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World Club Cup deserves respect

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Tim Vickery | 15:09 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

The champions of all the continents have congregated in Abu Dhabi for the annual World Club Cup - to the usual European indifference.

The great Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos recently spoke of how, in 2000, he tried in vain to get his Real Madrid team-mates excited at the prospect of becoming world champions, but they treated it as a holiday. It did not endear him to fans of Corinthians, his current club, who won the title a decade ago.

Meanwhile, British football fans, it seems, can barely stifle a yawn about the competition, but I think this is unfortunate.

Everything started so positively. The roots of the current tournament lie in the annual battle between the champions of Europe and South America, started in 1960, which produced some epic matches in its early years.

Indeed, Pele believes his performance when Santos tore Benfica apart to win the title in Lisbon in 1962 as the finest of his career.

The British, though, only came to the party after Santos had given up on South America's Champions League. Instead, by the time Celtic and Manchester United won the European Cup, the Libertadores was in the grip of Argentine football at its most cynical.

There was little pleasure in facing Racing and Estudiantes, as Celtic and United did in 1967 and 68 respectively - just a long voyage to face stones thrown from the crowd and niggling opponents determined to remove all flow from the game.

Come the late 70s, when English teams took a stranglehold on the European Cup, they declined to take part in a two-legged tie against the South American champions.

They did turn up when the format changed in 1980, and the game was played as a one-off in Japan, but never took it seriously. It was a mid-season jaunt to play a glorified exhibition match, a gentle run to give the Japanese an idea of what football was all about.

Such ideas seem very dated now. With the global expansion of football there is nothing remotely funny about a football tournament taking place in Japan, where the first four World Club Cups were staged after Fifa introduced the current format in 2005.

The same applies to Abu Dhabi, which is staging the competition for the second time.

Even so, the tournament has still not caught the European imagination - the British especially. Two things are missing.

The first is quality. Some of the teams are weak. Then again, without exposure to a better level of competition, how are teams expected to improve?

African champions TP Mazembe are taking part for the second consecutive year. Last Friday's win over Pachuca of Mexico indicated that they have profited from last year's experience and have developed over the last 12 months.

African side TP Mazembe beat Pachuca of Mexico 1-0 to reach this year's semi-finals - photo: AP

The other missing factor has been a truly thrilling final, the cut and thrust of two evenly-matched teams producing an excellent spectacle.

This has not happened because of the imbalance of forces. So far the final has always been contested by the representatives of Europe and South America. There have been two triumphs for Brazil - Sao Paulo beating Liverpool in 2005 and Internacional overcoming Barcelona a year later. But the victorious pair, like the other South American finalists, took the field acknowledging their inferiority. They fought from a trench, hanging on for grim life and hoping to get lucky with a counter-attack.

The exception was Boca Juniors of Argentina in 2007, who went toe to toe with Milan and were beaten far easier than the 4-2 scoreline would suggest. Their defeat was hardly surprising as the best South American, Kaka, was playing not for them but against them.

European club football had managed to transform the rest of the planet into its feeder. The South American teams, made up of workmanlike players plus the odd promising youngster, were up against the best that the whole world had to offer. It is little wonder that there has been an imbalance of forces.

Perhaps the playing field is levelling up a little bit. The crisis in Europe's economy, along with the boom in Brazil's, might in time produce a different scenario - which could be tested out this year.

Assuming that the final is once again between Europe and South America - and there will surely come a time when it won't be - then Saturday's match-up might prove the most fascinating since the current format was adopted.

Inter Milan are not the most dominant European champions of recent times, while Internacional of Brazil have a more expansive, talented side than the one which frustrated Barcelona four years ago.

Having said that, Internacional are still a selling club, who look to finance their squad by producing and selling potential stars to Europe. They anticipate that the terms of trade are working in their favour, and that soon they will be able to hang on to their best players until the age of 23 or 24, rather than the current optimum selling age of 20/1.

