For North Texas soccer fans, it’s a big deal when European powerhouses FC Barcelona of La Liga and AS Roma of Serie A come to town — even if most of the best-known stars on the teams, including the iconic Lionel Messi, aren’t making the trip.
On the bright side, when the friendly kicks off late Tuesday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the tens of thousands of fans will get a first glimpse of many newcomers who have just joined both clubs — including a few players who are on their way to becoming household names. (See “Players to Watch” below.)
The “friendly” match is part of the International Champions Cup, an annual summer tournament in which Europe’s most famous clubs play exhibitions in the United States and other countries in an effort to spread their fan base, grow their television audience and sell lots of jerseys. It’s the first ICC match in North Texas since 2014, when Roma played Real Madrid in front of 57,512 fans at Dallas’ Cotton Bowl.
And, it’s the first ICC match at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, which will be among the U.S. venues hosting a World Cup match in 2026. AT&T Stadium also is one of just three facilities in the running to host the 2026 World Cup final, which is expected to lure hundreds of thousands of tourists to the host site and garner a TV audience of about 1 billion. (MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and the Rose Bowl in California are the others in the running.)
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Players to watch
If these guys get significant minutes on Tuesday night, that alone will make attending the match worthwhile:
▪ Justin Kluivert, Roma — The 19-year-old striker is the son of former Dutch footballer Patrick Kluivert. Roma acquired him from Dutch club Ajax in June. Kluivert has mad ball-handling skills, and isn’t afraid to fire cannonball-like blasts from way outside the penalty area.
▪ Malcom, Barcelona — This Brazilian winger is only 5-foot-7, but is strong, fast and persistent. Plus, he has technical ability that often embarrasses the pants off his opponents.
Also, there is a bit of bad blood between Barcelona and Roma over Malcom, who was courted by both clubs.
Malcom, who played the last several years in Bordeaux, France, was deep into negotiations this summer to transfer to Roma. It was so close that Italian fans were reportedly at the Rome airport waiting to welcome him — but at the last minute he had a change of heart and signed with Barcelona instead.
▪ Arthur, Barcelona — This 21-year-old center midfielder from Brazil, where last names are optional for prized athletes (his last name is Melo) loves to handle the ball in crowds and makes dazzling passes. Arthur was acquired by Barcelona in the spring, and his style is sure to fit in nicely with the club.
Watch on TV
The match will be televised live beginning at 9 p.m Tuesday on ESPN.
Don’t want to watch at home? The Fort Worth area has several pubs that cater to fans of The Beautiful Game.
Abbey Pub, 2710 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth
Upper 90, 961 W. Magnolia Ave,. Fort Worth
The Londoner, 5150 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville
Go to the match
Plenty of tickets are available.
How to get tickets: Last week, SeatGeek was showing plenty of tickets still available for the match. Prices ranged from just under $300 for lower level, midfield seats to as little as $33 along the end line in the upper deck.
The official seating capacity at AT&T Stadium is listed at 80,000 for the ICC match, but the organization doesn’t release information about how many tickets have been sold prior to kick off. Most of the ICC matches this summer in the U.S. have drawn 18,000 to 35,000 fans, although the Liverpool-Borussia Dortmund face off July 22 in Charlotte (featuring Dortmund’s sensation from America, Christian Pulisic) had an attendance of 55,447.