When: Thu., July 28, 8 p.m. 2011
Carter-Finley Stadium—Finally, world-class football is coming to Carter-Finley Stadium—just not American football. Tonight's game is a soccer contest pitting a team fondly called the Old Lady against another known as the Sacred Herd of goats. Now, admittedly, this exhibition match, billed as the World Football Challenge-brought-to-you-by-Herbalife, is a fabricated contest when these top clubs are really just in training and trying out new guys. But despite the near-meaninglessness of the game, any event that brings five World Cup winners and a storied Mexican club to the Triangle promises to be a special occasion. And the WFC events to date have produced some cracking stuff from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Shawn Wright-Phillips.
Juventus (the Old Lady) has 113 years of decorated history, including a record 27 Italian titles, but the proud franchise hasn't been the same since being relegated to second-division Serie B amid a match-fixing scandal in 2006. The club rebounded back to Serie A a season later, but two titles had to be abdicated. Though they're back in the elite division, they finished seventh last term. New manager Antonio Conte boasts a roster that includes 2006 World Cup winners Alessandro Del Piero, Gianlugi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Luca Toni and Andrea Barzagli.
Juventus' opponent is Chivas Guadalajara, and this Sacred Herd is unique in the Mexican Primera Division because the roster is completely native. Though you'd have to be a die-hard for your meter to move based on the current roster, in recent years the club has groomed Manchester United's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Arsenal's Carlos Vela and Fulham's Carlos Salcido. And earlier this month, Chivas gave Real Madrid a good match for 73 minutes until Cristiano Ronaldo produced a nine-minute hat trick that was almost good enough to forgive the globs of hair product his sported in his faux-hawk.
Tickets run $35–$75 for the 8 p.m. contest, which will be televised on ESPN 2 and GolTV. Fans of the Carolina RailHawks may want to take their tickets to pregame training sessions at Cary's WakeMed Soccer Park. —Joe Schwartz