Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

Real Madrid joined by Al Jazira: Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2017 team-by-team guide

John McAuley provides all the information you need on the clubs taking part in this year's tournament.

Real Madrid will head to Abu Dhabi to defend their Fifa Club World Cup title after becoming the first team in the Uefa Champions League era to defend the trophy. AFP
Real Madrid will head to Abu Dhabi to defend their Fifa Club World Cup title after becoming the first team in the Uefa Champions League era to defend the trophy. AFP

HOSTS: AL JAZIRA (UAE)

Founded: 1974

National titles: 2

Club World Cup apps: 0

As defending champions, Al Jazira will be the team to beat. Hassan Al Raisi / Aletihad
As defending champions, Al Jazira will be the team to beat. Hassan Al Raisi / Aletihad

How they got here: Al Jazira qualified for the tournament by winning the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League title – only the second UAE championship in their history and a first in six years. The capital club, seeking to break the division’s Al Ahli-Al Ain duopoly, sealed the trophy with two rounds to spare and eventually broke several professional-era records, including most wins in a season (22) and most points accrued (68). As hosts of the Club World Cup, they will follow in the footsteps of compatriots Al Ahli (2009) and Al Wahda (2010).

Manager: Henk ten Cate – the experienced Dutchman has turned around a flagging club by instilling newfound belief. A former assistant coach at Chelsea and Barcelona, he also led Jazira to the 2016 President’s Cup crown.

Key players: Ali Mabkhout, Ahmed Khalil, Mbark Boussoufa, Ali Khaseif, Mohammed Jamal.

Star stat: 33 - the number of goals scored by UAE striker Ali Mabkhout during the 2016/17 AGL season. It set a new professional-era record.

*If a team from the UAE wins the Asian Champions League, the Asian Champions League’s runners-up will be invited in place of Al Jazira.

CONCACAF: PACHUCA (MEXICO)

Founded: 1901

National titles: 6

Club World Cup apps: 3

Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda will be part of the Pachuca team taking part at the Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2017. Guillermo Arias / AFP
Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda will be part of the Pachuca team taking part at the Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2017. Guillermo Arias / AFP

How they got here: Club de Futbol Pachuca, the oldest team in the Mexican top flight, were the first side to qualify for the tournament, clinching a spot by defeating national rivals Tigres in the final of the 2016/17 Concacaf Champions League. Pachuca won the showpiece 2-1 on aggregate following a 1-1 first-leg draw at Tigres, and concluded the competition unbeaten at home. Argentine forward Franco Jara scored the final’s decisive goal. Nicknamed “Los Tuzos” (The Gophers), Pachuca are contesting the Club World Cup for the fourth time having previously competed in 2007, 2008 and 2010 – their most recent appearance coming in Abu Dhabi seven years ago.

Manager: Diego Alonso – the Uruguayan has built an incredibly solid side who are both miserly in defence and prolific in attack. The former international striker has blended a well-balanced team with experienced heads and talented youngsters.

Key players: Oscar Murillo, Erick Gutierrez, Jonathan Urretaviscaya, Keisuke Honda, Franco Jara.

Star stat: 1 – the number of defeats suffered by Pachuca en route to their fourth Concacaf title. It came in the semi-final first leg at FC Dallas.

UEFA: REAL MADRID (SPAIN)

Founded: 1902

National titles: 33

Club World Cup apps: 3

Real Madrid head to Abu Dhabi as the reigning European and world champions. Denis Doyle / Getty Images
Real Madrid head to Abu Dhabi as the reigning European and world champions. Denis Doyle / Getty Images

How they got here: The current Club World Cup champions, Real Madrid ensured they are back to defend their title by winning the Uefa Champions League for the second successive time. The Spanish giants defeated Juventus in the final at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on June 3, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 4-1 victory. Casemiro and Marco Asensio got the other goals. Madrid became the first side to successfully defend the European Cup since AC Milan in 1990, and are the first to do so in the Champions League era. They have won the Club World Cup twice, one short of Barcelona’s record three triumphs.

Manager: Zinedine Zidane – one of the finest footballers in history, the 1998 World Cup winner has transferred that success to management. Won seven trophies in his first 17 months in the Madrid dugout.

Key players: Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Star stat: 105 – the number of goals Cristiano Ronaldo had scored in the Champions League after his double in the final. He had already become the first player to break the 100 mark in the European Cup.

OFC: AUCKLAND CITY (NEW ZEALAND)

Founded: 2004

National titles: 6

Club World Cup apps: 7

Auckland City take their place at the Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2017 after winning the OFC Champions League. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images
Auckland City take their place at the Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2017 after winning the OFC Champions League. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

How they got here: Auckland City qualified for the tournament by winning the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League, when they recorded a resounding victory in the final against compatriots Team Wellington across two legs. Having won 3-0 at home in the initial meeting, Auckland then triumphed 2-0 away for an overall 5-0 win. It was the third successive year the two sides had met in the showpiece. Auckland’s ninth Club World Cup appearance is a record, with the club competing in 2006 and 2009 and then every year from 2011. This marks their second appearance in Abu Dhabi – they defeated hosts Al Ahli in 2009 before losing the quarter-final to Mexico’s Atlante.

Manager: Ramon Tribulietx – the Spaniard has placed emphasis on retaining the core of the squad from their six-year run at the Club World Cup. However, he has integrated a number of gifted compatriots, too.

Key players: Emiliano Tade, Joao Moreira, Micah Lea’alafa, Ryan De Vries, Enaut Zubikarai.

Star stat: 1 – the number of goals conceded in seven matches in the OFC Champions League. It arrived in the first group match, away to Solomon Islands side Western United.

OTHER CONFEDERATIONS:

Caf: Decided on November 3, 4 or 5

AFC: Decided on November 25

Conmebol: Decided on November 29

Updated: October 8, 2017 10:26 AM

Most Popular