Most of the best of MLS and Italian giant Juventus will meet in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday in Atlanta.
While there will be stars aplenty — such as Atlanta United’s scoring machine Josef Martinez and Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira — as is the case with many all-star games, it’s the absences that draw attention.
Foremost, recently signed megastar Cristiano Ronaldo is not with Juventus.
“Even we are disappointed not to have Ronaldo here,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Same goes for (Gonzalo) Higuain, (Paulo) Dybala, (Juan) Cuadrado, (Rodrigo) Bentancur and Douglas Costa, but they played in the World Cup and needed some vacation.”
Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan is disappointed not to face Ronaldo and other missing Juventus players.
“Obviously those guys are world-class players,” Guzan said. “What I would say is we’re excited by the opportunity to play such a historic club on Wednesday.
“With or without them, it’s going to be a difficult game. We know that. Obviously, their names alone bring a lot of attention. It’s probably a bit of a shame for everyone on the outside, but for me personally, hopefully it makes for an easier night.”
MLS will be missing Los Angeles Galaxy striker and former Manchester United standout Zlatan Ibrahimovic, citing fatigue, and New York City FC’s David Villa (injured).
Still, an expected crowd of more than 70,000 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be entertained, beginning with Martinez. He has 24 goals in 23 games and could shatter the MLS record of 27 goals in a season.
Toronto FC midfielder Sebastian Giovinco is also excited to play his former team, for whom he played from 2006 until 2015, scoring 14 goals in 93 appearances.
“It’s normal playing against my old team and the team in which I grew up,” Giovinco said. “It’s also always nice to meet my old friends. I can’t wait to play on Wednesday.”
—Field Level Media