Their latest two products left as soon as the club had won the Libertadores title in August. Midfielder Sandro joined Tottenham, but more problematic has been replacing support striker Taison, who joined Ukraine club Metalist. His flying pace was vital to coach Celso Roth's 4-2-3-1 system.

Once of Portsmouth, Argentine Andres D'Alessandro is an impish playmaker, and young Brazil international Giuliano is a player of exceptional promise. But without Taison the team have found it harder to lengthen the game. With everyone wanting the ball to feet they have at times had possession without penetration.

To my mind, then, Inter Milan are still favourites to win the title. But there is the chance of a better game. Rather than a prolonged attack against defence, we might see a match where both sides are seeking to impose themselves. The World Club Cup needs to come up with such a spectacle if it is going to rouse the English from their indifference.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football tovickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:
Q) I understand that Brazil always takes the Olympics seriously. Would they take the Confederations Cup in 2013 and the next Copa America seriously considering the lack of competitive matches between now and 2014 when they host the World Cup?
Edmund Allen

A) No doubt about it, the lack of competitive matches is not ideal. They will try to compensate by facing teams with different styles in friendlies but there is no substitute for competitive action.

The Copa America will shed light on the success of the generational and philosophical changes they have made since the World Cup, and the Confederations Cup will et them used to the challenge of playing competitive matches in front of their own crowd.

Q) While the much-maligned Lucas Leiva, who at 19 became the youngest player ever to win the Bola de Ouro, struggles to impress for Liverpool in the Premier League (although he has improved since the departure of Rafa Benitez), he continues to be called up by Brazil and especially now under Mano Menezes and has even managed to win some plaudits for his performances in a Brazil shirt.

What in your opinion is stopping him from repeating his form that he had in the Brazilian league for Liverpool? Do you think he could turn his fortune around if he leaves for say, the Serie A or La Liga?
Darien Loh

A) I'd love to know what Liverpool fans make of his recent form for the club. It's been hard going for him establishing himself - compared with Brazil, there is so much less time in English midfields, which inevitably creates problems of adaptation.

The 2007-model Lucas was a player seen at his best making forward bursts and getting into the box - precisely the thing that Steve Gerrard does so well. So I think that was a problem for him. But credit to him - he hasn't stood still as a player. He's a much better defensive midfielder than he was when he joined Liverpool, which Mano Menezes has spotted and is making use of.

With Gremio, Menezes used Lucas as the second man in midfield i.e. with more freedom to get forward. Now with Brazil he's been playing him as the holder, marking and distributing from deep.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Another great blog and I fully agree that Europe should pay more serious attention to the competition. It's the only competition where the best teams from across the globe come up against eachother. This in theory is a fantastic spectacle and should be entertaining.

    As you correctly state, the only way for teams from the 'lesser' footballing continents to improve is by continued participation but are club teams from Africa or Oceania ever going to be able to compete with the European powerhouses? Even in lets say 20 or 30 years clubs from these regions will still be lagging so far behind their European counterparts it will be impossible to make the ground up.

    Also I can't help but think that the competition is purely seen as a money spinning event. The notion of 'developing footballing nations' aside, the competition in my opinion is viewed by FIFA in the same light as deciding where to award the next two world cups in Russia and Qatar. These two nations are similar to Abu Dhabi and Japan (where the competition was held) in the sense that there is an endless stream of money that is still relatively untapped by the footballing community.

    Would love to get in this competition but just can't see it happening. Particularly as being a Manchester United left a bitter taste after the ridiculous pressure we were put under by the FA to compete in it in 1999 to prevent Bayern Munich taking our place as England were in the midst of another failed world cup bid, ironically to Germany.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think that if the World Club Cup was more like the Confederations cup then there would be more interest, and indeed more respect for the winners. Why not enlarge it even further? The previous winners qualify, then the past 2 CL and Euro league winners, and the 2 previous Copa Liberatoderes (spelling?), and Euro league south american equivalent (bit of a mouthful that) winners. Plus the other champs of the African, Asian, North American cups, and the champions of the host nation. Knockout basis, no extra time, straight to penalties.
    Fifa could set aside one week for the tourno. The rest of the world get a weeks break, to ease tiredness etc., while those successful teams who have qualified can either complain, or send a youth team (which does devalue it a bit, but there will never be the perfect solution to this tournament).

