During the course of their 102-year history Boca Juniors have forged a reputation for passion, determination and an unquenchable desire for success. As you might expect for such an ambitious club, most of players who have pulled on the blue and gold jersey over the years have embodied these exact qualities. Among the current crop of natural born winners is the versatile Paraguayan Claudio Morel Rodriguez, who arrived at the club in mid-2004 and has gone on to become a firm favourite with the demanding Xeneizefans.
Just hours before the final with AC Milan in Yokohama, the 29-year-old shared his thoughts with FIFA.com and spoke about his special relationship with the Bombonera faithful, the secret to stopping Kaka and his dream of winning of the trophy with one of his trademark free-kicks.
"Nothing compares to this," says Morel when asked about the importance of Sunday's showdown. "The Club World Cup is much more important than anything we've won so far. It's a special tournament and I just hope we can win on Sunday and take the trophy back to Argentina."
As far as the defender is concerned, the fact that the mighty Milan are standing in Boca's way only adds to the prestige of the occasion. "There's nothing like taking on a big side, one of the best clubs in the world with all their stars. If we win, we'll be the best team on the planet. You can't ask for any more than that."
Boca's hopes of landing the trophy clearly hinge on their ability to blunt the threat posed by Kaka, who once again showed his qualities in Milan's win over Urawa Red Diamonds. And to do that they will need Morel to be at his very best.
"With his ability to find space, Kaka can really hurt you. That's why we really need to get on top of him and stop him playing. Players like him don't like that," explains Morel, who admits to being a little disappointed with the Italians in their opening game. "I expected a lot more from them. I really hope they come out and play an open game on Sunday. They're a great team, they know how to keep their cool and they control possession well. We're capable of winning this tournament, though, and we're in the final for a reason."
The Paraguayan, a self-confessed admirer of Roberto Carlos and Oscar Ruggeri, is more than just a destroyer, however, and his dead-ball abilities add an important dimension to Boca's attacking play. "It would be wonderful to score the goal that wins the Club World Cup, but I have to be realistic. As long as we win, I don't care who scores the goal."
A winning goal on Sunday would assure the player idol status at a club with more than its fair share of heroes, not that the modest Morel is out to make a name for himself. "I feel loved by the fans but I'm not an idol. That's a very strong word. I think people like me because I'm the type of player who gives everything out on the pitch and I never let my head drop, even when things aren't going well."
It is that never-say-die attitude that the Argentinians will
need if they are to overcome Milan and make Morel's biggest
dream a reality. "I want nothing more than to win and take the
cup back to my wife and my children Axel and Eliel. I miss them a
lot, but the sacrifice is worth it."
Spoken like a true Xeneize.