Estudiantes will make their bow at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 on Tuesday, in the semi-final of the tournament which runs until 19 December. The Copa Libertadores winners will take on AFC Champions League holders.
This will be the Korea Republic outfit's second match here in Abu Dhabi, following their 2-1 quarter-final victory over African representatives TP Mazembe. They will not have it easy against the Argentinian powerhouses, however, and this battle of styles will no doubt make for an exciting match.
Pohang Steelers–Estudiantes, Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday 15 December, 20.00 (local time)
This is the first time that the Argentinians and their star player Juan Sebastian Veron have qualified for a FIFA Club World Cup in its current guise. The last time that they were involved in the global showpiece was in the event's forerunner the Toyota Intercontinental Cup back in 1970, when they lost to Feyenoord 3-2 on aggregate.
The Steelers made it through to the last four here with a 2-1 quarter-final win over Mazembe, Brazilian forward Denilson bagging a brace and ensuring that his fellow South Americans will keep a close eye on him in the semi.
Estudiantes, meanwhile, will be relying heavily on Mauro Boselli. The 24-year-old was not only the top scorer in the South American continental competition but also gained some valuable FIFA Club World Cup experience at Japan 2007 when he represented Boca Juniors.
If Pohang Steelers are to create an upset, they will have to take any and all chances which come their way. The Korean team squandered a number of opportunities against the CAF champions, with the two goals that they managed proving just enough. They are unlikely to have as much possession against Estudiantes though, meaning that Denilson and above all Kim Jae Sung, who missed several opportunities in the quarter-final, will have to keep a cooler head in front of goal.
5 – At all five previous FIFA Club World Cups, the South American team has reached the final, and in 2000, 2005 and 2006, Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Internacional respectively went on to lift the trophy. In the last two years, however, Boca Juniors and Liga de Quito each lost out to European opposition.
"The fact that we fell behind against Mazembe but managed to turn the match around gives us the confidence we need going into the match against Estudiantes. They are a very strong and experienced team and it'll be tough, but we have the self-belief," Sergio Farias, Pohang Steelers coach.
"We got to see the Koreans play live for the first time, and we know that it'll be a tough match. I think that they will let us make all the running, so it will be up to us to take the game to them. Pohang like to play on the break, but they showed against Mazembe that they can turn a match on its head, so we'll have to be very careful," Rodrigo Brana, Estudiantes player.