Gulf News' Ashley Hammond and N.D. Prashant are at the Zayed Sports City stadium in Abu Dhabi to bring us all the latest news on the Fifa Club World Cup
Real Madrid win Fifa Club World Cup final
Real Madrid became the first side to retain the Fifa Club World Cup with a 1-0 win over Brazil’s Gremio in Saturday’s final at Zayed Sports City.
Cristiano Ronaldo got the game’s only goal, putting the Spanish giants ahead through a free-kick just after the interval.
The victory confirmed Real’s sixth world title after two earlier Club World Cup wins, and three previous victories from when the tournament was known as the Intercontinental Cup.
It also marked the first time a Real Madrid side had ever won five titles in a calendar year.
This historic feat comes at an important time for Zinedine Zidane’s men. Real have endured their slowest start to a domestic season since 2008, and are third in La Liga, eight points off leaders Barcelona, heading into next week’s El Clasico.
The win will no doubt give Los Blancos confidence ahead of that season-defining contest, but Zidane will also hope they’ve still got something in the tank for their return to Spain.
In the best of Real’s first half chances, Dani Carvajal saw his goal bound effort cleared before the line by Pedro Geromel on 20 minutes. Geromel headed a corner clear only as far as Carvajal, who volleyed it back towards goal, but the Gremio captain was able to get a foot to it.
Ronaldo couldn’t get anything on the end of Casemiro’s header from the resulting corner.
And a long range free-kick from Edilson went just over for Gremio up the other end on the half hour.
Eight minutes later Benzema bobbled a pass through the defence to Ronaldo who, one-on-one with the keeper, then cut back in towards goal and was tackled by Walter Kannemann.
With five minutes of the first half remaining Ronaldo then hit a free-kick just over the bar, and Benzema failed to get a head on Modric’s cross, soon after.
Ronaldo finally broke the deadlock early in the second half with a curling free-kick on 53 minutes, which split between the wall and sneaked into the bottom left.
That strike saw him extend his all-time record Club World Cup most goals tally to seven, just a week after he equaled Lionel Messi’s record by winning his fifth Ballon D’Or.
The Portuguese had a second disallowed moments later, when Benzema, who nodded the ball back to set Ronaldo up for the effort, was ruled offside.
Gremio keeper Marcelo Grohe then tipped Modric’s long shot onto the post after the hour as Los Blancos went in search of more.
Bale came on for Benzema with 10 minutes remaining and almost had an immediate impact supplying Ronaldo for a shot saved by Grohe, and then having his own stab tipped over by the keeper just after.
Highlights from the game as it happened:
Ronaldo's bid for second goal foiled
Save! Gareth Bale is ripping the defence apart with his run here. He tries a brilliant dink, which is tipped over from Marcelo Grohe. It is Ronaldo giving charge. Almost stole his second one. Diving save by Grohe.
Real happy to keep lead
The Mexican wave is on, with the crowd trying to egg on the players. It has been a bit quiet for the moment. Real happy to keep the lead. The crowd roars as Gareth Bale takes the place of Karim Benzema. Bale needed just one tough to seal the win against Jazira in the semis.
Isco off, Vazquez in
Isco off and Lucas Vazquez comes in as we head into the final 20 minutes with Real Madrid edging closer to retaining retain their crown.
Possession: Real Madrid 66%, Gremio 34%
Gremio have just been forced to be on their defence here. Their fans will be hugely disappointed with what they have seen so far.
The absence of their star medio Aurthur is clearly showing. The 21-year-old was one of pioneers of the Brazilian championship with his teammate Luan; leading their club to Copa Libertadores Another change for Gremio as Everton comes on for Ramiro, the star of the last outing against Pachuca.
Barrios off, Jael on
Gremio makes their first change here. Jael comes on for the Brazilian outfit with less than 30 minutes to go. Barrios off, Jael on.
60min: Casemiro fires a long range effort on target but fisted away by the Gremio keeper.
Ronaldo scores a goal!
Goal!!! The stadium erupts! Real Madrid have the break through from none other than Ronaldo. Chants of ''Ronaldo'' reverberating in the stadium.
