Real Madrid win their third Club World Cup title for the second year in a row off of Ronaldo’s lone goal. While the score was low, much like in the match against Al Jazira, it was not indicative of the chances that Los Blancos had. There were many opportunities for Real to blow the match wide open in Abu Dhabi, but Gremio was able to prevent that from being the case.
There were several times where Real tried to score some screamers on Gremio. They were going for long, hard shots that were just finding their way wide of the net. One of Real’s best chances to go up in the first half came from a Kroos corner. Varane, doing his Sergio Ramos impression, leapt into the air and headed the ball towards the Gremio keeper. While the header by itself wasn’t going to go past Marcelo Grohe, it did find the boot of Ronaldo, where Grohe stopped before it became a major threat.
Another great chance came from a diving Sergio Ramos header. The pass went to the heel of Casemiro, where he kicked it over the net and wasn’t able to get a true hold of the pass. While Real held extensive possession the entire match, they were all over Gremio in the first half. Chances left and right for Real that just couldn’t find their way into the net of Gremio.
Perhaps the best chance came from a Ronaldo set piece towards the end of the first half. A great free kick that just soared over the crossbar and into the crowd behind the net. It was very close to being 1-0 in favour of Real.
Coming out for the second half, Real looked like they didn’t miss a beat by taking a break. They kept the pressure on and continued creating a high number of dangerous shots and chances.
Ronaldo, who was on a mission to score, worked his way through a crowded Gremio midfield and let off a shot that went rather wide. Not one to miss shots from this distance often, Ronaldo would have his chance to shine shortly after.
After being fouled, with absolute magical footwork by CR7, Real was awarded a free kick. Ronaldo took the run and unleashed a goal into the left corner of the net. Words can’t describe just how good the goal was, but it was in classic Cristiano fashion.
It helped that Gremio left a hole in their wall for Ronaldo to shoot through — but it was still a great strike from him. The goal that gave Real the lead early in the second half was also Ronaldo’s seventh goal in the Club World Cup. This leaves him tied with Pele in all-time Club World Cup goals.
Another player who had himself a game was Luka Modric. He looked absolutely brilliant with some of his passes and chances that he created. He had several chances and dangerous shots that could’ve helped Real extend their lead in the Final. It’s no wonder why he was individually rewarded at the end of the match.
Dani Carvajal also looked good with some chances of his own. The team seems to flow much better when he is in the starting squad.
Gareth Bale was another standout after coming on as a sub. He had a glorious chance where he absolutely schooled a Gremio defender and got a shot that was saved by Grohe. I can only equate it to a crossover in basketball — he nearly shook the kid out of his boots. Regardless of your feelings on him and his proneness to injuries, he’s still a world class player when he’s healthy.
Real take the match 1-0 and are back-to-back champions in the Club World Cup, tying Barcelona with three titles. While the score was close, it was pretty much all Real Madrid in this match, and little chances for Gremio overall. Real outnumbered them 20-to-1 in shots. While only seven were on target for Real, Gremio’s lone shot was not. Real also held the possession stats, 65% to 35%.
Ronaldo received the Silver Ball for his efforts in the Club World Cup, while the Golden Ball went to Luka Modric. Both absolutely deserved the recognitions for their huge contributions to this tournament. If Real indeed miss out on La Liga, they are still adding some hardware to their cabinets this season.