Bayern Munich aren’t taking any chances at the Fifa Club World Cup. The fiercely competitive team didn’t become Germany’s most successful club of all time without reason — and now they’re gunning to become world champions for the fourth time, as they head to Qatar for the 17th edition of the Fifa Club World Cup.
If Bayern manage to win this, they will make history. It would be the team’s sixth trophy in 12 months, which equals a record set by Barcelona in 2009. No other team in history has achieved this feat.
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As such, the current European champions have named Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski, and Thomas Muller as part of their squad. Javi Martinez, Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Douglas Costa and Jerome Boateng have also been named.
Bayern are clearly looking to add the Club World Cup victory to their recent trophies from the Bundesliga, DFB Cup, Uefa Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and DFL Supercup.
Bayern Munich have played in the Fifa Club World Cup twice. They won once in 2013. Now, Neuer, Boateng, Müller, Martinez and David Alaba will all try their hand at becoming two-time club world champions.
Currently, Bayern are seventh on the table of all-time Club World Cup standings.
They are lagging behind Real Madrid, who have the most wins in the tournament at four, and Barcelona, who have three wins. Even Manchester United and Liverpool have clocked in more points in the Club World Cup than Bayern have.
This could be Bayern’s fourth international trophy in their 120-year history. They previously won the Intercontinental Cup twice in 1976 and 2001.
Even though Bayern are favourites to win, nothing is guaranteed, as they go up against five other teams hungry for the crown…
2020 Club World Cup Title: Meet the teams
Al Ahly (EGY)
African champions Al Ahly have their eye on the prize as they enter into their sixth appearance at the competition. Al Ahly have only managed to get to third place in the competition in 2006 and are looking to reach new heights. How will they do it? With their secret weapon, goalkeeper Mohamed Al Shenawy, who helped the team cinch their latest CAF Champions League win after conceding only five goals.
But the Egypt international and team captain knows that their first match on February 4 will come with a huge challenge. “We’ve got Al Duhail first up, which will be a special game because they’re an Arab team playing at home [in Qatar] and in front of their own fans,” he said.
“We’re expecting a tough match … We’ve watched their last few games in the Qatari league and we know it’s going to be a big battle.” Whoever wins will face off against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals on Monday (February 8).
Al Duhail (QAT)
This is an extra special moment for Qatari side Al Duhail SC, who represent the host nation. Kenyan international Michael Olunga doesn’t underestimate the power of the home advantage his team will have, as they go head to head with Al Ahly SC on Thursday (February 4).
“It is not a friendly game that we will be playing,” Olunga told beIn Sports. “Al Ahly are the African champions and they are strong — of course we respect them but we do not fear them ... We will be playing at home, we will have our fans and it is going to be a good and balanced game.
"It is every player’s dream to be at the semi-final of Fifa Club World Cup. Beating Al Ahly and facing Bayern Munich is a dream for everyone in our dressing room,” Olunga said.
Meanwhile, Al Duhail coach Sabri Lamouchi had this to say: “I just want to tell the Duhail’s fans that we are proud and it is a great honour for us to represent Qatar in this competition and we will do everything we can to honour Qatari football and delight the Al Duhail fans.”
Bayern Munich (GER)
Bayern Munich will be looking to become the eighth consecutive European team to lift the Club World Cup trophy. It would be a full-circle moment for the German club, who started this winning streak themselves when they cinched the title in 2013 in Morocco.
Coach Hansi Flick, who’s been having a mighty good season so far, said a win would be the “icing on the cake”.
“It’s always the case at Bayern Munich that you want to have the most successful season possible and after the treble, you’re obviously looking at the FIFA Club World Cup,” said Flick.
Bayern Munich are the favourite to win this year. They will have to defeat either Egypt club Al Ahly or Qatari squad Al Duhail in order to play in the final match on February 11.
It was down to the wire for Palmeiras, who secured their spot at the Club World Cup only days before kick off (January 30). The Brazilians edged Santos out in the Copa Libertadores 2020 final with an incredible 99th minute stoppage-time goal, headed in by Breno Lopes, to achieve a 1-0 result.
It’s the kind of fight-til-the-end mentality that makes football so breathtaking to watch. And it’s the attitude that could help the South American team snag a trophy from Bayern Munich’s reach.
But, it will not be an easy competition for Palmeiras, as this was their first title victory since 1999.
They will have to beat either Mexico’s Tigres or South Korea’s Ulsan Hundai in the semi-finals on Sunday (February 7) if they want to make it to the finish line.
Mexican club Tigres will play the kick-off match of the competition against Ulsan Hyundai on Thursday (February 4), with on-again-off-again coach Ricardo Ferretti at the helm.
Though Ferretti failed to achieve results with the Tigres in 2000-2003 — and again in 2006 — he has helped them win nine trophies since rejoining 2010 — including five Liga MX victories. They also won the Concacaf Champions League in 2019 after a decade of losses.
“We’ll be taking on every team we face, from the first to the last, with the right attitude and without underestimating anyone. Things will get tougher as the tournament goes on, but we’ll maintain that respectful approach, without being scared of anyone,” said Ferretti about the competition at hand.
“The strength of my team lies in the balance between attack and defence. We’ve got some very experienced players, who have a lot of mental and technical ability. Just when it looks like there’s a problem on the pitch that can’t be solved, they go and solve it.”
Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)
Ulsan Hyundai FC will be feeling a lick of deja vu. The South Korean team were in Qatar in December 2020, where they won the AFC Champions League title. A month later, they’re already back in Doha to vie for another trophy. They face off against Tigres UANL on Thursday (February 4).
