Eight things I learned at the press conferences featuring the manager Veljko Paunovic, captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Bradley of the MLS All-Stars and manager Zinedine Zidane and Toni Kroos of Real Madrid in Chicago on Tuesday.
The teams will play each other on Wednesday at Soldier Field.
- Schweinsteiger said he fell in love with MLS as a player with Bayern Munich when it took on the MLS All-Stars in Portland in 2014. “I could feel the atmosphere, the positive atmosphere,” he said. “I said to my brother, ‘why not play once in MLS?’” Schweinsteiger signed with Chicago after 342 appearances at Bayern Munich and 18 at Manchester United.
- Though Real Madrid’s team won’t include Cristiano Ronaldo, Schweinsteiger and Bradley said the team still features so many talented players such as Isco and Casemiro. The key will be to not make easy mistakes that Madrid can capitalize on. Real Madrid’s roster for the game also includes goalkeeper Keylor Navas, defenders Dani Carvajal, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, midfielders Asensio, Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, and forwards Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
- Schweinsteiger said it doesn’t matter that it’s a friendly, he wants to win the game. Since adopting this format in 2005, the MLS All-Stars have posted wins against Fulham Chelsea (twice), Celtic, West Ham, Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur, and losses to Arsenal, Roma, Manchester United (twice) and Everton.
- If the All-Stars can win, Schweinsteiger said maybe it means they can win the World Cup. (That was a joke).
- Schweinsteiger doesn’t want to swap jerseys with any of Real Madrid’s players because he said he wants to keep his All-Star jersey.
- Schweinsteiger said he knows most of Real Madrid’s players. He has worked this week on learning the first names of his MLS teammates.
- Paunovic said he selected four centerbacks, including Atlanta United’s Michael Parkhurst, to add depth and fill in certain positions.
- (I could have misheard this, I was standing far away in the room and my recorder didn’t pick it up well, but it sounded like Schweinsteiger said that MLS could approach the level of the Premier League or Bundesliga in 10 years.)