Toronto Set to Host Panathinaikos v SL Benfica
The Greek Superleague finished with Panathinaikos running out winners with a six point lead above defending champions Olympiakos, and Benfica won the Portuguesa Liga with a five-point lead above second placed Braga. Now, these two respective champions will strut their stuff in Toronto FC’s BMO Field on May 23.
Just today, I attended the press conference for the upcoming event, where quite a few familiar faces were present. Most notably, Ioannis Samaras, ex-Panathinaikos star and father of Celtic striker Giorgos Samaras. Also, the Consul General of Greece in Toronto was present as an ambassador of the Greek community in Toronto.
Both parties are hoping for a competitive match, and stressed the importance of an atmosphere that would be both energetic and full of passion and national pride, but devoid of any trouble or bad intentions.
While much of the information discussed at the conference was about raising awareness in each respective cultural community about soccer, the fastest growing sport in Canada, there was also talk of how much the game itself would be worth to each club – a figure coming close to around $1 million.
Although some of the bigger names on each roster will not be present due to international duties at this year’s World Cup in South Africa, the players present at the event will provide more than enough class to take the game to a professional and competitive level. For Benfica, the likes of Javier Saviola and Javi Garcia, as well as David Luiz and Pablo Aimar are all expected to play. Panathinaikos on the other hand will be missing quite a few first-team players, but will still field the likes of Sebastian Leto and Simao Mate Junior.
All 22,000 tickets are likely to be sold out, so get yours now at www.ticketmaster.ca for an event that promises to be both culturally and competitively riveting!