- Gremio and Pachuca meet in the opening semi-final of UAE 2017
- O Tricolor are tournament newcomers, while Los Tuzos are playing their first semi in nine years
- The Mexicans are looking to win through to the final for the first time
Al Ain will play host to the first semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017. South American champions Gremio are still on a high following their recent Copa Libertadores win and have the aura that all Brazilian sides do when they grace the tournament. Pachuca have matched their 2008 achievement in reaching the last four, though they needed extra time to get past Club World Cup first-timers Wydad Athletic Club.
The winners of Tuesday’s game will take on Al Jazira or Real Madrid in Saturday’s final.
*Gremio vs Pachuca
Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Tuesday 12 December, 21:00 (local time) *
What you need to know
O Tricolor arrived in the Emirates full of enthusiasm and energy, as expected of a team that has never featured in the competition before. And with Brazilian sides having won the Club World Cup on several occasions, Gremio will command instant respect. Coached by club legend Renato Gaucho, the men from Porto Alegre will have to make do without young playmaker Arthur, though they can count on the talent of Olympic gold medallist Luan, the experience of Marcelo Grohe between the posts, and the goalscoring threat of front man Lucas Barrios.
Facing them will be a Pachuca side that could be excused for being a little fatigued after their 120-minute duel with Wydad. Yet given the importance Los Tuzos are attaching to the game, tired legs should not be too much of a disadvantage. Never anything less than committed and united, Diego Alonso’s side will hope to make the most of the fine form Victor Guzman and Jonathan Urretaviscaya have been showing in attack over the last few months.
*0: *Tuesday’s winners will advance to their first FIFA Club World Cup final. The Brazilians are tournament newcomers, while Los Tuzos are making their fourth appearance. Their highest finish to date was fourth in 2008.
“If we said we’re not thinking about Real Madrid, we’d be lying. But we’ve got our feet on the ground because we’ve still got to play the semi-final, and it’s a very tough and very important match. We’ve got to focus on our semi-final opponents and nothing else.”
Bruno Cortez, Gremio* *
“There’s a huge prize waiting for us. This is a game in which we can make history for CONCACAF football and do something no other Mexican team has ever done. I hope we can make the final because the fans and the players in particular deserve it.”
Diego Alonso, Pachuca