Tournament surprise package Raja Casablanca are all that stand between Bayern Munich and rounding off a historic year as the FIFA Club World Cup champions. If they’re successful, it would be the Bavarians fifth trophy of 2103, having won a unique treble of Bundesliga, Champions League and German Cup last season before adding the UEFA Super Cup.
Bayern comfortably secured their progress to the final in Morocco by beating Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 on Tuesday, a match in which they also struck the woodwork on a number of occasions. Pep Guardiola is determined to end the year on a high, while he also paid tribute the man who led the club to last season’s success, Jupp Heynckes.
“We have to be 100 percent focused on our dream,” he said, according to Bayern Munich’s official website. “I’m here for Jupp. I hope we win the trophy, for him, the players and the whole club.”
Bayern will be overwhelming favorites to pick up the trophy against the local side, but attacking midfielder Franck Ribery is taking nothing for granted.
“It’s been an amazing season,” he told FIFA.com. “We’ve done very well, but I always want to keep winning, that’s my mentality. The pressure hasn’t really let up -- we’re always expected to win.
“We can’t start to think it’s going to be easy. We need to focus and take it seriously. They’re a good Moroccan team.”
For Raja Casablanca, even being in the final, only the second African side ever to do so, is something of a minor miracle. The club came into the competition in disarray having just fired their coach following a poor run of results in the Moroccan league that sees them languishing in mid-table. But wins against Auckland City and Monterrey put them through to the semifinals where they caused a huge upset by beating South American champions Atletico Mineiro 3-1.
And striker Mouhssine Iajour, who sits top of the competition’s scoring charts with two goals, is hoping for another surprise on Saturday.
“There are always surprises in football, and when you’re out on the pitch there’s no such thing as a strong team or a weak team,” he told told FIFA.com.
“We proved that against Monterrey, who have won several [CONCACAF] Champions Leagues, and then against the Brazilians, who were big favorites to beat us. Yet despite it all, it’s Raja who are going to play the final. There’s no such thing as logic. Even if you’re the favorite, you have to go out on the pitch and prove it.”
Where to watch: The FIFA Club World Cup Final will kick off from the Marrakech Stadium in Marrakech at 2.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 2, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.