The 14th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup is just around the corner, and the official squad lists of the seven participating teams in the UAE from December 6-16 have been confirmed.
Brazilian side Gremio became the final team to book their Club World Cup berth after winning the Copa Libertadores on the November 29.
The Brazilians will try to emulate their compatriots Internacional and Corinthians – Club World Cup champions in 2006 and 2012, respectively – and will head to UAE with all the stars that lead them to continental glory.
Fans will enjoy the quality of youngsters Luan and Arthur, two of the most talented players in Brazil, as well as Lucas Barrios’ expertise.
Despite losing star player Hirving Lozano to PSV Eindhoven, Mexican club Pachuca will arrive with a strong team including striker Franco Jara, who scored six goals in the CONCACAF Champions League, Japan international Keisuke Honda and talented youths from the club’s academy, such as Erick Gutierrez.
While it will be Los Tuzos’ fourth outing at the Club World Cup, it will be the ninth appearance for New Zealand’s Auckland City. Coach Ramon Tribulietx will head to the Middle East with a squad full of familiar faces, such as Spain’s Angel Berlanga and Argentina’s Emiliano Tade.
For their part, current Club World Cup holders and European champions Real Madrid will arrive at the tournament with all their big-name stars. Cristiano Ronaldo, who won The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award 2017, will travel to Abu Dhabi alongside Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Isco, Sergio Ramos and Keylor Navas. Los Blancos have their sights set on writing their names in the history books once more by becoming the first side ever to defend the Club World Cup title.
Al Jazira, representing the host nation, are champions of the Arabian Gulf League and will be eager to give a good account of themselves. In order to do so they are relying on the experience of players such as Morocco international Mbark Boussoufa and forward Ali Mabkhout.
African champions Wydad Casablanca will be bolstered by the presence of their chief attacking weapons, such as striker Achraf Bencharki and fleet-footed winger Ismail El Haddad, who helped them lift the continental crown for the first time in 25 years.
Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds will be keen to demonstrate the defensive prowess that led them to conquer Asia. Illustrious veterans such as captain Yuki Abe and the team’s leading marksman and hero of the continental final Rafael Silva, will be out to show what they can do.
Anticipation for the World Cup is beginning to hot up with 2018 just around the corner.
That will only intensify as the football world descends on Moscow for the official group stage draw later today.
Who will feature in the dreaded ‘group of death’?
Which sides are likely to be given a favourable passage to the knockouts?
We’ll have all the action as it happens live right here.
December is here which can only mean one thing – the transfer window will be soon be open.
The rumour mill will hit a top gear this month as clubs look to get deals set-up ahead of January 1.
Here, we examine the three big transfer stories dominating headlines around Europe today.
Will any of the following deals happen?
According to Sport, the Catalan giants are prepared to offer €130million but understand they may have to increase that to €150million in order to get their man.
What Liverpool have shown so far this season is that the dependency on Coutinho is fading. He was unquestionable their star man last term but Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are two assets arguably more vital to Jurgen Klopp than the Brazilian.
That could mean Liverpool can be persuaded to sell in January having rejected three bids in the summer but regardless they are in a strong bargaining position with Coutinho signed until 2022.
The 22-year-old has barely played for United this season and a whole host of Premier League clubs are interested in ending his Old Trafford nightmare.
Newcastle and Tottenham are two clubs who have been registered with an interest but according to the report, the former has been put off by the price tag.
They are now pursuing a loan deal and having played just 33 minutes of football all season, the attraction of more first-team football will surely see Shaw seek a move next month.
The Gunners tried to sign the Northern Ireland international in the summer but saw a £25million bid turned down on deadline day and reports suggest it will take an offer of £30million to convince West Brom to sell.
John Stones’s hamstring injury has meant Pep Guardiola will be in the market for a defender in January and Evans was said to be a target last summer.
For Arsenal, Per Mertesacker is retiring at the end of the season and they will hope the 29-year-old West Brom man can be his long-term replacement.