    Incidentally, why oh why were Liverpool denied 3 good goals in the final v Sao Paolo? Liverpool actually played to win. I remember seeing Liverpool lose to Independiente (was it in 84?), and they sent a good side, and seemed up for it...well at least in my young 12 year old eyes, at the time.

    Good blog as usual Tim.

  • Comment number 3.

    Tim, I've heard you talk several times about the economic power of brazilian football and how they are now taking some of the best players from the rest of south america, including argentina.

    It strikes me as a great exaggeration, they may have more cash but I've not seen any evidence of argentines moving to brazil in great numbers. In fact I cant think of anyone who has moved in that direction in the last year.

    True, there are some Argentines doing very well in the brazilian league (d'alesandro, montillo, conca) but they are well travelled journeymen(maybe slightly unfair on my part), loaned out here there and everywhere who ended up in brazil and didnt move directly from on league to the other, certainly not as star signings (d'alesandro apart) snatched from argentina.

    The only ones i can think of are di federico (18 months ago) who had a contract dispute with huracan and a few nobodies like adrian gonzalez and sergio escudero who went, failed, and returned to small clubs in argentina.

    I dont doubt that brazilian clubs have more money than those in other south american countries but unless i've misinterpreted your comments I think they are quite misleading.

  • Comment number 4.

    Nice to see a mention of Andres D'Alessandro. Excellent player, shame he didn't seem to take to Europe. Was it a case of moving over too early in his career?

    A Champ Man legend to boot! (at least on the 01/02 version)

  • Comment number 5.

    Tim, Back in 2000 Real Madrid took the World Club Cup as a holiday because indeed it was. The real thing was played in Tokyo as the Intercontinental and that year Boca Juniors beat Real Madrid 2-1 in a thrilling final. Two years earlier, Real took the final against Vasco da Gama very seriously and won 2-1. The Europeans have always hidden behind a supposed lack of interest and nonchalance because they are often beaten. The South American wins you mention, closing up shop and recognising their inferiority, was the exact opposite in 1999 when Manchester United were pummelled by a superior Palmeiras and scraped a 1-0 and undeserved win. To realise how important the Europeans take the final, just look at pictures of the Barcelona players' faces after losing in 2006 to Internacional. The only difference between South America and Europe regarding the importance of this confrontation lies in the street and in the media. Supporters in South America are very excited by the tournamente whereas in Europe, mainly through a lack of knowledge, they are left cold by it. Clubs and players however play to win. Real Madrid held huges parades when they returned to the Spanish capital with the trophy in 1998 and 2002 and proudly proclaimed themselves "world champions". However, whenever a European team returns defeated, it, its supporters and the European media resort to the same old story: It was just a holiday

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting that you should mention Lucas Leiva in your Question and Answer section....

    If you want to know what Liverpool fans think of him have a read of...

    http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/love-is-in-the-air%E2%80%A6-lucas-leiva%E2%80%A6/

  • Comment number 7.

    As an ex-pat in Brazil I'm always interested in your blog, thanks! Maybe you've missed one point here though. The Brazilian season has just finished, and so Internacional have no distractions. This is, potentially, a winning climax to their season. On the other hand European clubs such as Milan are in the middle of the Champions League, let alone very competitive domestic leagues, and so it's hard to get enthusiastic for yet another competition. Perhaps it could be played at another time of year?

  • Comment number 8.

    I totally agree that the World Club Cup (Copa Intercontinental as it was) deserves more respect from Europeans (especially from the UK) however I disagree that Boca - Milan was the last closely matched final. Estudiantes were only about two minutes from beating Barcelona in 2009 until Pedro scored a late late equaliser to take it to extra time where Barcelona's class shone through.

