The Herbalife World Football Challenge concludes Saturday with two world-renowned teams colliding at one of the biggest stadiums in the country. FC Barcelona faces Club America at Cowboys Stadium (3 p.m. on ESPN, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes) as part of the 14-match international friendly soccer tournament hosted in the United States and Canada.
FC Barcelona: The reigning UEFA Champions League champions will surely draw a crowd despite the absence of a few key players. Two-time FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Dani Alves and Alexis Sanchez participated in the 2011 Copa America with their respective national teams in July. They were left off FC Barcelona’s travel roster for its three-game U.S. tour with the La Liga season opener scheduled for August 20 against Malaga (barring a labor dispute that’s threatening to delay the season). Among those on the roster include eight players from the 2010 FIFA World Cup champion Spain squad highlighted by Xavi, David Villa, Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta --who scored the lone goal in the World Cup final against the Netherlands.
In its two previous Herbalife World Football Challenge matches, FC Barcelona fell victim to Manchester United 2-1 before a record crowd at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., in a rematch of the UEFA Champions League final and lost 4-1 to Chivas de Guadlajara at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
Club America: The popular Primera Division club has played a number of friendlies in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It will play its third match at Jerry World, but is still seeking its first win. Club America lost 2-0 to Chelsea FC in front of 57,229 during the inaugural World Football Challenge in 2009, and fellow Primera Division club San Luis FC handed Club America its second loss, 3-0, in 2010.
Unlike FC Barcelona, Club America is in the middle of its season and has a match against San Luis FC on August 13 against UANL. Club America has made 17 substitutions in its first two World Football Challenge matches, and the high number of switches will likely continue given the circumstance. Club America was blanked in its two challenge friendlies, falling to Manchester City, 2-0, at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and to Juventus, 1-0, at Citi Field in Flushing, N.Y.