Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Gremio join Real Madrid and Al Jazira in UAE: Complete Fifa Club World Cup team-by-team guide

John McAuley provides all the information you need on the clubs taking part in this year's tournament

Real Madrid will head to Abu Dhabi to defend their Fifa Club World Cup title after becoming the first team in the Uefa Champions League era to defend the trophy. AFP
Real Madrid will head to Abu Dhabi to defend their Fifa Club World Cup title after becoming the first team in the Uefa Champions League era to defend the trophy. AFP

HOSTS: AL JAZIRA (UAE)

Founded: 1974

National titles: 2

Club World Cup apps: 0

As defending champions of the Arabian Gulf League, Al Jazira are the host representatives at the Fifa Club World Cup. Courtesy Aletihad
As defending champions of the Arabian Gulf League, Al Jazira are the host representatives at the Fifa Club World Cup. Courtesy Aletihad

How they got here: Al Jazira qualified for the tournament by winning the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League title – only the second UAE championship in their history and a first in six years. The capital club, seeking to break the division’s Al Ahli-Al Ain duopoly, sealed the trophy with two rounds to spare and eventually broke several professional-era records, including most wins in a season (22) and most points accrued (68). As hosts of the Club World Cup, they will follow in the footsteps of compatriots Al Ahli (2009) and Al Wahda (2010).

Manager: Henk ten Cate – the experienced Dutchman has turned around a flagging club by instilling newfound belief. A former assistant coach at Chelsea and Barcelona, he also led Jazira to the 2016 President’s Cup crown.

Key players: Ali Mabkhout, Ahmed Khalil, Mbark Boussoufa, Ali Khaseif, Mohammed Jamal.

Star stat: 33 - the number of goals scored by UAE striker Ali Mabkhout during the 2016/17 AGL season. It set a new professional-era record.

*If a team from the UAE wins the Asian Champions League, the Asian Champions League’s runners-up will be invited in place of Al Jazira.

CONCACAF: PACHUCA (MEXICO)

Founded: 1901

National titles: 6

Club World Cup apps: 3

Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda will be part of the Pachuca team taking part at the Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2017. Guillermo Arias / AFP
Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda will be part of the Pachuca team taking part at the Fifa Club World Cup UAE 2017. Guillermo Arias / AFP

How they got here: Club de Futbol Pachuca, the oldest team in the Mexican top flight, were the first side to qualify for the tournament, clinching a spot by defeating national rivals Tigres in the final of the 2016/17 Concacaf Champions League. Pachuca won the showpiece 2-1 on aggregate following a 1-1 first-leg draw at Tigres, and concluded the competition unbeaten at home. Argentine forward Franco Jara scored the final’s decisive goal. Nicknamed “Los Tuzos” (The Gophers), Pachuca are contesting the Club World Cup for the fourth time having previously competed in 2007, 2008 and 2010 – their most recent appearance coming in Abu Dhabi seven years ago.

Manager: Diego Alonso – the Uruguayan has built an incredibly solid side who are both miserly in defence and prolific in attack. The former international striker has blended a well-balanced team with experienced heads and talented youngsters.

Key players: Oscar Murillo, Erick Gutierrez, Jonathan Urretaviscaya, Keisuke Honda, Franco Jara.

Star stat: 1 – the number of defeats suffered by Pachuca en route to their fourth Concacaf title. It came in the semi-final first leg at FC Dallas.

UEFA: REAL MADRID (SPAIN)

Founded: 1902

National titles: 33

Club World Cup apps: 3

Real Madrid head to Abu Dhabi as the reigning European and world champions. Denis Doyle / Getty Images
Real Madrid head to Abu Dhabi as the reigning European and world champions. Denis Doyle / Getty Images

How they got here: The current Club World Cup champions, Real Madrid ensured they are back to defend their title by winning the Uefa Champions League for the second successive time. The Spanish giants defeated Juventus in the final at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on June 3, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 4-1 victory. Casemiro and Marco Asensio got the other goals. Madrid became the first side to successfully defend the European Cup since AC Milan in 1990, and are the first to do so in the Champions League era. They have won the Club World Cup twice, one short of Barcelona’s record three triumphs.

Manager: Zinedine Zidane – one of the finest footballers in history, the 1998 World Cup winner has transferred that success to management. Won seven trophies in his first 17 months in the Madrid dugout.

Key players: Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Star stat: 105 – the number of goals Cristiano Ronaldo had scored in the Champions League after his double in the final. He had already become the first player to break the 100 mark in the European Cup.

OFC: AUCKLAND CITY (NEW ZEALAND)

Founded: 2004

National titles: 6

Club World Cup apps: 7

Auckland City have appeared at the Club World Cup on many occasions. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images
Auckland City have appeared at the Club World Cup on many occasions. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

How they got here: Auckland City qualified for the tournament by winning the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League, when they recorded a resounding victory in the final against compatriots Team Wellington across two legs. Having won 3-0 at home in the initial meeting, Auckland then triumphed 2-0 away for an overall 5-0 win. It was the third successive year the two sides had met in the showpiece. Auckland’s ninth Club World Cup appearance is a record, with the club competing in 2006 and 2009 and then every year from 2011. This marks their second appearance in Abu Dhabi – they defeated hosts Al Ahli in 2009 before losing the quarter-final to Mexico’s Atlante.

