- FIFA Club World Cup kick-off is edging closer
- Second global finals of the year after Russia 2018
- A number of Russia 2018 stars will be in action at UAE 2018
The FIFA Club World Cup kick-off is just days away, where seven sides will compete for the right to be crowned the world’s best. Plenty of names who graced Russia 2018 will once again be turning out on the global stage, this time with their clubs.
While holders Real Madrid naturally boast a plethora of international stars — from Marcelo and Luka Modric to Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos to name but a few – Los Blancos are not the only team going to UAE with Russia 2018 players at their disposal. FIFA.com takes a look at just some of the players who will be making their second foray onto the global stage this year, just five months on from the FIFA World Cup™.
Anice Badri demonstrated his versatility at Russia 2018 by playing in the centre of the park in the Eagles of Carthage’s opener against England while operating in a forward role against Belgium and Panama.
Along with team-mate Ghaylen Chaaleli, Badri will be able to pass on invaluable experience and the lessons learned from playing on the global stage in Russia to his Esperance team-mates ahead of UAE 2018. “Like most of my team-mates, if not all of them, I’ve never played in the competition before,” Badri said of the Club World Cup.
Club: Al Ain
Marcus Berg was part of the Sweden side that recorded their best World Cup finish in 24 years, starting in all five of Blagult’s games. Although the striker did not find the net at Russia 2018, his eight in qualifying were instrumental in helping Janne Andersson’s side to the global finals, finishing the preliminaries as his country’s top goalscorer.
A powerful frontman, Berg will be keen to show his goalscoring prowess at the FIFA Club World Cup with host club Al Ain, who kick off the competition against debutants and OFC Champions League winners Team Wellington on 12 December. “I have definitely learned a lot from playing in different countries and in different styles of football, and I feel very happy now with Al Ain,” Berg told FIFA.com last year.
Club: Real Madrid
The adidas Golden Ball winner at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 and seven months later the adidas Golden Ball winner at Russia 2018, can Luka Modric claim the player of the tournament award once again at UAE 2018? Croatia owed their place in the World Cup Final in large part to their gifted No10, who covered an astonishing 72.3 kilometres over seven games in Russia while making a total of 523 passes.
Modric, who was named The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2018, is aiming to win his fourth Club World Cup with Real. “I am very satisfied with what I did with my club, my country and, of course, to have won individual awards like The Best and the award for the best player at the World Cup.”
Club: River Plate
Enzo Perez played on the right side of midfield for Estudiantes in the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup final when the Argentinian side were defeated by a Lionel Messi extra-time winner. Perez returns to the tournament, this time with River Plate.
While on the bench in Argentina’s opener against Iceland, the 32-year-old started in his country’s other three World Cup games before La Albiceleste bowed out at the hands of France in the Round-of-16 thriller. Perez will be joined in UAE by fellow Russia 2018 veterans Franco Armani (Argentina) and Juan Fernando Quintero (Colombia) as Los Millonarios hope to go one step further than they did in 2015 and win the Club World Cup.
Club: Kashima Antlers
Gen Shoji is no stranger to the Club World Cup. The defender was ever-present at the back as Kashima defied all expectations by taking Real Madrid to extra-time in the 2016 final. Then champions of Japan, Shoji and Antlers now return to the tournament as kings of Asia.
Shoji started three Russia 2018 games as Japan bowed out at the Round of 16 against Belgium. A one-club player, the centre-back will be integral to Kashima’s chances in UAE. "Joining Kashima was a turning point of my playing career,” said Shoji. “I wouldn't have become what I am now had I not joined the club.” Shoji anchors the Kashima defence alongside Jung Seunghyun, who was part of the Korea Republic squad in Russia.
Club: Real Madrid
What a year 2018 has been for Raphael Varane. Champions League success with Real Madrid in Kiev was followed by global glory with France in Moscow, becoming only the 11th player to win the World Cup and Champions League in the same season.
A rock at the back, Varane also proved in Russia that he can score important goals with his opening header against Uruguay in the quarter-finals. The centre-back is now aiming to win his second global title of the calendar year at UAE 2018, which would be the icing on the cake of a memorable year.