Fifa Club World Cup: Barcelona and Real Madrid feature in five best matches from past UAE tournaments
This year's tournament begins on December 12 when hosts Al Ain take on Team Wellington in the play-off
The UAE is set to host the Fifa Club World Cup for a fourth time this month having welcomed the various champions of continental club football in 2009, 2010 and last year.
Ahead of the December 12-22 tournament, John McAuley takes a trip down memory lane and picks his five best matches from previous Club World Cups held in the Emirates.
Barcelona 2-1 Estudiantes (December 19 2009)
Barcelona were history-makers in Abu Dhabi, but boy had they to scrap for it. Seeking to become the first team to secure six trophies in a calendar year, Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side were moments from watching that quest disappear into the night at Zayed Sports City. One-nil down to Mauro Boselli’s first-half strike, Barcelona threw everything at their Argentine rivals but looked doomed to fail. However, Pedro came off the bench to rescue his team, converting Gerard Pique’s flick-on in the final minute to force extra-time and send the majority of the 43,000-plus crowd wild. Then, in the 110th minute, Lionel Messi chested home a Dani Alves cross to clinch the victory. Cue bedlam.
When Barcelona triumphed and Messi starred: A look back to Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2009
TP Mazembe 2-0 Internacional (December 14, 2010)
Inter Milan were the star attraction in Abu Dhabi, but TP Mazembe stole their share of the headlines. The African champions had suffered defeat in their only other Club World Cup matches – twice, the previous year - but shocked everyone by upsetting Brazil’s Internacional in the semi-final at Zayed Sports City. Mulota Kabangu and Dioko Kaluyituka scored second-half goals to give Mazembe a famous victory, still considered one of the greatest surprises in tournament history. In defeating Internacional, the DR Congo side became the first team from outside Europe or South America to reach the final. The showpiece proved a step too far when they lost convincingly to Inter. But what a run.
One week to go for Club World Cup: Lowdown on Fifa tournament being hosted by UAE
Inter Milan 3-0 TP Mazembe (December 18, 2010)
Inter came into the tournament under heavy pressure. Not only were the Italian champions favourites for the title in Abu Dhabi, but they had slipped to nine points behind AC Milan in Serie A and had recently finished second to Tottenham Hotspur in their Uefa Champions League group. Manager Rafael Benitez was feeling the strain, with the Spaniard forced pre-tournament to defend his position. In the final, loud jeers initially greeted his image on the big screen at Zayed Sports City. Yet his side gave Benitez what appeared the perfect fillip, with Goran Pandev, Samuel Eto’o and Jonathan Biabiany getting the goals to land Inter a first Club World Cup crown. It didn’t help Benitez, though: he was sacked five days later.
When Inter Milan and Eto'o ruled the world: A look back to Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2010
Al Jazira 1-0 Urawa Red Diamonds (December 9, 2017)
As hosts, the UAE champions did their country proud. Jazira had laboured somewhat to victory in the play-off against Auckland City only days previously, progressing to the quarter-final by a solitary goal, but they were much-improved against the Asian champions at Zayed Sports City. Star striker Ali Mabkhout was the match-winner, the UAE forward grabbing the game’s only goal seven minutes into the second half after Romarinho had played him through. Mabkhout coolly slotted the ball through the onrushing Shusaku Nishikawa’s legs. Jazira held on to seal a place in the last four and set up a marquee meeting with defending champions Real Madrid. It was an extra special night for manager Henk ten Cate, who was celebrating his birthday. Jazira had delivered the perfect present.
Real Madrid 2-1 Al Jazira (16 December 2017)
Oh, how the dream nearly came true. Having battled their way to the semi-final, Jazira almost pulled off one of the greatest shocks in tournament history. Madrid were successive Uefa Champions League winners and aiming for a third Club World Cup crown on the bounce. But Jazira gave them a mighty scare, with goalkeeper Ali Kasheif inspired and Romarinho putting them 1-0 up just before half-time at a packed Zayed Sports City Stadium. Only VAR prevented them from doubling their lead not long after the break, when Mbark Boussoufa’s goal was disallowed for a marginal offside. Then Madrid turned around the match. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, no less. But, still, what a night for Jazira.
Reviewing Club World Cup 2017: Real Madrid win title but Al Jazira do UAE and Abu Dhabi proud
Updated: December 9, 2018 02:43 PM