Manager: Ramon Tribulietx – the Spaniard has placed emphasis on retaining the core of the squad from their six-year run at the Club World Cup. However, he has integrated a number of gifted compatriots, too.

Key players: Emiliano Tade, Joao Moreira, Micah Lea’alafa, Ryan De Vries, Enaut Zubikarai.

Star stat: 1 – the number of goals conceded in seven matches in the OFC Champions League. It arrived in the first group match, away to Solomon Islands side Western United.

CAF: WYDAD CASABLANCA (MOROCCO)

Founded: 1937

National titles: 14

Club World Cup apps: 0

Wydad Casablanca's players become the fifth of the seven teams scheduled to compete at the Club World Cup. Fadel Senna / AFP
Wydad Casablanca's players become the fifth of the seven teams scheduled to compete at the Club World Cup. Fadel Senna / AFP

How they got here: Wydad Casablanca became the fifth team to book their place at the tournament by winning the African Champions League for the first time in 25 years. Having held eight-time continental champions Al Ahly to a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Egypt, Wydad triumphed 1-0 the following week in Morocco. Walid El Karti scored the decisive goal as Wydad finished the tournament with a 100 per cent home record. They have never before competed in the Fifa Club World Cup, but will hope to emulate crosstown rivals Raja Casablanca, who reached the final on home soil in 2013 before losing to Bayern Munich.

Manager: Houcine Ammouta – a former midfielder, the Moroccan knows the Middle East well having played in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. He represented Sharjah from 2001-2003. His team are known for their defensive quality.

Key players: Brahim Nekkach, Salaheddine Saidi, Ismail Haddad, Walid El Karti, Ashraf Bencharki.

Star stat: 6 – the number of clean sheets Wydad kept from seven home matches in this year’s Champions League. They conceded only once, in the semi-final against USM Alger.

AFC: URAWA RED DIAMONDS (JAPAN)

Founded: 1950

National titles: 4

Club World Cup apps: 1

Urawa Red Diamonds marched to the Asian Champions League title in Nove,ber to book their place in Abu Dhabi. Etsuo Hara / Getty Images
Urawa Red Diamonds marched to the Asian Champions League title in Nove,ber to book their place in Abu Dhabi. Etsuo Hara / Getty Images

How they got here: After continental success in 2007, Urawa ended a decade of disappointment in November by sealing a second Asian Champions League crown. The Japanese side had finished top of their group under manager Mihailo Petrovic, but the Serbian left mid-season. Takafumi Hori replaced him in the dugout. Urawa remained undefeated through the knockout stages, concluding the campaign by defeating Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the final, 2-1 on aggregate. Rafael Silva notched in the first-leg draw in Riyadh before scoring the only goal of the return match to guarantee Urawa the trophy. They have contested the Club World Cup once before, finishing third in 2007.

Manager: Takafumi Hori – A former midfielder, he represented Urawa for six years from 1992. Managed the club briefly in 2011, before returning midway through this season. Has built a solid side who ally that with real attacking intent.

Key players: Shusaku Nishikawa, Kazuki Nagasawa, Yuki Abe, Yosuke Kashiwagi, Rafael Silva.

Star stat: 30 the number of goals Urawa scored en route to the 2017 Asian Champions League title – more than any other side. Rafael Silva got nine, second only to Hilal’s Omar Khribin.

CONMEBOL: GREMIO (BRAZIL)

Founded: 1903

National titles: 2

Club World Cup apps: 0

Gremio took the Copa Libertadores on an open bus parade ahead of their trip to the UAE for the Fifa Club World Cup. Itamar Aguiar / AFP
Gremio took the Copa Libertadores on an open bus parade ahead of their trip to the UAE for the Fifa Club World Cup. Itamar Aguiar / AFP

How they got here: The last team to confirm their spot at the tournament, Gremio booked their place by defeating Argentina’s Lanus in the Copa Libertadores final in late November. The Porto Alegre club, twice before South American champions but not since 1995, won 3-1 on aggregate having taken a 1-0 first-leg lead to Buenos Aires. In capturing the trophy for a third time, Gremio join Sao Paulo and Santos as Brazil’s most successful sides in the competition. They were beaten only twice in 14 matches. Making their Club World Cup debut, they are seeking to emulate crosstown rivals Internacional, who won the title in 2006.

Manager: Renato Gaucho – A former forward, the Brazilian was integral to Gremio’s first Copa Libertadores success. Took the reins last year and has also guided the club to the Copa do Brasil title.

Key players: Pedro Geromel, Maicon, Arthur Melo, Luan, Lucas Barrios.

Star stat: 56 the percentage of Gremio’s goals scored in this year’s Copa Libertadores by attacking pair Luan (8) and Lucas Barrios (6).

Updated: December 4, 2017 08:03 PM

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