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Barcelona win 2017 International Champions Cup

Barca defeat Real Madrid 3-2 to win 2017 ICC

Gerard Pique's strike settled a fiercely contested clash as Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-2 in Cristiano Ronaldo's absence for the 2017 ICC win in Miami, Florida. Barca’s Gerard Pique delivered the match winner for Barca against Real Madrid on Saturday in the El Clasico Miami. The Spanish international sent in a Neymar free-kick in the 50th minute to break the tie and seal a 3-2 win for the Catalan giants in front of a sold out crowd of 66,014 enthusiastic fans at the Hard Rock Stadium. Superstar Barcelona striker Lionel Messi opened the scoring at 3 minutes and continued his brilliant performance for 64 minutes. Ivan Rakitic doubled the lead soon after Messi’s goal. Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid side picked then woke up to improve their game, and by the end of the first half, goals from Mateo Kovacic and Marco Asensio had put Real Madrid level with Barcelona. Pique struck the decisive goal to give Barca the victory.

The overall record between these two old arch-rivals stands at 93 wins for Real Madrid, 91 for Barcelona. Barca won their most recent meeting due to Messi's last-gasp winner, his 500th for Barcelona. However, Real Madrid won the 2017 Spanish La Liga championship and the Champions League. Real Madrid went into the ICC match with Real Madrid in Miami after two exhibition defeats - a penalty shoot-out defeat to Manchester United, and a 4-1 defeat by Manchester City in Los Angeles. Barca went into the match after defeating Manchester United and Juventus in International Champions Cup friendly competition. The ongoing transfer uncertainty regarding Neymar with Paris Saint-Germain's reported effort to make a €218 million move for him cast a serious cloud over the last two weeks. The Brazilian international started for Ernesto Valverde's side and was key to their victory. Neymar’s team-mates will head home, but he will fly to China to perform commercial obligations on behalf of the Barcelona.

Barcelona manager Valverde put off post-match questions about Neymar. "I always try to talk about things that happen rather than things that might happen," said Valverde. "We are going to wait. From my perspective, we have Neymar in our team, we count on him and we have to see." On Saturday in Miami, Neymar started for Barcelona alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, while Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema were all chosen by Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. Argentine Messi opened the scoring with only three minutes on the clock when he lifted a shot past Keylor Navas via a deflection off Raphael Varane. Soon after, Navas was picking the ball out of the back of the net once again. At six minutes, Neymar squared the ball and it found Rakitic, whose finish was clinically struck in the seventh minute. At 13 minutes Suarez fired over from close range.

On Madrid's first effort on goal, Zidane's side scored as Croatian Kovacic evaded a challenge just outside the box and sent the ball past the outstretched hand of goalie Jasper Cillessen. Navas stopped Messi once again at 31 minutes in a key save before Asensio leveled for Madrid in the 36th minute past an exposed Cillessen. Zidane said there was plenty of time to get things right before Madrid take on Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup on August 8. "Today was a game of two faces for us, one bad, one better," said Zidane. "Ultimately we are preparing for the eighth. We will be ready."

After the restart, Neymar’s pinpoint free-kick was steered home by Pique in the 50th. "We made a good start, generated some good opportunities," Valverde said. "Overall, we did well trying to dominate the match. I expect the best from Messi and all the players but he is extraordinary and we are aiming to win all the titles this season." Neymar departed on 72 minutes in what may have been his final performance for Barcelona. "I don't want to speculate about Neymar," Valverde said after the win. "I see him in the same place I have seen him recently: on the pitch with us."

"Personal commitments" prevented Portugal international superstar Cristiano Ronaldo from making the trip to Miami to play in the historic pre-season Miami El Clasico against bitter rivals Barcelona at the International Champions Cup on Saturday. Ronaldo also missed Madrid's first two ICC matches in California, a penalty shoot-out loss to Manchester United and a 4-1 walloping by Manchester City,  as he was vacationing with his girlfriend and in Asia for sponsor commitments. The four-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo is at the center of accusations that he defrauded Spanish tax authorities out of €14.7million after helping Madrid to both Spanish La Liga and Champions League glory and silverware last season.

"Unfortunately, Ronaldo's personal commitments precluded him from being here," said Miami Dolphins owner and Relevent Sports chairman Charlie Stillitano. "He really wanted to be here. This is not a diva situation. He was hoping that he could make it. He waited until today to let us know, but it just didn't work out. Mr. Stephen Ross did everything possible to get him here, and Cristiano said he was very grateful for that. I'm extremely disappointed, but we still have the two best teams and the top stars minus one."

Ross pulled out all the stops to get Ronaldo to his stadium, including having a private jet waiting for the 32-year-old. "We've reached out, we've done everything," Ross said on Thursday before the match. "That weekend, he has some complex issues as you all know, back in Spain. I've got a plane waiting. He hasn't said finally no. We’ll probably know relatively soon." The news that Ronaldo would not compete in the much-publicized clash came as a blow to fans of the superstar and the organizers of the event who looked forward to only the second Clasico to be held outside of Spain. However, Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said the announcement did nothing to change his side's approach. 

“He’s on vacation and he has to take advantage of that also," the French coach said. "I think the rest of us, we’re ready to play and Cristiano will be with us the 5th to start the season.”

Squads for Miami Sunshine State Clásico

Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Marcelo, Varane, Ramos; Casemiro, Modric, Kovacic; Benzema, Bale, Asensio

Barcelona: Cillessen; Vidal, Umtiti, Piqué, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar

Real Madrid will remain in the United States for a few days to prepare for its preseason August 2 clash with the MLS All-Stars at Soldier Field in Chicago. Barcelona's preseason will conclude on August 7 when Barca returns to Spain for a clash against Chapecoense at Camp Nou. The historic rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona will meet again twice in August in the Spanish Super Cup. Buy the best legal, guaranteed 2017 – 2018 Barcelona tickets and Real Madrid tickets for Spain La Liga and Champions League games at cheap prices now securely online from 1st4FootballTickets.com!

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