For European teams, the FIFA Clubis more about not failing than succeeding.
Dealing with class from across oceans and seas, the UEFA pedestal has crumbled on may the occasion. The question for FC Bayern München is whether it will be FC Barcelona, skating through the competition in 2011, or Real Madrid, who Mexican side Necaxa knocking out los Blancos in the semifinals.
As many would guess, the assumption is for FC Bayern will knock Asian Football Federation champion Guangzhou Evergrande FC silly. The Chinese club has a 20/1 chance using bet365 odds, lower other Bundesliga matches considering the match is knock-out style. That being said, anything is possible, although a trip to Morocco for the Rekordmeister will be easier than trips to Japan in the past.
The Match (1st Meeting)
Location: Stade d'Agadir, Agadir, Morocco
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Television and Streaming:
USA: Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes
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FC Bayern: WLWWW
The biggest change from the usual routine is that FC Bayern have a set list of 23 players for manager Pep Guardiola to choose from. Not only that, but the entire roster will dress, with eleven in the lineup and twelve on the bench. The most glaring name on the 23 man roster is Julian Green, taking over for the injured Arjen Robben.
As far as the team sheet goes, Guardiola will likely want to give different players opportunities for minutes but pushing for a victory at the same time, just like he did in the Telekom Cup in the pre-season. That is good news for Claudio Pizarro, Xherdan Shaqiri, Jan Kirchhoff, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Mitchell Weiser, and Green, who all could get extended looks.
The odd part about the possible rotations is that Franck Ribery did not start against Hamburger SV. Perhaps Ribéry was experiencing a relapse of his rib injury, or Guardiola was saving his French star for two games over five days in Morocco.
With Jérôme Boateng suspended at the weekend, he is assured a spot in the XI, but his partner is not so clear. The same could go for David Alaba and Javier Martínez, although their respective injuries might limit them again.
Considering the opponent, this could be an SC Freiburg or a VfL Wolfsburg kind of team sheet, based on the fitness of Guardiola's gentlemen.
Projected Lineup (4-1-4-1)
Ribéry – Martínez – Thiago – Shaqiri
Alaba – Boateng – van Buyten – Rafinha
The match against Al Ahli was an impressive showing, considering Guangzhou Evergrande FC was essentially a visitor. The Egyptians had the backing of the Morocco fans, only had to travel through the north part of the continent, and were opening their fifth Club World Cup. Still, Guangzhou held strong.
Muriqui and Elkeson lived up to their billing, the two Brazilians displaying their pace and skill. Muriqui had several chances to score, with Elkeson troublesome for the Al Ahli defenders as well. Gao Lin and Dario Conca provided a lot of attacking ability for midfielders as well.
The noteworthy weakness was in the midfield, with Al Ahli able to control possession and the pace of the game in the center of the park. Manager Marcello Lippi elected for Rong Hoa in midfield, listed as a defender, to add some stability in midfield, an indicator of the depth of quality throughout the Guangzhou side. The club's passing resembles more of a Schwarz-Weiß Rehden than a Barcelona, with even goalkeeper Zeng Cheng with a crucial mistake that nearly led to an unwanted concession.
With another must win, Lippi might elect to replicate his team sheet from the quarter-finals.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2)
Muriqui – Elkeson
Zheng Zhi – Conca – Gao Lin – Huang Bowen
Zhang Linpeng – Feng Xiaoting – Young-Gwon Kim – Sun Xiang
Bench: Yang Jun, Li Shuai, Yi Teng, Zhao Peng, Feng Junyan, Qin Sheng, Feng Renliang, Yang Chaosheng, Rong Hao, Hu Weiwei, Zhao Xuri
Manuel Neuer has already issued his respectful analysis of Guangzhou Evergrande FC, although respectfully, the Chinese club might be the equivalent as a low-end 2. Bundesliga side at best. Guangzhou was exposed at times, and FC Bayern won 41 consecutive Bundesliga matches because the side exploits mistakes. Considering German insistence to play a game start to finish despite the scoreline, it might be a big one.
Projected Score: FC Bayern München 5-0 Guangzhou FC