    I thought it was a brilliant game, an example of how to play Barca without reverting to the basest form of ultra defence like Mourinho's Inter did to earn their place in this years World Club Cup.

    http://southamerican-futbol.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 9.

    @2

    Expand the competition? I think this would be a big mistake. First, because there is no time to have more games. European clubs already complain about their TWO matches scheduled.

    But worse imho, is the fact that it would kinda of loose its meaning. The competition is to decided the best team of the world among the winners of each continent. It makes no sense, to me, to win your continental cup just to see those same clubs that finished 2nd, 3rd or 4th in the World Club Cup!! Specially because the continental cups are ALREADY cups! It kinda makes sense in a League, when several clubs classify to the continental cups (eg Libertadores, Champions, etc). But several clubs in a Cup qualifiying to another Cup?


    As for Liverpool 3 denied goals, all denied correctly. The first was a faul at São Paulo goalkeepers, BEFORE the ball was even headed the ref had already blown his whistle. Thats the only one that can be even contested. The other two goals were perfectly ruled offside. (any video shows they were really offside)

    I dont know about the Liverpool vs Independiente match, but I know that Liverpool lost to Flamengo, 0x3, in 1981.

    Liverpool acted pompous towards Flamengo, and Flamengo REALLY beat Liverpool´s ass. Really, one thing is to dismiss S.American sides nowadays, but Liverpool dismissed Flamengo, a team that had back then Junior and Zico (and also Leandro), important players from the 1982 World Cup Brazilian team.

  • Comment number 10.

    7 - inter have had no distractions ever since they qualified for the thing - their only aim in the brazilian championship was to avoid relegation - they've been thinking about this since august.

    8 - think we were watching different games - estudiantes hardly crossed the half way line

    6 - you're clearly bothered by the drift from argentina to brazil - it's happening slowly, but it's happening.

    schiavi had a spell in brazil, as did ferrero, now of river plate.
    there's herrera at botafogo, federico nieto at ateltico-pr, ariel nahuelpan had a spell in brazil before making the move to europe. as well as d'alessandro, internacional have abbonbanzieri, argentina's keeper until not that long ago, and pablo guinazu as well.
    cruzeiro, as well as montillo, signed ernesto farias when his move to portugal didn't come off. atletico-mg took the paraguayan jc caceres from boca.

    i remember chatting to a director of gimnasia a few years back when they were in rio for a game - he couldn't believe how high the wages were in brazil, and the differential has opened out more since then.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Tim,

    I agree that the World Club deserves respect, but so does the Copa Sudamericana, havent heard much about that, maybe because another Argentinian team won it. And in last years final in the World club cup Estudiantes were one minute away from being champions, all be it Barcelona were the better team but Estudiantes had a plan that nearly payed off, and there has been deserved champions of the competition from Argentina who were not cynical, like the 1984 final when two great teams played to win, also I reacall Boca defeating Real Madrid not so long ago as well.
    Anyway good luck to Internacional I hope they win it.

  • Comment number 12.

    @bosterososvigilante

    I think the fact the argentine players moved directly to Brazil or were playing in other countries first is somewhat irrelevant to Tim´s argument.

    Either way, La Barbie (Maxi Lopez) played for Grêmio in 2009 and Internacional´s main idle has been for a few years already, an argie player: Guinazu.

    In early 2000s, Grêmio had a few players moving directly from Argentina if I am not mistaken: goalkeeper Saja, Maidana,Schiavi, etc

    In 2005, Carlitos Tevez moved directly from Argentina to Corinthians.



    I found a brazilian that played in an Argie club, so we can make the other side of the argument. Jádson Viera played in the defense of Lanus at the 2010 Libertadores.

  • Comment number 13.

    hmmm, the BBC Football PhoneIn podcast was not posted again. Another strike at BBC? :(

  • Comment number 14.

    AcesHigh - Brazilians have famously never really found success in Argentina. The only truly legendary Brazilian in Argentina was Paulo Valentim in the 1960s who is still Boca Juniors' top scorer in the Superclásico.

    The only player who has even come close in recent years (but doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as above) is Iarley who had one season with Boca 2003-04.

