Real Madrid and Club América will play Thursday in the Club World Cup semifinals at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.
While most fans, and European clubs, view the Club World Cup as a winter’s chore, a tedious trip for an otherwise meaningless trophy, Real Madrid seem to be taking it rather seriously. Why? Quoth the Wu, “Dolla-dolla-bill y’all.”
With Cristiano Ronaldo picking up his third Ballon d’Or in four years, and heading to Japan, where there’s a passionate Real Madrid fanbase, this is a marketer’s dream come true. Per ESPN FC, Uncle Flo said winning three international titles (the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, and Club World Cup) is important to Madrid.
"They are the three titles we won in 2014. We are going to work hard in Japan to make sure we win all three again this year,” Perez said.
Zinedine Zidane echoed his boss’ sentiment.
“We are ready for tomorrow and I will put the best team possible out. We have a lot of options but the idea is to put out the best team," Zidane said.
Meeting Los Blancos in Asia is Club América, one of Mexico’s most storied clubs. They’re rich in history (they’re celebrating their centennial year), personality (their current manager Ricardo La Volpe was once reprimanded by FIFA for smoking on the bench during a World Cup match), and attacking prowess. América are Liga MX’s second leading-scoring team, with Argentine forward Silvio Romero as their target man. Trouble for them is, they also leak plenty of goals.
Real Madrid enter this match without captain Sergio Ramos, Pepe, and Gareth Bale. Omitting those three, expect Madrid to come out with their strongest possible lineup, and aiming to bury América sooner rather than later. Given the form of Madrid’s defense, this match could feature plenty of goals, but Madrid’s attacking ability, even sans Bale, is on another plane than América’s.
It’s hard to forecast what the environment in the Nissan Stadium will be like. As stated earlier, Asia is a huge market for Real Madrid, and there’s no lack of Madrid supporters there. It’s just a matter of whether they’ll be 72,000 strong on a weekday. Yokohama is a huge city of nearly 4 million people on Japan’s south coast, nestled beautifully between the Tokyo Bay and the Tanzawa Mountains.
If you’re in the U.S., set your alarm and get your coffee ready for brewing, as kickoff is early, not even bright and early, as the sun might still be down when the teams kick off.
Kickoff: Thursday, 12th December 2016 at 5:30AM EST
Club América: Munoz; Valdez, Samudio, Arroyo, Goltz; Aguilar, Martinez, William da Silva; Oribe Peralta, Quintero, Romero.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Marcelo, Raphaël Varane, Nacho, Dani Carvajal; Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modrić; Lucas Vázquez, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo