Real Madrid, founded in 1902, and recently named the "Club of the Century" by FIFA, is among the best-known soccer teams in the world alongside the likes Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Real holds a record eight European Cups to their credit and are the reigning European champion.
Some of the world's best players have worn the glorious Real white jerseys. The long list includes Alfredo Di Stefano, who played in Real's all-conquering team in the 1950s, Emilio "The Vulture" Butragueño, Míchel and Mexican legend Hugo Sánchez in the 1980s. Today, Real currently flaunts the presence of immensely talented midfielder Luis Figo (transferred from Barcelona for $56.1 million in 2000), prolific striker Raúl and durable Fernando Hierro in its star-filled roster.
The historic match versus Real Madrid will take place in Real's 78,000-seat home stadium, Santiago Bernabéu. The imposing venue was the scene of the 1982 FIFA World Cup final between Italy and Germany.
But Real is not the only challenge the groundbreaking Galaxy team will face. There also is stiff opposition coming from Africa and Japan.
The Galaxy will make their debut in the FIFA tournament, July 31, when they square off against Accra Hearts of Oak of Ghana. Hearts of Oak has taken their local success to the biggest stage in Africa during the past couple of years. Founded in 1910, The club was the African Super Cup champions in 2001 after winning the ABC Premier League title for the fourth straight year. Hearts of Oak also claimed the 2000 African Champions League title. Hearts was also FA Cup Champions this past year. Their two premier offensive players are striker Ishmael Addo, who had 19 league goals this year and Charles Allotey, who had six goals.
The Galaxy will take the field for their third and final first round match against Jubilo Iwata of Japan on August 6. The enterprising Japanese club has steadily climbed the ranks of Asian football during the last 10 years.
Founded in 1972, Iwata won the Asia Super Cup in 1999, after winning the J-League Suntory championship and league championship in 1999. Iwata finished as the runner-up in the most recent Asian Cup. They also claimed the Nabisco Cup title in 1998 and were the 1999 J-League champs. "Jubilo" means "delight" in Portuguese and Spanish. The name was chosen as "a great wish to provide joy and emotion for our supporters and all other people," according to the club's official web site.