Bayern Munich’s bid for a fifth trophy in 2013 will begin Tuesday, Dec. 17 when they open up their FIFA Club World Cup account against Guangzhou Evergrande in Morocco.
The German club are the current Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, Champions League and UEFA Super Cup holders, and a title in North Africa would cap off a remarkable year.
Bayern, who—along with Copa Libertadores holders Atletico Mineiro—received a bye to the semi-final, will clash with Guangzhou at the Agadir Stadium after the Asian Champions League winners clinched a 2-0 win over Egyptian side Al Ahly SC in the quarter-final.
|FIFA Club World Cup Semi-Final|
|Date, K/O (GMT)||Venue||Fixture||Stream|
|Dec. 17, 19:30||Agadir||Guangzhou Evergrande vs. Bayern Munich||FIFA.com|
|Dec. 18, 19:30||Marrakech||Raja Casablanca vs. Atletico Mineiro||FIFA.com|
The German champions are overwhelming favourites to return the title to European soil after South American side Corinthians beat Chelsea in last year’s final in Japan.
Bayern are making their Club World Cup debut, but the man at the helm, Pep Guardiola, knows all about winning the event, which brings together the current champions from FIFA’s six confederations and the host nation’s top team.
Guardiola lifted the title in 2009 and 2011 with former club Barcelona, and he will be hoping to do the same with his new team.
But standing in his way is Italian boss Marcello Lippi, who is no stranger to playing against the big teams.
Lippi became the first manager in history to win both the UEFA Champions League, which he did with Juventus in 1996, and the Asian equivalent, after leading Guangzhou to a maiden crown this year.
Guangzhou have enjoyed something of a meteoric rise since returning to the top flight of Chinese football in 2010. Heavy financial backing combined with Lippi’s experience have been key to their reversal of fortunes.
While the team is made up of mainly Chinese internationals, Guangzhou are ignited by their Brazilian trio—Elkeson, Dario Conca and Muriqui.
Bayern, however, have looked unstoppable at times this year and Guardiola has brought a close-to-full-strength squad to Morocco. Per the official website, Munich are unbeaten in 41 Bundesliga games and—despite defeat to Manchester City last week—they finished top of their Champions League group.
Speaking with the official website, Lippi, who also lifted the World Cup with Italy in 2006, said:
We know that Bayern are one of the best teams in the world. We’d probably lose 99 out of 100 games against them, though maybe our one and only win will come in the semi-finals here.
The other final four match-up sees Atletico Mineiro take on local side Raja Casablanca, who kept their dream alive with an upset win over Mexican club CF Monterrey in the last eight.
The final will take place in Marrakech on Dec. 21.