Although Cruz Azul and Auckland City’s title hopes have now been dashed, both teams will be keen to sign off from the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014 with a win in the match for third place and a podium finish. The game marks the second time the Kiwis have faced Mexican opponents in this competition, having lost 3-0 to Atlante in the 2009 quarter-final.
Cruz Azul – Auckland City, Le Grand Stade de Marrakech, Saturday 20 December, 16.30 local time
Cruz Azul travelled to North Africa with lofty ambitions but struggled amid the pouring rain in their quarter-final against Western Sydney Wanderers, needing extra time to seal a 3-1 victory. The CONCACAF Champions League winners then suffered an emphatic 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the last four. Now captain Gerardo Torrado and his team-mates will be seeking to make up for this capitulation in the match for third place and become the third Mexican side to triumph in the Club World Cup’s “small final”, after Monterrey in 2012 and Necaxa in 2000.
For their part, Auckland City have already made history in Morocco by becoming the first Oceanic team to reach the semi-finals. The Navy Blues eliminated African sides Moghreb Tetouan and ES Setif from the competition before falling to Copa Libertadores champions San Lorenzo after a closely contested last-four encounter. A win over Cruz Azul would be the crowning achievement for Auckland after a remarkable tournament.
12 – This will be Auckland City’s twelfth game at a Club World Cup, bringing the New Zealanders level with previous record holders Al Ahly of Egypt.
"We are aware of the significance of finishing in third place. We want to go into the game with a strong will to win as it’s a very important match for us.”
Luis Fernando Tena, Cruz Azul coach
"My team have performed exceptionally well regardless of whether we win the last game or not. We’ve had a fantastic tournament. Naturally the players are very tired as they’ve been taken to extra time twice now. In any case, we can be very proud of what we've shown in this competition, and we’ve got to build on that. Hopefully this will be the start of a long and successful journey for Auckland City.”
Ramon Tribulietx, Auckland City coach