Despite having several predecessors, with different formats and conceptions, the current FIFA Club World Cup emerged in 2005 as a replacement for the old Intercontinental Cup, which only faced clubs representing UEFA and Conmebol. The current format includes teams from all of FIFA’s continental confederations.
The FIFA Club World Cup is usually played in December, however due to the pandemic and the delay in finishing the continental championships, it was postponed to February. The venue for the tournament has changed over the years, taking place in Japan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, the latter being the venue for the 2020 edition. The giants of Spain are the top winners of the FIFA Club World Cup: Real Madrid CF have won 4 titles while FC Barcelona have won 3.
The teams participating in this edition are the following:
Al Ahly SC: The Egyptian giant is one of the most important clubs on the African continent and a regular part of this competition throughout the years. Al Ahly SC defeated their eternal rivals, Zamalek SC, in the final of the 2020 CAF Champions League, which was promoted as “The Final of the Century” due to their rivalry. South African manager Pitso Mosimane, one of the continent’s most successful coaches, has had an almost immediate impact on the club, having won 3 titles with the Egyptian club in 6 months in office.
Al-Duhail SC: The Qatari club is invited to the tournament to be the representative of the host country, therefore, they are the only participating club that is not champion of their continental confederation. Among its outstanding players we have the Brazilian Dudu, on loan from SE Palmeiras and the Moroccan center back Medhi Benatia, former FC Bayern Munich and Juventus FC player.
Ulsan Hyundai FC: A curious case because for this 2020 FIFA Club World Cup, the South Korean club will have neither the manager who led them to win the 2020 AFC Champions League (Kim Do-hoon) nor the star player who, it is worth mentioning, scored the two goals that gave them the continental title (Junior Negrao).
It has been speculated that after Do-hoon’s departure, he bet on Hong Myung-bo with the intention of rejuvenating the squad and this could be the reason for Negrao’s departure. For the world championship they have signed Lukas Hinterseer, Austrian striker from Hamburger SV who should be the natural replacement for the Brazilian. We will have to wait to see if the strategy works in the short and long term.
Tigres UANL: one of the most economically powerful clubs in the American continent, with one of the strongest and most expensive squads, full of international players from different national teams. Manager Ricardo Ferretti has been with the Mexican club since 2010, making him the longest-serving manager in his club of all participants in the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup. Veteran French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac (35 years old) is the main offensive threat of Tigres UANL and Argentine Guido Pizarro, the most important in the creation of play in the midfield.
SE Palmeiras: recently crowned champion of the 2020 Copa Libertadores (last Sunday they played the final), it is a solid team with very talented young players such as Patrick de Paula, Gabriel Menino or Gabriel Veron, Portuguese manager Abel Ferreira has helped implement a tactical system and a very strong attitude to the team that has allowed them to overcome very important Conmebol clubs such as CA River Plate or Santos FC.
FC Bayern Munich: There is little to say about the Bavarian club, possibly the best team in the world in the last year, with many top players who can decide a match at any time. The main reference is Polish striker Robert Lewandowski although they have many other outstanding figures such as Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry, Alphonso Davies (ask FC Barcelona), etc. It would be a big surprise if they are not the champions of the tournament.