FIFA Club World Cup begins in Japan on Thursday, and everyone wished for the Final match to be between European Champions – FC Barcelona and South America Champions – River Plate. Unfortunately, that cannot happen since the draw decided for those two clubs to meet in the semi-finals.
The tournament will be played in two cities – Osaka and Yokohama. Spanish and Argentinian giants may be surprised by Chinese Guangzhou Evergrande, Mexican club America, Mazembe from Congo, Auckland from New Zealand, and the hosts Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
“Barca” is the absolute favorite of this tournament, although the Champion from 2009 and 2011 will be weakened by the absence of Brazilian, Neymar da Silva, who got injured in training this week and will pause at least seven days.
FIFA Club World Cup is being held in Japan for the first time since 2012. In 2013 and 2014, the tournament was held in Morocco.
The FIFA World Club Championship Final is scheduled for December 20th.
Barcelona (Spain) – European Champion is an absolute favorite in Japan. Led by the trio Messi-Neymar-Suarez, Catalans are much stronger than any team, regardless of Neymar’s absence.
“We go to Japan with the intention to play two tough matches. We consider this competition very important. Everyone predicts that we will win, but first we need to get to the finals,” said vigilant defender Javier Mascherano.
River Plate (Argentina) – Champion of South America did not shine this season in the domestic league and ended up being only ninth in the league table. All in all, a very disappointing season.
“We want to win against Barcelona. We have to win, this has been a dream for all our supporters,” announced Matias Rivera Kranevitter, midfield leader for River Plate.
Mazembe (Congo) – The best team of Africa returns to the place where they became a sensation five years ago, as they were the first team from Africa to reach the finals of the competition. Their main advantages are experienced goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba, who was also present in 2010, and the top scorer of the African Champions League Mbvana Samata.
“I’m proud to play in such a competition and represent my country, Tanzania, because there are not many players from my country who made it as professionals in football,” said Samata.
Guangzhou Evergrande (China) – It is expected that the Chinese champion will be the main challenger to Barcelona and River Plate, given the large investment and the progress of this team in recent years. Luiz Felipe Scolari has a respectable team led by his compatriots Robinho, Paulinho, Alan and Elkeson.
“The whole team is looking forward to the World Cup, we are staying optimistic but concentrated on the first match. We expect to reach the semi-finals against Barcelona,” said the captain and chief playmaker Zheng Zhi.
Club America (Mexico) – Although Mexicans are unbeatable at optimism and always lurk in the shadows of expensive European teams, they never reached their potential or surprised us so far. The most successful representative of the Central American country hopes that this is finally their chance and are looking all the way towards the Finals.
“We do not want to be just participants, we want to achieve something here. We will try to play the best we can and present Mexico better than ever before,” said goalkeeper Mojses Munoz.
Auckland (New Zealand) – Veterans from New Zealand have the most appearances in the competition, this will be their seventh participation. Their most successful appearance was last year when they won the third place in Morocco.
“We know that we can confront the best teams of the world. Players have a great responsibility because they represent the entire New Zealand and Oceania,” said assistant coach Ivan Vicelic.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japan) – The local champion won participation at this competition as a host, but they do not see themselves as an outsider. In 2012 they eliminated Auckland, with whom they will meet again in Round 1.