    I have never come across a satisfactory explination for why a host of Argentinians have thrived in Brazil, while Brazilians almost never succeed in Argentina.

    http://southamerican-futbol.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 15.

    orlando pecanha - still today an idol of boca.
    more recently - silas at san lorenzo, ricardo rocha at newells

  • Comment number 16.

    jadson viera is from the border of brazil and uruguay - came through in uruguayan football before going to argentina, then to brazil

  • Comment number 17.

    Well-written and insightful as always.

    I always fancied the notion that the Intercontinental Cup had quite an impact on the growth of the game in Japan: Zico, for example, played in one of the truly outstanding sides in the history of the competition, namely the Flamengo side which won in Tokyo in 1981, and a decade later returned to the country to help kick-start the J-League, his presence ensuring a lasting Brazilian influence over the Japanese game, both in terms of personel recruited from abroad and, consequently, also in terms of style of play.

    It's also interesting to note that for the first ten years the trophy was contested in Japan, European sides only won it thrice, which, in an age of a very different media reality to the present one, must have left the Japanese with a clear impression that South American football was vastly superior. (Argentina, Brazil and even Uruguay each produced two different winners throughout the Eighties.)

  • Comment number 18.

    Tim, I know Estudiantes didn't play suicidal all out attack against Barca and had to defend against their opponents' relentless posession but they did attack when they got the chance. I reckon it would be quite hard to get caught offside 8 times in your own half. They were 2 minutes from the perfect tactical performance.

    I thought Estudiantes played a brilliant game and were unlucky to lose, another similar game was Paraguay - Spain in the World Cup. Paraguay were unlucky to lose that one to a sublime bit of skill from Iniesta. For me they were the only team that came close to eliminating Spain from the competition and did so through tactical discipline and counter attacking football (not bus parking tactics like Switzerland in the 1st game) and they were just a debatable offside and a useless penalty from Cardozo away from putting the Spanish in real trouble.

  • Comment number 19.

    18 - 8 offsides because barcelona push up so much, and mobility outside the penalty area is not boselli's strong point

  • Comment number 20.

    Tim, I'll give you Orlando Pecanha, a team mate of the great Paulo Valentim at Boca Juniors in the 60s & Paolo Silas for his two seasons with San Lorenzo but you are stretching the definition of successful a bit by including Ricardo Rocha, one season at the back end of his career with Newell's in which they finished 18th and 9th isn't that great as compared to what these guys did in Brazil:

    Carlos Tévez, Javier Mascherano, Darío Conca, Carlos Galván, José Poy, Héctor Scotta, Rodolfo Fischer, Roberto Perfumo, Narciso Doval, Antonio Sastre.

    I'd say Rocha's stint with Newell's would be more comparable to the achievements of any one of dozens of Argentine journeymen to have played in Brazil like maybe Germán Herrera.

    http://southamerican-futbol.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 21.

    For me Estudiantes-Barca in the first half as 50-50 with the pinchas leading.In the second half the Spanish did completely dominate but Rodrigo Braña and Veron showed how Barca can be controlled.In extra time although no doubt Barca had the best of it Estudiantes had their chances.For me if Andujar or Orion would never have left in the equalizer

  • Comment number 22.

    @Vinnie: I agree with you, even more because my club, Grêmio, classified to the 2011 Libertadores only because Goiás lost that final against Independiente.

  • Comment number 23.

    The problem for the European side is that it takes place the next season. For instance, look at the difference between Chelsea's form now and the end of last season when they became English champions. In six months a team can change.

  • Comment number 24.

    Manchester United were vaguely interested when they won in 2008.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm sorry but I don't see how you can say that Europeans don't care about the club World Cup... Did you watch the Barcelona vs. Estudiantes game? Tell me it didn't mean anything to them to win? Especially considering Messi was playing against his whole homeland that was rooting for him to lose (apart from Gimnasia fans)

    This is nothing new, in 1996, Juventus did everything to beat us, and luckily for them they did. I can barely remember when we played Steau Bucharest in 1986, but they definitely cared. I think it is ignorant to say the club world cup doesn't matter, just because the English don't care doesn't mean anything.

