RABAT (AFP) – European giants Real Madrid will face either Mexican side Cruz Azul or Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers for a place in the final of the Club World Cup, which kicks off in Morocco on Wednesday.
Cruz Azul won the Concacaf Champions League title while the Sydney club beat Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal for the Asian title.
The December 10-20 Club World Cup tournament will be played at Rabat and Marrakech and features seven clubs: Real, Auckland City of New Zealand who are champions of Oceania, Cruz Azul, Moghreb Athletic of Tetouan from the host nation as well as Argentina’s San Lorenzo, the Copa Libertadores winners.
Western Sydney Wanderers and Algeria’s Setif, the recently crowned African champions, make up the numbers.
The Club World Cup will go ahead despite Moroccan authorities trying to have the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, due to be staged in the country in January and February, postponed because of the Ebola epidemic.
And it will be the star-studded Cristiano Ronaldo-fired Real side that shall surely attract most attention in their bid to emulate last year’s winners Bayern Munich and continue European domination of the tournament.
Since its launch in 2000, Corinthians of Brazil have won twice, the last time in 2012, but aside from that there has been a roll call of European giants’ victories since 2007, including AC Milan, Inter Milan, Manchester United and Barcelona, twice, to go along with Bayern.
Real right-back Dani Carvajal admitted that adding a new title to their honours in the shape of the Club World Cup was his team’s driving goal. The other team to go straight into the semi-finals are top Argentine club San Lorenzo, of whom Pope Francis is a fervent supporter.