The curtain comes down on the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 on Saturday, with Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City providing a suitably grand setting for the tournament finale. And as has been the case in the last four years, Saturday’s grand final pits together the Copa Libertadores champions and the kings of Europe, with Argentina’s Estudiantes taking on Barcelona of Spain.
Estudiantes-Barcelona, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, Saturday 19 December, 20.00 (local time)
Europe has held sway in the last two finals, a trend that Estudiantes will been keen to reverse as they bid to become the fourth South American side and the first Argentinians to win the FIFA Club World Cup. That should be motivation enough for El Pincha and their talisman Juan Sebastian Veron, who was a member of the Boca Juniors side that went down 4-2 to AC Milan at Japan 2007.
Barcelona also know what it means to lose in the final of the competition, having come off second best to Internacional of Porto Alegre three years ago despite the presence of Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto’o in their ranks. The Blaugrana machine is hungry for revenge, however, and is anxious to claim the one trophy still missing from the Camp Nou trophy cabinet. The winners of a magnificent league, cup and UEFA Champions League treble already this year, not to mention the Spanish and European Super Cups, the Catalans now have their eyes fixed firmly on an unprecedented sixth trophy. And judging by their impressive display against Atlante in the semi-final they have the resources to achieve just that. That said, they will need to be at their very best if they are to overcome a highly motivated and talented Estudiantes side.
5 – The number of consecutive FIFA Club World Cup finals between the representatives of UEFA and CONMEBOL. Also the number of Barcelona players who were in the side that lost to Internacional in the 2006 final: Victor Valdes, Rafael Marquez, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
“It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in a final like this, especially against a team with Barcelona’s reputation. We simply have to stop them creating chances and make the most of the ones we create,” Estudiantes captain Juan Sebastian Veron
“Estudiantes are a very tough side to move around. We need to take them very seriously because they are a team of real fighters. Our goal is to win this game, though, primarily because the club has never won the trophy before, and also because we missed out in the final three years ago,” Barcelona midfielder Xavi