Morocco is ready to host the seven teams looking to end the year as the kings of world football. This, the 11th FIFA Club World Cup, is the second to be held in Morocco and will feature five clubs who have never appeared in the competition before. San Lorenzo, Cruz Azul, Western Sydney Wanderers, ES Setif and Moghreb Tetouan are the newcomers who will join the returning Real Madrid and Auckland City in the quest to succeed Bayern Munich as the champions.
With their galaxy of star players, Real Madrid will head to North Africa as firm favourites to continue Europe’s domination of the tournament, the continent having provided six of the last seven winners. The Spanish giants will need little motivating. Morocco 2014 provides them with an opportunity to erase memories of their disappointing fourth place at the inaugural Club World Cup in 2000 and to win one of the very few trophies to have eluded them in their glorious history.
The other six sides in the competition know that beating Madrid will be no easy task. That does not mean to say, however, they will be going to Morocco to make up the numbers. San Lorenzo are a case in point. Sill buoyed by their long-awaited maiden Copa Libertadores win, El Ciclón boast a tightly knit squad and plenty of Argentinian grit, which should make them dangerous opponents. The same can be said of Mexico’s Cruz Azul. Though their form has been inconsistent of late, they do not lack experience and are determined to give Mexican football something to smile about following recent disappointments for the country’s teams in the competition.
Another side that will not be short of incentives are Moroccan champions Moghreb Tetouan, who will have the home support behind them as they look to follow the trail compatriots Raja Casablanca blazed last year in reaching the final. Likewise, the recently formed Western Sydney Wanderers of Australia and ES Setif of Algeria will head into the competition on a high after both enjoying a year to remember, while New Zealand’s Auckland City are looking to spring a surprise of their own in their sixth appearance in the competition.
The actions starts on 10 December, with Rabat and Marrakech providing the tournament venues. All that remains to be seen is who will succeed Bayern and take on the mantle of world club champions?
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