teams on offer were Cardiff, Celtic, Middlesbrough and Vitoria Guimaraes. No offence to any of the sides but they won’t be pulling in the crowds from far and wide.
Having said that the big clubs can’t be everywhere at once and as I mentioned previously managers look at the games as a chance for players to regain their match fitness. So as a means to regain fitness I don’t believe there is any finer way to do it than at the Emirates Cup and hopefully we will be able to see Arsenal lift the trophy once again as they embark on a potentially difficult season.