Recently, the Club World Cup occurred, a tournament contested between the reigning continental champions from across the globe. Representing Europe was Spanish side Real Madrid, who after winning their 11th Champions League via penalties, were eligible to compete in the tournament. It seemed the Galactico’s may have been the favourites to claim the crown for a second time, as they would enter the tournament at the semi-finals and this, coupled with the fact European sides are the most successful in the tournament, claiming the trophy 9 times in 13 years, seemed to support the claim. Ultimately, it was the Spaniards who emerged victorious, with a Ronaldo hat-trick seeming to be the catalyst in the victory, and ultimately the tournament may be the incentive necessary for Real Madrid to motivate themselves to win their first La Liga title since 2012.
Eligibility to compete in the tournament occurs after a club wins their respective continental competition, with the last space claimed by the reigning league champions of the host country, in this case Japanese side Kashima Antlers. As such, the tournament seems to be competed between the best teams in the world, who have accomplished in their respective continents, which may suggest there is an opportunity for players to elevate their abilities in their attempts to be crowned world club champions. The host’s seemed to play at a high standard, perhaps showcasing the quality which enabled them to win their eighth league title, winning versus OFC and AFC representatives in their quest to the semi-finals. In the opposite semi-final, Real Madrid won their maiden match in the tournament, winning 2-0 versus América, with Ronaldo, seemingly motivated by winning his fourth Balon D’or, scoring the second goal.
As such, the final was contested between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers, and with the Japanese side deemed the underdogs, perhaps the pressure had mounted on the Champions League winners. Yet, they seemed to take this in their stride, relishing the challenge of winning the title for a second time, and Ronaldo’s hat-trick, scored after Kashima had entered a one goal advantage, seemed to enable the victory. In the process, Real became the fourth consecutive European team to win the tournament, which may suggest European clubs possess the most accomplished players, and an array of talent capable of competing globally. In addition, Ronaldo’s hat-trick was the first time this had been achieved in the final of the tournament, perhaps suggesting Ronaldo is increasing his footballing credentials in order to continue to surpass records, and perhaps win a record-equalling fifth Balon D’or.
The tournament seems to be beneficial for all the clubs competing, yet perhaps the eventual winners may be able to utilise the tournament in the most productive manner. In playing versus clubs, and players, from other continents, Madrid’s players may be able to enhance their footballing abilities, as differing opponents may lead to increasing your repertoire as a player. Yet, perhaps more crucially is the impact the tournament may have on the top goal scorer, and the tournament Golden Ball winner, Cristiano Ronaldo; the tournament seemed to enable Portugal’s captain to win the aforementioned awards, and surpass further records, as his hat-trick may suggest he is playing at his peak abilities, and may aim to continue his goal scoring exploits in the upcoming year.
Real Madrid host Granada in their upcoming fixture, and may look to utilise their victory in Japan to extend their lead at the top of the table; perhaps Zidane may look to use similar tactics, as his philosophy seemed to provide dividends versus continental champions, and some of the most accomplished players from around the world. The tournament seems to have a productive impact on the teams competing, perhaps predominantly due to the showcasing of an array of players from across the globe, and may be the tournament where clubs may compete for another trophy whilst elevating their status in the process. Ultimately, Real have concluded the year with three trophies, including perhaps the pinnacle of European football, the Champions League, and victory in Japan may enhance their motivation to replicate their achievements in 2017.
How may clubs competing in the Champions League obtain the necessary credentials to replicate Real Madrid’s achievements?