Who else could have scored that goal? CR7 kept his calm and a
super free kick from distance! Ball going through the wall. And then that trademark celebration...
Second half starts
After the absorbing first session, the boys are out again to give it another crack.
The would have be lot of pep talk in that break in the dressing room of both teams for sure.
Gremio was clearly under the pump and their fans would be hoping a much better performance from them in the second half.
Real on the other hand will be looking to get that break as soon as possible. Stay put for another scintillating second session.
Some stats here: Real Madrid dominated the first-half possession with 63 per cent while they managed 10 attempts but just one of them was on target.
Gremio, meanwhile, had just one attempt off target in the first 45 minutes.
Yellow card: Casemiro in the 27th minute.
Real vs Gremio half time 0-0
It's half time here at the jam packed Zayed Sports City Stadium. Gremio have soaked all the pressure from Real to go into the breather with a clean sheet.
Madrid clearly on top. Total dominance in the first half and hardly anything for Gremio. The Brazilians have still done well to hold on by the skin of their teeth.
Don't go away. Another engaging 45 minutes coming you way.
40th minute: Ronaldo is on the move. Just misses the crossbar with a dipping free-kick.
39min: Ronaldo make a fine run into the Gremio box, but Kannemann comes from nowhere to make a stunning challenge.
37min: Kroos tried to find Isco with a measured pass but Michel is equally up to it to make the clearance.
Relentless pressure on Gremio
Fans are at the edge of the third seats. Relentless pressure on Gremio. Some desperate defending going on. They somehow holding on....still 0-0 at the 30 minute mark.
First booking 27 minutes: Real Madrid's Casemiro for a foul on Gremio's Luan.
24 minutes: This one is close! Modric just misses the far post with a strike from the edge of the box.
22 minutes: Another half-chance for Real Madrid as Varane throws himself at a corner but fail to get enough contact.
20 minutes: Billiant defending from Germoel as he blocks an effort from Carvajal, which was very much goal bound - heading for the bottom corner.
Real Madrid pile on the pressure
Real are piling on the pressure here but yet to find the break-through after the first quarter. All over the Gremio territory...its a series of raids.
Gremio captain Predro Geromel has been really kept busy and is forced to be on the tail of Marcelo and Ronaldo. The atmosphere here at the stadium is electrifying and every Ronaldo touch is being cheered. Tremendous support for the Portuguese star.
Match kicks off
Well it is the big match. Spanish giants Real Madrid vs Brazilian powerhouse Gremio. The match kicks-off with a roooooooooar! Real are looking to create history here by becoming the first Club to defend their Club World Cup title.
Real Madrid vs Gremio
Real Madrid can make 2017 their most successful year ever if they beat Brazil’s Gremio in tonight’s Fifa Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City. Kick-off is at 9pm.
Having already won four titles in the La Liga, the Uefa Champions League, the Supercopa de Espana and the Uefa Super Cup, they can now make it an unprecedented five in a calendar year, and would also become the first side to retain the Club World Cup.
The historic feat would solidify coach Zinedine Zidane’s position after a slow start to the 2017/18 season, where Real are third in La Liga and eight points off leaders Barcelona ahead of next week’s El Clasico.
Defeat, however, would bring yet more pressure on the Frenchman, whose performance is under scrutiny despite winning seven titles since taking charge two years ago.
Should Gremio shock the reigning world and European champions, on the other hand, they would be the first Brazilian winners in five years and only the fifth in tournament history.
And an upset isn’t necessarily off the cards.
Real were almost embarrassed by UAE side Al Jazira in their 2-1 comeback win in Wednesday’s semi-final, while Gremio were taken to extra time by Pachuca of Mexico, before winning Tuesday’s other semi, 1-0.
Full time in third place play-off
Pachuca 4-1 Al Jazira
Khalfan Al Rezzi equalised for Al Jazira just before the hour to make it 1-1, but subsequent goals from Franco Jara, Roberto de la Rosa and Angelo Sagal put the contest beyond doubt for Pachuca.
Jonathan Urretavisacaya had opened the scoring for Pachuca before the break on 37 minutes after being put through by Jara.
Al Ressi pulled one back on 57 minutes for Al Jazira, drilling home his follow-up shot after Mbark Boussoufa’s effort had been cleared off the line by Emmanuel Garcia.
But then Jara buried Sagal’s cross on the hour. Substitute De la Rosa was thread through for a third on 79 minutes scoring with his first touch of the game. And Sagal made it 4-1 from the penalty spot on 84 minutes after a foul in the box from a cross.
This is Pachuca’s best ever finish in four appearances at the tournament having previously finished fourth in 2008.
Despite the loss tournament debutants Al Jazira have secured the best ever finish by a UAE club with fourth.
Goal: 4-1 Pachuca
Angelo Sagal converts pen after trip in box on 84 minutes. Earlier, Roberto de la Rosa scored a goal on 79 minutes while Jarra buried Sagal's cross on 60 minutes.
Winds of change coming?
Half-time in the third place play-off
Pachuca 1-0 Al Jazira
Pachuca opened the scoring on 37 minutes after Jonathan Urretavisacaya scored from a one-on-one with the keeper after being put through by Franco Jara. Up until that point Pachuca had seen Jara’s free-kick come back off the post after a deflection from the head of Saif Khalfan on 16 minutes.
Oscar Murillo headed over the follow up. Pachuca’s Angelo Sagal had also shot wide on the half hour, while Ali Mabkhout had his effort intercepted by Omar Gonzalez after being put into space by Romarinho two minutes later. This would be Pachuca's best ever finish at a Fifa Club World Cup. They previously finished fourth in 2008.
Excitement building up at Zayed Sports City stadium
Will it rain in tonight's final?
Rain for tonight's #ClubWC final between @realmadrid @Gremio? Looks like a storm is brewing... this is @Tuzos and @AlJazira_uae warming up for third place playoff pic.twitter.com/nvp1biXjtq— Gulf News Sport (@GulfNewsSport) December 16, 2017
Gremio's third Fifa World Club Final
This will be @Gremio's 3rd world club final they won in 1983 lost 1995 when it was known as the intercontinental cup #ClubWC pic.twitter.com/H8gbzBjWuM— Gulf News Sport (@GulfNewsSport) December 16, 2017
The winners of these two titles compete for this Zayed Sports City trophy
Fans trickle into Zayed Sports City
The atmosphere is building up outside Zayed Sports City for tonight’s Fifa Club World Cup final between champions of Europe Real Madrid and South American champions Gremio. Kick-off is at 9pm but already fans are trickling in for this moment of history.
Pride, €22 million, a golden badge on their shirt and the chance to crowned club world champions awaits the winner, but there’s also this at stake for both sides:
If Real Madrid wins
They would be the first side to retain the Fifa Club World Cup.
It would be the first time Real Madrid have won five titles inside a calendar year.
They would equal Barcelona’s record of most Fifa Club World Cup wins with three.
German midfielder Toni Kroos would become the player with the most Fifa Club World Cup wins on four, one with Bayern and what would be three with Real.
It would be the 12th consecutive final Real have been to and won. They last lost a final 17 years ago against Boca Juniors in the 2000 Intercontinental Cup.
If Ronaldo scores in the final he would be extending his Fifa Club World Cup most goals record, which already stands at six after Wednesday’s equaliser against Al Jazira in the semi-final.
Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos would both be looking out for the tournament’s best player gong to match Lionel Messi’s record of most wins in that award with two.
It would be the fifth consecutive win for a European side, and the 10th in tournament history.
If Gremio wins
It would be their first Fifa Club World Cup win.
But their second if you include the previously named Intercontinental Cup, which they won 34 years ago in 1983.
Having just become the first Brazilian to win the Copa Libertadores as both a player and a coach, both with Gremio in 1983 and 2017, Renato Portaluppi would also become the first Brazilian to win the Intercontinental Cup/Club World Cup as both a player and a coach.
It would be the first time in five years, and only the fifth time in tournament history, that a Brazilian side wins.