It’s FIFA‘s showcase for club football this week – The 2011 Club World Cup. On this report, we take a look at the teams in the competition and who will face who and which teams should get though each round. There is a report with a transcript below, as well as explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the post, while other key phrases (in blue) also have meanings explained.
It is time for the Club World Cup, the competition that pits together the champions from the six football confederations – that’s from Europe, South America, Central and North America, Asia, Africa and Oceania – And it’s back in Japan after a two-year break when the tournament took place in the United Arab Emirates.
The Club World Cup has had many guises and several host countries in its history. Before 2000 it was known as the Intercontinental Cup and played between the Copa Libertadores Cup and European Cup winners over two legs home and away. In 2000 it became the FIFA Club World Championship and was held in Brazil. 2004, and it was back to the Intercontinental Cup but played in Japan. 2005 saw a new name, the Club World Championship, before 2006 saw it settle on the name and format we have now – the Club World Cup.
So, this year which teams will try to be crowned the World’s best side? Well, Barcelona will be flying to Tokyo, after El Clásico in La Liga, to represent Europe. The Champions League winners are also the Spanish Champions and they are sure to be a huge draw for fans as they have been the stand out team in Europe over the past few years. Pep Guardiola’s side are slightly off the pace this season in Spain, six points behind Real Madrid, but they are through to the knockout stages of the Champions League with five wins and a draw out of six. They will be hoping to add to their Club World Cup title of 2009. In that competition they came up against a tough Estudiantes side and were pushed all the way. Only a last-minute goal in normal time saved them, and a goal by Messi in the 110th minute sealed the win. The champions from Europe and South America automatically start in the semi-finals, so they have a big advantage.
From South America and Brazil will be Santos, from Sao Paolo. They have a decent record in international club competitions, but that success was all in the 1960s when they won the Intercontinental Cup twice in ’62 and ’63 and the short-lived Intercontinental Supercup in 1968, where they beat Inter of Italy. In their first title in 1962 Santos beat Benfica over two legs 8-4 with Pele scoring five goals for his side. They come to this year’s competition as Copa Libertadores winners, but this season they have finished mid-table in Brazil’s top league. However, it is the end of the season for them and traditionally South American sides take this competition very seriously. They will be the biggest threat to Barcelona.
Flying the flag from Asia will be Al-Sadd from Qatar who were controversial in their Asian Champions League win. They beat Jeonbuk from Korea on penalties in that final. They will face African champions Esperance in the quarter-final – and the winners of this match will go on to face Barcelona in the semis. Esperance from Tunisia have had a fine season – doing a league and cup double at home and of course being the CAF champions. They have a young squad and if they don’t get upset by Al-Sadd’s gamesmanship, they should beat the side from Qatar.
In the other quarter-final, Kashiwa, from Chiba, Japan, and the CONCACAF Champions League Winners Monterrey meet to decide which team plays Santos in the other semi final. Kashiwa, come to his match after beating the Oceania representative, Auckland City, comfortably earlier this week. It is a debut for both these teams and Monterrey will be hoping not to fall at the first hurdle. However, with home support and the feel-good factor of having won their first domestic title, I think Kashiwa will get through to the semis after a tight game.
The semis are scheduled for the 14th and 15th of December and I think it will be Kashiwa versus Santos in one and Esperance pitted against Barca in the other. The final will be held on the 12th with most pundits expecting Santos v Barcelona. No team outside of Europe or South America has made it to the final yet and it won’t be changing this year either.
guise: form, format, structure, shape
leg: a match in a competition (in a two-match series)
El Clásico: the name for the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid
huge draw: a big attraction
the stand out team: the best team; a team that is clearly better than others
flying the flag: representing a country or place
gamesmanship: trying to win by twisting the rules; unfair play, cheating
fall at the first hurdle: lose in the first game; fail at the first challenge