SANTA CLARA, Calif. - It was a thrill on Sunday for soccer fans in the Bay Area. Two of the world's best men's teams went head to head at Levi's Stadium.
But the much-anticipated matchup between Manchester United and Real Madrid didn't quite live up to expectations.
Justin Lara is a huge Manchester United fan, evident from his tattoo. He's been following the team around ever since they arrived Saturday. "You know, seeing all the players up close. They only come every two years or so, so it's important," he said.
For others, seeing Real Madrid at Levi's Stadium was a taste of home. San Francisco resident Maria Lopez-Larios is from Madrid. "It is really amazing, like the vibe and just to see them is incredible. Almost surreal," she said.
This matchup between the two teams was part of the International Champions Cup, a tournament established four years ago to bring many of the top international teams to North America.
But as exciting as it was to see these top players in person, many fans felt a little disappointed - players seemingly not giving it their all.
This was, after all, an exhibition match.
"They didn't live up to the hype, though. The game was pretty dull. There wasn't a lot going on," soccer fan Owen Hunt said.
And some key players were missing. Fan favorite Cristiano Ronaldo didn't show up. He's reportedly doing promotional work in China.
When asked if that was a disappointment, fan Sophia Bono said, "Yeah, a little bit. It's not like I'm going to meet him. That would be nice." But she says she wanted to watch him.
Yet despite all that was lacking, many say watching the best in the world here at home was still worth it. "These guys work together more, it seems, so they're more integrated in their teamwork and when they're pressing and when they're falling back as a team, there's nothing like it in the world," fan Philip McAvoy said.
In the end, Manchester United came out on top, beating Real Madrid 2-1 in penalties.
The U.S. will be playing Jamaica in the Gold Cup 2017 Final at Levi's Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
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