Magnificent seven poised for UAE 2017
UAE 2017 is the 14th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup
Al Jazira, Wydad Athletic and Gremio are all making their tournament debuts
Can Real Madrid become the first side to retain the trophy?
The 14th FIFA Club World Cup kicks off on Wednesday 6 December in the city of Al-Ain, in the United Arab Emirates. Though defending champions Real Madrid are the team to beat, the other six contenders will all be out to knock the Spanish giants off their perch.
Madrid return to the competition with largely the same squad as last year, while Gremio of Brazil are making their Club World Cup debut as newly crowned Copa Libertadores champions. The third Latin side in the competition are Mexico’s CF Pachuca, who return after a seven-year absence.
New Zealand’s Auckland City will look to draw on the experience they have gained from their eight previous appearances, while Urawa Red Diamonds have the task of continuing the excellent run of results enjoyed by Japanese clubs in the competition. Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club and host club Al Jazira will hope to become the latest African and Asian sides to reach the final on their debuts.
FIFA.com marks your card ahead of the competition.
UAE 2017 Dates: 6-16 December 2017 Participants: Al Jazira, Auckland City, CF Pachuca, Gremio, Real Madrid, Urawa Red Diamonds and Wydad Athletic Club. Format: eight matches in total: one first-round tie, two second-round ties, the match for fifth place, two semi-finals, the match for third place and the final. History: this, the 14th edition of the tournament, is the third to be held in the UAE. The inaugural Club World Cup was Brazil 2000 and the most recent one Japan 2016.
Three things to watch at UAE 2017 1. Champions’ experience makes them favourites. Holders Real Madrid are aiming to become the first club in the history of the competition to win it twice in a row. Should they achieve that feat on 16 December in Abu Dhabi, they will join Barcelona as the most successful side in the history of the tournament with three wins.
Big task awaits Gremio and Pachuca. Corinthians (2000 and 2012), Sao Paulo (2005) and SC Internacional (2006) are the only non-European sides to have lifted the trophy. O Tricolor and Los Tuzos arrive in the UAE buoyed by their recent triumphs in Latin America’s most prestigious club competitions.** **
Faces old and new. Urawa Red Diamonds and Auckland City (third at Japan 2007 and Morocco 2014 respectively) both know how to spring a surprise or two, while Wydad Athletic and Al Jazira will be hoping to follow the example of Kashima Antlers, who marked their debut a year ago by reaching the final.
We spoke to… Mbark Boussoufa (Al Jazira Club) Dan Morgan (Auckland City) Diego Alonso (CF Pachuca) Renato Gaucho (Gremio) Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid) Yuki Abe (Urawa Red Diamonds) Lhoussaine Ammouta (Wydad Athletic Club)