A quick and sincere congratulations to Guangzhou Evergrande, the Chinese side and current Asian Champions League title holders, who advanced Saturday into the FIFA Club World Cup semifinals.
Guangzhou Evergrande arrived into the semis in Morocco with a 2-0 win over Egyptian club Al Ahly SC, the CAF (African) champions. Al Ahly had more of the ball and more chances, but weren’t as opportunistic as the Chinese in the first of two matches at the Agadir Stadium on Saturday.
And the Chinese side’s reward: a date with FC Bayern Munich, last year’s Champions League winners one of the best clubs in the world. Pep Guardiola’s team meets Guangzhou at the Agadir Stadium on Wednesday.
The annual FIFA Club World Cup gives the little guys a chance; club winners from Asia, Africa and North America always have a chance of pulling off a big tournament upset, and have done so at times. But generally speaking, the big boys from Europe are bound for a championship date with the big boys from South America.
You never really know about the money teams out of Europe (Bayern, in this case), about how they’ll handle the big travel and how much regard they genuinely have for this annual tournament, a bit of an awkward disruption dropped right in the middle of their domestic and continental campaigns.
Bayern left for Morocco immediately after its Bundesliga fixture, a comfortable 3-1 win Saturday over Hamburg (pictured above from Saturday) which means that Guardiaola’s club goes into the German winter break on top of the table.
Bayern’s men seem excited about their part in FIFA’s annual club tournament; check out some of the players’ Tweets as they traveled out of Germany, courtesy of the official Bundesliga site.
If Bayern and all of its top stars are truly invested, it’s hard to see the Chinese keeping pace. Chelsea won by two goals over Monterrey in a similar position last year. A year before that, Barcelona made easy work of Qatari side Al-Sadd in a 4-0 result.