This week’s main report takes a look at the FIFA Club World Cup and wonders does anyone really care? The transcript and vocabulary explanations of the words in bold can be found below.
Who are the best team in the world? An often-asked question among football fans and more often than not a very difficult one to answer. After all, teams are never consistently brilliant but they experience dips in form, transfers and injuries play their part and, of course, different teams play in different leagues under different conditions so we will never know which team is in fact the best in the world. If only there was some form of tournament to decide such a title…
Of course, one such competition does indeed exist but there is so little attention paid to it that many football fans across the world might be hard-pressed to even name last year’s winners. England’s Manchester United are the current champions but they will not be retaining their title this season after losing in the Champions League final to Barcelona earlier this year. Instead, it is the Catalan side who have the honour of representing Europe in this season’s Club World Cup. Alongside Barca in this year’s tournament, that is currently taking place in the UAE, are the South American champions Estudiantes from Argentina, Atlante from Mexico – the CONCACAF winners, Congolese side TP Mazembe are the continental champions of Africa, Korea’s Pohang Steelers will represent Asia and Auckland City from New Zealand will do the same for the Oceania region. Local Abu Dhabi side Al Ahli will also take part but they have already justified their tag as minnows after having lost to Auckland.
Now Auckland’s next match is the quarter-final against Atlante a game they are not expected to win – the winners of that match plays Barcelona – while the Pohang Steelers will play the Argentinian powerhouse, Estudiantes, in the other semi-final. It would be a huge shock if the team from La Plata were not to reach the final against Barcelona, after all, since the tournament was reorganised four years ago, South American and European sides have always reached the final.
Little of the huge interest in the World Cup draw that took place last week in South Africa has seemed to rub off on this end-of-year tournament, with apathy all around. Tickets have sold out for the final but there does not seem to be much interest from the locals with even less so in Europe. Though FIFA have grandly announced that the winners of the Club World Cup will be the best team in the world, most football fans would be hard-pressed to agree, at least with the format currently being employed.
dips in form: To lower the standard, to not play as well as they can
hard-pressed: Find it very difficult
justified their tag as minnows: They did as badly as everyone expected (minnows = very weak side)
the quarter-final: A knock-out match between the last 8 teams in a tournament
powerhouse: A very strong team
to rub off: To have an effect on, to influence
apathy: When no one really cares
the format : The way the tournament is organised, the organisation