Three clubs will make their competition debut at the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup, where defending European champions Bayern Munich are the favorites to be crowned Liverpool’s successors.
Hansi Flick has brought a strong squad to Qatar as the UEFA Champions League titleholders look to maintain a 100-percent record at the Club World Cup, having lifted the trophy in their only previous appearance (2013). Bayern are one of two teams to qualify directly for the semifinals, where they will face either Ulsan Hyundai or Tigres UANL, the latter being among those Club World Cup newcomers.
Second Round Fixtures
Thursday, February 4
Tigres UANL vs. Ulsan Hyundai, 9 a.m. ET - FS2, FOX Deportes
Al-Duhail vs. Al Ahly, 12:30 p.m. ET - FS2, FOX Deportes
Sunday, February 7
Palmeiras vs. Tigres UANL or Ulsan Hyundai, 1 p.m. ET - FS2, FOX Deportes
Monday, February 8
Bayern Munich vs. Al-Duhail or Al Ahly, 1 p.m. ET - FS2
Club World Cup Final
Thursday, February 11
Winner of Semi-Final 1 vs. Winner of Semi-Final 2, 1 p.m. ET
Palmeiras will also make their bow having secured the last remaining berth less than one week ago. Breno Lopes’ header in the ninth minute of injury time sealed a close-fought 1-0 win over Santos to bring the Sao Paulo outfit their second Copa Liberadores title:
Qatar is hosting the Club World Cup for a second time in as many editions after Liverpool beat Flamengo in the 2019 final, but Bayern have since taken over as Europe’s representatives.
The Bundesliga champions have been typically great this season, but it’s understandable they haven’t looked their usually invincible selves after a demanding 2020 featured few breaks. Manager Flick isn’t taking their favorite status for granted, either, with Die Roten still to play one league fixture on Friday before they fly to the Middle East:
The full might of Bayern will look to add more weight to their trophy cabinet, with the likes of Serge Gnabry, Alphonso Davies and Robert Lewandowski—who has 27 goals in 25 appearances this season—each promising to do damage.
Tigres are another contender in the midst of a domestic campaign, with the Liga MX Clausura still in its early stages. They’ll meet Palmeiras in the penultimate round provided they can beat South Korea’s Ulsan, who won the 2020 AFC Champions League to book their place in the contest.
UANL manager Ricardo Ferretti has named a squad mixing regular starters and upcoming prospects, with Erick Avalos, Arturo Delgado and Jose Solis among those targeting senior debuts:
Al-Duhail make their debut as hosts and reigning kings of the Qatar Stars League, faced with a second-round showdown against CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly, who appear for the sixth time. That tally’s second only to New Zealand’s nine-time contenders, Auckland City, who were set for a 10th appearance before coronavirus measures saw them withdraw in January.
That change in programming worked in favor of their would-be first-round opponents, Al-Duhail, who were awarded a 3-0 win by default and moved on to face Al Ahly. The Egyptians will be wary of established Red Knights like Edmilson Junior and Mohammed Muntari. However, January signing Michael Olunga warrants attention after the Kenyan—who scored 28 goals in 32 games for Japanese outfit Kashiwa Reysol last season—netted a hat-trick in his third game for the club:
Al Ahly have twice made it into the final four of the Club World Cup and mustered an all-time best finish of third in 2006. The African ambassadors exited in the second round when Bayern last graced the competition seven years ago but will pray for better luck this time around.
All eyes are on the Germans as front runners to lift the Club World Cup, but Palmeiras demand respect as they seek to become Brazil’s fourth champion of this tournament (after Sao Paulo, Internacional and two-time winners Corinthians). Brazil will overtake Spain in producing the most Club World Cup finalists if Palmeiras make it to the decider at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, chasing their second piece of silverware in less than a fortnight.