“The players are pleased to be back in Qatar for the Fifa Club World Cup and are looking forward to training ahead of our match against Tigres,” said head coach Hong Myung-bo.
“We are excited to take part in this global event and test ourselves against some of the best sides in the world. This is also a golden opportunity for the team to prepare for the K League season, which will kick off soon.”
The K League 1 season kicks off on February 27.
2020 Club World Cup: New Zealand out due to Covid-19
Last minute changes were inevitable.
The Club World Cup typically has seven teams competing for the title. But they’re down to six this year, after New Zealand team Auckland FC pulled out.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and related quarantine measures required by the New Zealand authorities, the club will be unable to participate in the FIFA Club World Cup 2020,” read a statement on the Fifa website.
“Despite FIFA’s regular exchanges with the club, New Zealand Football and the OFC in recent days, the requirements of the New Zealand authorities in relation to isolation and quarantine go beyond FIFA’s remit and, therefore, it was not possible to reach a solution.
“FIFA together with the Qatari authorities, will implement a comprehensive medical and security protocol providing the safeguards required to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in the competition.”
The Fifa Club World Cup was delayed by two months due to the pandemic.
Fifa Club World Cup: History of the Club World Cup
The first edition of the Fifa Club World Cup — then called the Fifa Club World Championship — took place in Brazil in 2000. The winners, Corinthians, and runners-up, Vasco de Gama, both represented Brazil.
Mexico’s Necaxa came in third while Real Madrid came in fourth.
Back then, the Club World Championship existed alongside the Intercontinental Cup, which ran from 2000-2004, and pitted the winners of the Uefa Champions League and the Copa Libertadores against each other.
Fifa recognised the winners of both the Club World Championship and the Intercontinental Cup as world champions.
However, in 2006, both tournaments merged under a new name: The Fifa Club World Cup.
The defending champions: Who won last year?
The current defending champions of the Club World Cup are Liverpool, who won their first title at the 2019 edition, also in Qatar. The next Club World Cup tournament is set to take place in Japan next year.
Fifa Club World Cup: Format of the tournament
The Club World Cup features seven teams who compete in a straight knock-out tournament, over approximately two weeks, in one host nation.
The teams are the winners of that year’s: AFC Champions League (Asia), CAF Champions League (Africa), CONCACAF Champions League (North America), Copa Libertadores (South America), OFC Champions League (Oceania) and UEFA Champions League (Europe), as well as the host nation’s champions.
Fifa Club World Cup: UAE connection
The Club World Cup was held right here in the UAE on several occasions. The first two times happened consecutively in 2009 and 2010; Barcelona won in the first UAE edition of the tournament, while Inter Milan won the following year.
The championship returned to the UAE in 2017 and 2018. Both times, Real Madrid were crowned champions. However, the UAE managed to make their mark both times. In 2017, Al Jazira came in fourth place, while in 2018, Al Ain finished in second place after battling it out with Real Madrid in the final.
Fifa Club World Cup: Biggest moments so far
Ceni scores goalkeeper first (2005)
Step aside, Neuer. We have another trigger happy goalkeeper in our midsts. In 2005, Rogerio Ceni became the first goal keeper to score in the Cup World Cup when he netted a penalty for Sao Paolo in the semi-final against Saudi side Al-Ittihad, contributing to the ultimate winning score of 3-2.
But it doesn’t stop there. Sao Paolo were then to face Liverpool in the final, where they ultimately thumped the Reds in a shock 3-0 win.
Ceni was a key figure that match, helping Sao Paolo keep a clean sheet and secure a clean win against the English side, who had been favoured to win.
Pedro makes history (2009)
Roma forward Pedro had one of the first shining moments of his career in 2009, when he helped rescue Barcelona in the Club World Cup final against Estudiantes. Barca was one down at half time, and Pedro revived their chances of victory at the 89th minute with an equaliser.
Messi then cinched the team’s 2-1 victory in overtime with a 110th minute goal. What’s more, Pedro made history as the first player to score in six different club competitions in one season.
First African club in the final (2010)
TP Mazembe became the first African side to reach the final. They were beaten by Inter Milan, but made a memorable impression as they beat Pachuca and Inter Milan to get to their runners-up spot.
Robert Kidiaba was perhaps the most memorable player that year — the goalkeeper celebrated each of his team’s goals with a shimmy of the backside.
Neymar vs Messi (2011)
The 2011 Club World Cup was overshadowed by the meeting of two footballing giants. The final match was between Barcelona and Santos — but all headlines reduced the event to a showdown between Messi and Neymar, who was only 19 years old at the time.
Barcelona ultimately beat Santos 4-0, and Messi beat Neymar by scoring two of those goals. Messi was named man of the match and player of the tournament.
Ronaldo’s Real Madrid hat-trick stuns Kashima Antlers (2016)
Can Ronaldo take two steps without setting a world record? Hard to tell. The Portuguese player became the first to accomplish a hat trick in the Club World Cup in 2016, stunning Japan’s Kashima Antlers with his triple feat.
It was a close call for Real Madrid that year — Kashima equalised an early goal by Karim Benzema, but it was Ronaldo’s first goal, a penalty, which drove the game into overtiem and gave the No 7 enough time to score two more.
Real score second hat-trick against Kashima in UAE (2018)
Interestingly, history seemed to repeat itself the next time Real Madrid met Kashima Antlers in 2018, right here in the UAE.
In the the semi-final match, Gareth Bale managed to single-handedly guide his Spanish side to the finals, as he scored a hat-trick of his own, resulting in a 3-1 win.