The 2014 Club World Cup
It’s December, which means it’s FIFA’s Club World Cup and it is again being held in Morocco. There are seven teams taking part, a format which started in 2006. There are the Champions from each of the six federations and a team from Morocco, Moghreb Athletic de Tétouan.
Athletic, the Moroccan champions kicked off the tournament against FC Auckland, the Oceania champions and were unlucky to go out on penalties after the game ended in stalemate and a 0-0 scoreline. They will be disappointed not to have emulated Raja Casablanca, who represented Morocco last year and reached the semi-final stage. On the other hand, Auckland, appearing for the second time in the competition, will be glad they weren’t dumped out of the tournament at the first hurdle like last year. They play ES Sétif, representing Algeria and Africa, with a berth in the semis for the winner.
The other quarter-final is between Mexico’s Cruz Azul and Asian Champions Western Sydney Wanderers, who stunned most pundits by overcoming Al-Ahli in the Asian Champions league final. Western Sydney were only formed in 2012, which adds to their achievement. The smart money is on Cruz to win.
The big guns from South America and Europe join the competition at the semi-final stage next week. San Lorenzo from Argentina face an uphill task to lift the title. First they will have to overcome Auckland or ES Sétif, and then most likely Spain’s Real Madrid. San Lorenzo also have history against them, as only two teams from South America have won the title in its current format – Internacional and Corinthians in 2006 and 2012, both Brazilian teams. Cruz or Western Sydney will take on Real Madrid, and it would be a spectacular upset if they could beat the Spanish giants.
Expect a San Lorenzo v Real Madrid final, with Real being crowned champions.
stalemate: a draw, a game ending with no winner
emulate: copy; repeat
dumped out: be defeated in a competition (usually embarrassingly early)
the smart money is on A: most people think A will win
uphill task: a difficult job; a stern test
history against them: previous records and statistics don’t support their chances
an upset: a shock result; a surprise