    Plus Tim, I'm surprised you didn't bother mentioning the 1984 match between Independiente and Liverpool right after the war for las malvinas. THat game was every bit as tightly contested as the 1986 World Cup match. it was a war on the pitch.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    25- the piece is aimed mainly at english indifference - but the roberto carlos story sheds some light too. He got in trouble with corinthians fans for stating the truth - that, to his regret, the level of motivation of his real madrid colleagues was low.

    In the current competition of course the europeans want to be world champions - but they-re not dreaming of this game for months in advance. Internacional of Porto Alegre have thought of little else since winning the Libertadores last August - it was their first thought on becoming south american champions.

    I don't beleive that Inter Milan felt the same way when they won the Champions League title.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Tim wrote – “Even so, the tournament has still not caught the European imagination - the British especially. Two things are missing…quality and a thrilling final”
    “25 - the piece is aimed mainly at english indifference –“

    European, then British, then English!? Over the last 20 years since English clubs were allowed back in to Europe English clubs have only played in this match about 3 times!

    I’d say there’s another bigger issue than the two you’ve mentioned, timing. International tournaments (world cup, euro championships) and the European Cup final are played at the end of the European, British, English season. There’s nothing else to watch. I'd agree with a few people here, there have been quite a few thrilling finals.

    #5 Pingo pointed out "The Europeans have always hidden behind a supposed lack of interest and nonchalance because they are often beaten."

  • Comment number 30.

    Three Brazilian stars played for Boca: Domingos da Guia in the 30's and Paulo Valentim and Orlando Pecanha 'Orlando' in the 60's

    Also Vladem Lázaro Ruiz Quevedo 'Delem' and Roberto Fernando Frojuelo 'Roberto' played for River Plate in the 60's. Delem stayed on as junior scout and coach in Nunez for a long time until inept past president Aguilar dumped him after decades of service.

    Valentim and Delem were there on the 9th of December of 1962 at the Superclasico when two penalties decided the championship: Valentim scored from the spot for Boca in the first half and five minutes from the end River were given a penalty. Delem's shot was saved by Antonio Roma (who did controversially move 2 meters forward before the kick was struck) and Boca eventually won the league. Mr. Nai Foino, the ref who did not order the rekick then coined the famous 'penalty well taken should always be a goal...' when explaining his decision to the enraged River players.

  • Comment number 31.

    Possibly the most famous Argentine to play in Brazil was a goalkeeper: He was idolized by Vasco's fans and was part of the vascainos renaissance durin the 70's. His name was Edgardo Andrada, better known as El Gato Andrada (The Cat). Famously, he was the keeper in goal who (almost) tipped wide Pele's 1000th goal in 1969, in Maracana.

    You should also remember Norberto Madurga (Palmeiras 70'5) and more recently much condecorated Juan Pablo Sorin (Cruzeiro)

  • Comment number 32.

    Tim,

    I always find your articles very objective, non-biased, with a lot of information and to the point.

    But this time I can notice that you let your British, English sentiments touch you underway.

    The Estudiantes - Barcelona Final of Last Year (2009) can't by far be remarked as a none thrilling final.

    The 2006 Final between Internacional and Barcelona the same way.

    Seeing the numbers.
    In the course of 50 years of history of this cup, only 1 English, British have managed to win this cup (Man United). England has it only 2x on his record.

    So I think being maybe the lack of ability of English, British teams to win this cup, you have to be more objective on this subject and not stating those reasons mentioned as possible cap for the English failure at this cup. That ain't all credible anymore.

    The numbers show that between the Great 4 European Footballing Nations (Italy (8), Germany (3), Spain (5) and England (2)), England is the least winningest of them all. Even the Dutch (3) have a better winning record than the British on this matter.

    Even Portugal have 2 victories on their account.

  • Comment number 33.

