For Giovinco, Madrid brings back Juventus Champions League memories

Sebastian Giovinco -- shakes hands -- Iaqunita

CHICAGO – Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game won’t be the first time Toronto FC superstar Sebastian Giovinco faces off against Real Madrid.

The 30-year-old Italian has a history against the Spanish giants, having faced off against them while with Juventus in the group stages of the 2008-09 and 2013-14 UEFA Champions League. 

Giovinco will undoubtedly get another run out against Madrid on Wednesday in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game (8:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, TSN, TVAS), though the stakes admittedly won’t be as high in the friendly at Soldier Field as in his previous meetings against Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Co.

“I’m curious to see how we play tomorrow,” Giovinco told reporters on Tuesday after All-Star training. “I remember victories against them, a lot of losses, and maybe a draw here and there. But they are beautiful memories, and you grow from them.” 

Giovinco and Juve came out on top in both of their meetings with Madrid in 2008, beating Los Blancos 2-1 in Turin before upsetting them 2-0 in Spain en route to winning their group. Giovinco made the 18 but didn’t get off the bench for either of those matches, but did see time in both of Juventus’ contests against Madrid in 2013. He came on as a second-half sub in their 2-1 loss at Madrid in October of that year, then played the final two minutes of the sides’ 2-2 draw in November. The dropped points at home would prove to be costly for Juventus, who, after losing their group stage finale, missed the knockout rounds by one point.

Getting a result on Wednesday will be a tall order for an MLS team that came together for the first time on Monday. Madrid, who Giovinco called “the best team in the world,” have lost all three matches on their summer tour of the US, perhaps raising their motivation for Wednesday’s contest.

“I don’t know [how we can pull off the upset] – it’s difficult to play against this team,” he said. “We have to put everything on the field and we’ll see after the game how it is.”

One of the more interesting All-Star storylines from MLS' perspective is the possibility of Giovinco and New York City FC star David Villa taking the field together. Giovinco didn’t yet know if he and Villa would play at the same time – “I hope to play with him” – but was excited for another chance to make more beautiful memories against Madrid.

“We have to see what level their preseason is in,” he said. “We have to see if we are a good level. This is a game we try to do our best and let’s see – we’ll have fun.”