Continents’ finest prepare for Japan
© Getty Images

The 160 players who will compete at Japan 2012 were confirmed this Thursday. To see the full squad list of each team, click on the respective link in the right-hand column.

Players from every continent, many with vast international experience, will begin competing for this year’s FIFA Club World Cup crown when proceedings get underway in Japan on 6 December. But which of the seven competing sides will be top of the podium after the final in Yokohama ten days later?

With a diverse squad containing players of nine different nationalities, London club Chelsea will be the most cosmopolitan side in Japan. Among their numbers will be veteran England stars John Terry, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech as well as Spain’s world and two-time European champion Fernando Torres.

Recently appointed coach Rafa Benitez, who led Inter Milan to triumph in this competition in 2010, will be hoping to blend the latter’s experience with the youthful promise of players like Belgium’s Eden Hazard, Brazil’s Oscar and possibly even his teenage compatriot Lucas Piazon, who finds himself among the professionals on this major global stage only a year after gracing the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.

With an English name but representing the finest traditions of Brazilian football, Corinthians will have the only two players at Japan 2012 to have already won this tournament (having actually played): left-back Fabio Santos and midfielder Danilo.

Both were champions with Sao Paulo in 2005, when their final opponents were a Liverpool side coached by none other than Benitez. In quite a homogenous-looking squad, holding midfielder Paulinho, who is establishing himself for Brazil, deserves singling out, as does veteran Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero, not least for his extensive experience.

Back in Japan for a second consecutive tilt at the title, Mexico’s Monterrey have a tried and tested nucleus of players, many of them local. Among that number are such key members as up-and-coming defender Severo Meza, who impressed against Neymar in a June 2012 international friendly with Brazil and has been a fixture with El Tri in their FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign, and forward Aldo De Nigris.

In addition to their Mexican stars, the CONCACAF champions have no shortage of South American talent in their ranks, including the experienced Argentinians Cesar Delgado and Neri Cardozo, Ecuador’s Walter Ayovi and prolific Chilean Humberto Suazo.

For their part, Egypt’s Al Ahly will be taking part in this tournament for the fourth time, their most recent appearance having been in 2008. The Cairo giants have in their ranks some of the most revered players in Egyptian football, including Mohamed Aboutrika and Gedo, who was outstanding in the latter stages of this year’s CAF Champions League. Representing Oceania, Auckland City FC can boast the most-capped New Zealander of all time in the form of their captain Ivan Vicelich.

Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai, can call on several members of the Korea Republic national team, including Lee Keunho, Kim Shinwook and Kwak Taehwi, while Japan’s representative Sanfrecce Hiroshima, the last to qualify after winning the recently concluded 2012 J-league, have in their ranks national-team goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa and a young team buoyed by this season’s success.