The FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2013 reaches its finale on Saturday, when tournament favourites FC Bayern Munchen take on surprise packages Raja Casablanca in the final at the Marrakech Stadium. The two sides, who have never met before, are appearing in the final for the very first time, though the Moroccans have experience of facing European opposition at the Club World Cup, having met Real Madrid in 2000, a game they lost 3-2.
FC Bayern Munchen-Raja Casablanca, Marrakech Stadium, Saturday December 21, 11:30 a.m. PT
Saturday’s big match gives Bayern the chance to cap a hugely productive 12 months in style. The FIFA Club World Cup would be the Bavarian giants’ fifth title of 2013, a year in which they have won the Bundesliga, German Cup, UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup.
Pep Guardiola’s men made short work of Guangzhou Evergrande FC in the semi-finals, easing to a 3-0 win, and their coach, who won the trophy with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, will be keen to maintain his spotless record in the competition. The Spanish tactician has presided over five wins in his five Club World Cup games, making him the most successful coach in the tournament’s history.
This year’s competition has already been a fairy tale experience for home club Raja Casablanca. The Moroccan champions were regarded as the weakest side on paper at the start of the tournament and struggled for long periods in their opener against Auckland City FC before grabbing a stoppage-time winner.
Les Rajaouis have grown in belief since then, earning an extra-time victory over CF Monterrey in the quarter-finals and then producing their very best football to sweep aside Atletico Mineiro in the semis. Should they find that kind of form again in the final, Bayern could be in for an uncomfortable evening.
12 - the number of goals Raja Casablanca have scored in the FIFA Club World Cup over the years. Only Barcelona with 17 and CF Monterrey with 16 have hit the back of the net more times in the tournament than the North Africans.
“The players are very motivated at the prospect of playing another massive game against top-class rivals. Bayern are a legendary club with a philosophy of their own. We’re not going to be intimidated though, and we’ll be looking to make the most of our opportunities. The pressure is on them, not us. I hope we can conjure up a wonderful finale to this adventure and win the title,” Raja Casablanca coach Faouzi Benzarti.
“We can’t start to think it’s going to be easy. We need to focus and take it seriously. They (Raja) are a good Moroccan team," Franck Ribery, Bayern winger.