Another year comes to an end and the champions of the continents in the club level find themselves once again vying for the chance to be named the Club World Cup Champions.
For those not familiar with the competition, it’s a seven team tournament with six of the teams coming in as continental champions from the six FIFA confederations. Those teams are Club America (CONCACAF/North/Central America), River Plate (CONMEBOL/South Africa), F.C. Barcelona (EUFA/Europe), TP Mazembe (CFA/Africa), Guangzhou Evergrande (AFC/Asia), and Auckland City (OFC/Oceana). While the seventh team is Sanfrecce Hiroshima, the 2015 J League champions from the host nation Japan.
The tournament is a knockout round formation tournament with F.C. Barcelona and River Plate holding a spot in the semifinals. TP Mazembe holds a spot in the quarterfinals and will play Sanfrecce Hiroshima after the Japanese club knocked off Auckland City in the play in game. In the other quarterfinals Club America faces Guangzhou Evergrande.
The Mexican club will fancy themselves favorites against the Chinese club. Club America is the most successful Mexican team with twelve domestic championships, and are one of the most powerful and richest teams in Mexico which gives them the muscle to throw money around to grab almost any player they choose.
Club America boast Mexican internationals Moses Munoz, Paul Aguilar and Oribe Peralta. There’s also American international Ventura Alvarado. Besides Peralta, the Eagles attack also has the fire power of Darwin Quintero and Dario Benedetto, while the midfield is led by Mexican- Argentine Rubens Sambueza.
Even though Club America might have one of the more impressive rosters in the Americas, their counterparts possess some familiar faces to the world of soccer. On the bench is World Cup winning coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari. Along with the Brazilian coach, there’s former Real Madrid and AC Milan player Robinho, who plays his trade for the Chinese club along with fellow Brazilian World Cup vet, and former Tottenham Hotspur, Paulinho.
Though the Chinese club has some high profile personnel on the team, top to bottom Club America will have a stronger XI and depth in the bench. The rest of the roster for Guangzhou is made of up Chinese internationals, who in reality, aren’t on the same level as the players Club America has. Can they show it on the field will be the question, as Mexican clubs have at times struggled to show they’re quality in this tournament.
Last year Cruz Azul fell to Auckland City in the third place game, which was seen as an embarrassment back home in Mexico considering the money and players La Liga MX has compared to the New Zealand league. In 2013, F.C. Monterrey lost in this stage of the tournament to Raja Casablanca of Morocco, which again was received with great embarrassment in Mexico.
Known as the most disliked team in Mexico, whose motto is, “Hate Me More,” now have the responsibility to represent La Liga MX on their shoulder and come away with a win in this match to set up the showdown against F.C. Barcelona in the semifinals.