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As anyone who has ever seen al El Clásico knows, matches between Futbol Club Barcelona and Real Madrid aren’t often described as friendly encounters. The two giants, which are world football’s biggest rivals, are known for their oft-heated matches and opposing styles, not to mention the colors of their shirts, which are the modern, deeply engrained versions of full-body war paint.
Yet when they meet at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida on July 29th, a friendly it will be, at least in name.
That’s because this summer’s match is not in La Liga, nor the Champions League, nor the Copa del Rey. It won’t come in European Super Cup, either, nor the Spanish Super Cup — although they will square off twice in the latter competition this August.
To the contrary, the July 29th El Clásico, the first ever to be held in the United States, will be a friendly, part of the preseason round robin tournament known as the International Champions Cup.
Curiously, this summer’s preseason El Clásico will mark just the second time ever that Barça and Madrid will have played each other outside of Spain. The first was in Barquisimeto, Venezuela on 30 May 1982.
Moreover, while it will be the 31st friendly featuring the long-time arch-rivals, it will be the first in 26 years. The last time Barça and Real Madrid met in an unofficial match came on September 11th, 1991, when they drew, 1–1, at Camp Nou in what was known as the Desafío Canal+ (the Canal+ Challenge), organized by a Spanish cable TV channel to showcase the two teams.
Speaking of nostalgia, July’s match in Miami — following friendlies with Juventus and Manchester United in New York and Washington D.C., respectively — will be Barça’s first visit, and second ever, to the Sunshine State since an August 2011 preseason encounter with Chivas Guadalajara.
Playing at Sun Life Stadium, which Hard Rock Stadium was known as from 2010 to 2016, Barça fell to Chivas, 4–1. Hence, this summer’s El Clásico gives Barça a perfect opportunity to even up their record in Miami.
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