- Real Madrid aiming to claim FIFA Club World Cup for third time
- Gremio seeking to become fourth Brazilian winners
- Second time that Real will face a Brazilian club in this tournament
The Emirati city of Abu Dhabi will provide the stage for a mouth-watering final this Saturday, as the FIFA Club World Cup holders, Real Madrid, go head-to-head with the South American champions, Gremio, who will attempt to put an end to Europe’s recent domination of the event, just as Corinthians did five years ago in Japan.
The Real Madrid players arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, with their sights firmly set on lifting their fifth trophy of 2017. The Spanish giants also have the opportunity to become the first club to win the Club World Cup in successive years, having emerged victorious from the illustrious competition 12 months ago.
Standing between Los Blancos and that achievement are Brazilian powerhouses Gremio, who fancy their chances of springing a surprise and following in the footsteps of compatriots and former winners Corinthians (2000 and 2012), Sao Paolo (2005) and Internacional (2006).
Real Madrid vs Gremio
Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Saturday 16 December, 21.00 (local time)
What you need to know
After struggling to see off the challenge of UAE champions Al Jazira in the semi-finals, Real will be keen to put on a superior display in the tournament’s showpiece match. All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, recent recipient of The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award. The Portuguese superstar racked up 11 shots in the 2-1 victory (the highest total of any player on the pitch) over Al Jazira, one of which found the net as the European champions equalised in the second half.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane will be crossing his fingers that team captain Sergio Ramos is fit enough to make his return to a defence that was severely tested in the semi-final. And in the final, their opponents are likely to be significantly more physical than Al Jazira.
Gremio boss Renato Gaucho, meanwhile, will need to ensure than his charges are far more clinical in front of goal than they were in their last-four clash with Mexican outfit Pachuca. In the end, the Porto Alegre side required an extra-time goal from super sub Everton to save them from the lottery of penalty kicks.
3 – Saturday’s duel will be the third Club World Cup final to pit a Spanish team against a Brazilian side. Previously, Internacional beat Barcelona 1-0 in 2006, but the Catalans got their own back five years later, resoundingly defeating Santos 4-0.
Real Madrid have, in fact, played a team from Brazil once before in the tournament: they drew 2-2 with Corinthians in the inaugural edition in 2000.
“I won this type of trophy as a player, and I really want my players to win it too. We’re up against tough opponents, but Real can be sure that we’re going to battle till the final whistle.”
Gremio coach Renato Gaucho
“I’m familiar with Gremio because I’ve watched quite a lot of their matches, but I’m not too sure of the level of the Brazilian League right now. They’re a strong team, and they’ll give us a good game. It’ll likely be a difficult match. Like us, the Brazilians qualified for the final and they deserve to be there. They’ll want to win just as much as us; it’s not going to be easy.”
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane