The 12th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup is going to take place in Japan from the 10th of December to the 20th of December. This event is organized by FIFA and hosts the champions of league clubs in their respective continental federations. The only exception is the wild card entry of the national club champion from the host country.
The competition’s history all started from Brazil in the new millennium year of 2000. The current tournament could have been the 13th episode of the annual Cup series, but the 2nd FIFA Club World Cup that was scheduled to be hosted in Spain in 2001 had to be cancelled due to multiple issues, the most significant being the collapse of ISL, FIFA’s leading marketing partner.
On the contrary, the stage, or stages as it should be said because there are two venues for this event, look set to host the seven continental champions in what is expected to make for some thrilling encounters.
The seven teams participating in this event are (in alphabetical order):
• Auckland City
• Guangzhou Evergrande
• River Plate
• Sanfrecce Hiroshima
• TP Mazembe
América: The club is based in Mexico City, Mexico and won the CONCACAF Champions League 2014-15 by beating Montreal Impact 5-3 that qualified them to compete in this year’s FIFA Club World Cup. This is the second time the club is participating in the tournament, having previously played in 2006.
Auckland City: The club is based in Auckland, New Zealand and won the OFC Champions League 2014-15 by beating Team Wellington 4-3 on penalties. The win automatically qualified them for the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. This is the seventh time the club is participating in the tournament, having previously played in 2006, 2009, and consecutively in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Barcelona: The club is based in Barcelona, Spain and won the UEFA Champions League 2014-15 by beating Juventus 3-1.
The win gave them direct qualification for the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. This is the fourth time the club is participating in the tournament, having previously played in 2006, 2009, and 2011. Barcelona is the only team participating this year that has already won the FIFA Club World Cup twice, once in 2009 (beating Estudiantes 2-1 in extra time) and again in 2011 (beating Santos 4-0 in regulation time).
Guangzhou Evergrande: The club is based in Guangzhou, China and won the AFC Champions League 2014-15 by beating Al-Ahli 1-0. The win qualified them for the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. This is the second time the club is participating in the tournament, having previously played in 2013.
River Plate: The club is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina and won the 2015 Copa Libertadores by beating UANL 3-0, which gave them straight entry in to the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. It is a surprising fact that River Plate is actually participating in the FIFA Club World Cup for the very first time since they have produced players like Falcao, Demichellis, Di Stefano, Crespo, and Cambiasso just to name a few.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima: The club is based in Hiroshima, Japan and won the J1 League 2015 edition by accumulating 74 points in 34 matches played. Since the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup is going to be held in Japan, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, the Japanese top league winner, automatically qualified for the Club World Cup without the need to win the AFC Champions League. This is the second time the club is participating in the tournament, having previously played in 2012.
TP Mazembe: The club is based in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and won the CAF Champions League 2014-15 by beating USM Alger 4-1. The win gave them direct qualification for the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. This is the third time the club is participating in the tournament, having previously played in 2009 and 2010.
The two venues selected for the 12th FIFA Club World Cup are:
• Nagai Stadium, Osaka (Capacity: 47,816)
• International Stadium, Yokohama (Capacity: 72,327)
Both stadiums have hosted many important international matches including the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals and many editions of FIFA Club World Cup.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima will play Auckland City in the play-off on the 10th of December. The winner will play TP Mazembe in the first quarter-final on the 13th of December. The second quarter-final will also be played on the same day between América and Guangzhou Evergrande. The winner of the TP Mazembe quarter-final will play River Plate in the first semi-final on the 16th of December. The winner of the América and Guangzhou Evergrande quarter-final match will play Barcelona in the second semi-final on the 17th of December. The final will be played on the 20th of December in Yokohama’s International Stadium between the winners of the two semi-finals. The losing teams from both the semi-finals will play against each other to bag third place.
For the Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs. Auckland City match, the odds are surprisingly one-sided for the Japanese team (win: -250, draw: +375, lose: +600). The stats also show that the final score may well be 1-0 with the Japanese team scoring in the first half and maintaining a clean sheet. In their only head-to-head match, Sanfrecce Hiroshima defeated the Kiwi team.
For the América vs. Guangzhou Evergrande match, the odds do not favour a winner outright (América win: +170, draw: +225, Guangzhou Evergrande win: +160). It is expected to be a close fight but with Guangzhou Evergrande on a tear of late, expect them to get the best of América in this match.
Every eye will be on Lionel Messi who has recently found his form again. Will he be able to claim his fifth FIFA Ballon D’or? The odds definitely do favour him courtesy of British online bookmaker bet365.
As for the FIFA Club World Cup, Barcelona has been regarded as the favourite to win it all this year. Are they unstoppable? One thing is certain and that is anything is possible in this end-of-the-year tournament especially with Guangzhou Evergrande in the mix headed by the experienced Brazilian World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Get ready as the greatest clubs in the land get together to battle it out directly for surpremecy on the pitch!