Being crowned as the champions of world club soccer doesn’t command the reverence you might expect. The FIFA World Club Cup often disrupts the domestic campaigns of a host of teams involved and subsequently, it’s seen by many supporters as a hindrance to their side’s quest for major honors closer to home.
Last season’s tournament caught the eye however, as Raja Casablanca—taking part as champions of the host nation, Morocco—made an unexpectedly thrilling run to the final. And while they were unable to best eventual winner Bayern Munich, perhaps those sides taking part this year will gain some inspiration from their run.
Real Madrid, who have accrued 19 straight wins at the time of writing, will be the overwhelming favorites in Morocco, where the tournament will be hosted for the second consecutive year. But the champions of various continents, spurred on perhaps by the exploits of Raja 12 months ago, will fancy their chances of upsetting the odds.
Here are the fixtures to come in this competition and a detailed look at the participants looking to be crowned as champions of the soccer world.
All kick-offs are in Eastern Time.
Match 1 – ES Setif vs. Auckland City
No team has featured in this competition more than New Zealand outfit Auckland City, and they were made to fight for their place in the tournament proper when they overcame local Moroccan team Moghreb Tetouan on a penalty shootout in the qualifying playoff.
They’ll be hoping to eliminate African opposition for the second consecutive match, when they take on ES Setif. The Algerian side won the African Champions League to qualify for this showpiece tournament and will be the big favourites to make it through to the semi-finals, especially after the Oceanians’ sapping qualifying match.
But the New Zealand team will be hoping the spirit and fortitude they showcased against Moghreb can see them through another testing tie and notch an historic semi-final appearance at this competition. Look out for Argentinean forward Emiliano Tade; his goals were absolutely vital to Auckland’s triumph in their 2014 OFC Champions League win and will surely be so here if they’re to make any progress.
Match 2 – Cruz Azul vs. Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday, December 13, 2:30PM, FOX Soccer 2GO
After sampling glory in the CONCACAF and AFC Champions League tournaments earlier in the year, Cruz Azul and Western Sydney Wanderers have both struggled on the domestic front. They will be hoping this tournament can provide some much needed relief as they each get set for their Club World Cup debut.