x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Treble is unlikely for Estudiantes

The South American champions rest key players with Club World Cup in mind but a loss to Colon leaves them six points behind and two matches left.

BUENOS AIRES // Estudiantes' hopes of a 2009 treble virtually disappeared in a 1-0 home defeat by Colon in the Argentine Primera Division on Wednesday. The South American champions, set to play in the Club World Cup next month, succumbed to a stoppage-time goal by striker Federico Nieto that lifted Colon to third, four points behind leaders Banfield with three matches left. Estudiantes, resting several players including captain Juan Sebastian Veron as they prepare for their trip to Abu Dhabi for the tournament, which starts on December 9, are six points behind Banfield with only two matches left. Banfield have four games to play.

Coach Alejandro Sabella's Estudiantes, who lifted the club's fourth Copa Libertadores in July, visit River Plate tomorrow and are at home to Chacarita Juniors on December 4 in their last two matches before heading to the Emirates. Meanwhile, Barcelona have given Fifa their official list of 23 players that will represent the club at the Club World Cup. Barcelona's tournament begins at the semi-final stage with a game against either Atlante, from Mexico, New Zealand's Auckland City or the Pro League champions Al Ahli on December 16. All Barca's big names are present, including Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as well as Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol who are European champions with club and country.

The Club World Cup is the only trophy missing from Barca's long list of honours. The last two times Barca won the European Champions League, in 1992 and 2005, they were beaten by Sao Paulo and Internacional at the Club World Cup, or the Intercontinental Cup as it was previously known. * With agencies