FC Bayern Munchen cruised into the final of the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2013 on Tuesday, comfortably disposing of semi-final opponents Guangzhou Evergrande FC 3-0.
Philipp Lahm, named Toyota Man of the Match, could not hide his delight after the encounter. “We knew exactly what we were dealing with,” explained the captain.
“The backroom staff had done a lot of good groundwork. We wanted to dominate possession in midfield, which we succeeded in doing. We kept our focus and put in a good performance.”
One player who was instrumental in the resounding success was attacking midfielder Mario Gotze. Lively and creative, the German international helped Bayern to negotiate a path through the defensive barrier put in place by the Asian champions. One of the highlights of his excellent display was a fine interchange on the right with Toni Kroos, who crashed a shot off the bar.
The source of numerous dangerous moves, the Bayern No19 exerted his influence throughout the 90 minutes. Interviewed by FIFA.com post-match, Gotze appeared satisfied with the result. “We’ve done what was asked of us by qualifying for the final. Apart from the chances that we missed, it all went to plan,” he said.
Indeed, the UEFA Champions League holders were not at their most clinical, passing up several clear-cut opportunities. Gotze’s goal, his team’s third, was not the result of an intricate team move, but instead came from a long-range shot.
Be that as it may, the dynamic playmaker just seemed happy to have found the back of the net. “It’s a unique event. Who knows if I’ll ever get the chance to take part again?” he pointed out.
Despite his incredible talent, the young German cannot claim any direct credit for the Bavarians’ current presence in Morocco. Bayern secured a spot at the Club World Cup following their Champions League triumph over Borussia Dortmund – Gotze’s employers at the time – in May.
Over the summer, the 21-year-old midfield man left Dortmund for Munich in a high-profile deal worth €37m. Forced to sit out the all-German final from the Wembley stands due to a thigh injury, the disappointment he felt at watching his side lose was evident to television viewers around the world.
And yet, it was that painful reverse that now sees him compete in the world’s most prestigious club competition. “That was another season. Now we need to look forward. The two situations are not the same,” he said firmly.
Gotze will now look to put in another strong display in Saturday’s final in Marrakesh to mirror his efforts against Guangzhou. The Germans will face the side that emerges victorious from the second semi-final between Moroccan representatives Raja Casablanca and Copa Libertadores winners Atletico Mineiro.
Gotze did not appear unduly concerned over the identity of Saturday’s opponents, simply stating, “The match will definitely be tough, no matter which team we face. I hope it’ll be us lifting the trophy by the end of the game.”
For Lahm, victory would represent the cherry on the cake of a remarkable year for Bayern. “Getting to the final was a must – it gives us the opportunity to get our hands on another trophy.”
If Lahm and Gotze can repeat Tuesday’s performance at the weekend, the chances of them hoisting the trophy in question certainly look good.