Bayern Munich begin their quest to add the FIFA Club World Cup to their already bulging trophy collection from a glory-laden 2013 in Morocco on Tuesday. The European champions meet the Asian Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande in the first of the competition’s semifinals.
The competition comes in the midst of a demanding schedule for Bayern, having beaten Hamburg 3-1 in the Bundesliga on Saturday. But, despite a grueling year, defender Jerome Boateng is keen for his team to produce one last effort in order to win a competition that he values highly.
“It’s a purely mental thing,” he said, according to Bayern Munich’s official website. “Naturally you feel yourself running low on energy, but you can summon up all your reserves in two more matches, and that’s what we’ll do. We want to bring home this trophy too!
“Who knows if I’ll ever have another shot at this tournament again? Every player yearns for these things, and we’re privileged enough to be here this year. That’s motivation enough.”
After their historic treble last season, Bayern have begun this campaign in similarly impressive fashion. Pep Guardiola has taken the reins from Jupp Heynckes but if anything the team has been improved by integrating the former Barcelona coach’s possession-based philosophy and the addition of Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara.
Bayern will be heavy favorites to move into Saturday’s final, but will face a Guangzhou side relishing the prospect of taking on Europe’s best. Having completed a hat-trick of Chinese Super League titles, Guangzhou won the AFC Champions League for the first time against FC Seoul in October.
The result was the culmination of significant investment which has seen the likes of Brazilian trio Dario Conca, Elkeson and Muriqui arrive on high salaries and last year the appointment of legendary World-Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi.
Guangzhou have already got a game under their belts in Morocco having done well to beat African champions Al Ahly 2-0 in the quarterfinals to earn their shot against Bayern. While admitting that his squad are weary and have little chance of upsetting the odds, Lippi believes his players will be lifted by the occasion and can’t be completely written off.
“We know that Bayern are one of the best teams in the world,” he said, according to FIFA.com. “We’d probably lose 99 out of 100 games against them, though maybe our one and only win will come in the semi-finals here. Our year started back on 5 January and most of my players have got 65 matches in their legs. There’s also the fatigue of the trip here to consider. They’re very tired, both mentally and physically, but facing Bayern is one of the biggest things a player can experience.”
Where to watch: The FIFA Club World Cup will kick off from the Agadir Stadium in Agadir at 2.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 1, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.