    Tim's post no. 27 is right on... it is not at the front of the list in European teams' priorities... very true. Having that trophy on the shelf at the clubhouse is a big thing in South America, and I would say that it is more important in Argentina or Uruguay than in Brazil. Anyway, good luck Internacional! Oh, and there might be 6 or 7 argies in the field in the UAE, maybe 14 or 15 Brazilians... no Italians. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, they still have to win their semis.

  • Comment number 34.

    32 - a classic mistake. you think that because i'm english it bothers me that english teams have not often won the competition.

    Not atall - not even close. I'm not a nationalist in that sense - I'm a football fan.

    And as a football fan, I can understand why the world club thing is finding it hard to take off. Estudiantes v Barcelona was in many ways similar to Internacional v Barcelona in 2006 - the weaker side acknowledging its weakness and trying to win a tactical triumph - as, of course, they are quite entitled to do. Both did it very well. But on neither occasion did it make for a good spectacle.

    Take last year - imagine what Veron could have done if Estudiantes had a quick striker - if they had not sold Pablo Piatti to Spain, for example. Then, Veron could have planted his long diagonal passes behind the high Barcelona line and we would have had a game. In the event, Veron spent most of his time heading away Barcelona corners.

    But you seem to be missing the main point of the piece - which is optimistic. The conditions are changing - perhaps in the near future the South Americans may be able to retain their talent - imagibe, for example, if Santos keep the current side together for another year. Then we have the chance of a top game - which will do wonders for the consolidation of this tournament.

  • Comment number 35.

    33 - marcelao - it's huge in brazil - in the old days when the match was held in japan, a big Brazilian cub only had to win a couple of domestic matches or make a big signing and they would be talking about their 'project Tokyo.'

  • Comment number 36.

    This crap about Europeans not caring about this cup makes me sick. The more when column writers are feeding those kind of thoughts with lame excuses.

    I mean it were the Europeans in the first place who wanted this cup in 1960 when the European Cup (Champions League)was already alive and kicking and requested the South Americans then to put on their own Champions Leaugue (Copa Libertadores) so they could battle it out to see if they were the best.

    I mean get a life! You wanted to party, and since it ain't the kind of music you like playing, You wanna hit the road. Get a Life!

  • Comment number 37.

    No offense TIm, I normally love your work but I find this piece very negative and I just don't agree. You say Inter of Milan wasn't interested in the Club World Cup, but yet you also point out how big the tournament is in Brazil, and like wise in Argentina. Inter of Milan has 4 Argetines and 4 Brazilians, and they are all pumped up for this match. I know Diego Milito texted D'Alessandro when SC Internacional won the Libertadores about their future match up.

    I agree with everyone on here who says the lack of interest is just an excuse in case of a loss. Its already embarrassing enough that these Europeans can't produce their own talent and have to plunder South American leagues, but if they steal all our best players and spend millions as if they were peanuts and still lose, well thats just pathetic.

  • Comment number 38.

    OK Tim, maybe I was mistaken... it wasn't that far back that Brazilian teams tuned out of the Libertadores, in its old format... I think since Toyota took it over it became a watchable competition, with decent refereeing and no bloodshed. Did you ever see games between Uruguayan and Argentinian teams back then?

    I was at some of those games in person(Racing-Celtic, Estudiantes-ManU, Estudiantes-ACMilan, Boca-Borussia, Independiente-Ajax) in the 60's and 70's when police dogs attacked players, fans attacked referees, rocks and bottles rained on visitors and Bilardo used his pin on Nobby Stiles... for the most part, the Argentinian teams did not want open play games as they were slower than their European rivals. There was a lot of talk about manhood, not football per se. Ugly but enthralling legend building stuff...

  • Comment number 39.

    liverpool didn't bother to compete in 77 or 78, nor did nottingham forest in 79 - looks like pretty conclusive evidence for plain indifference to me.

    i'm not defending this attitude - and i don't see this as a negative piece at all - it's the opposite - it's saying that this competition is going to get better.

    but, just as roberto carlos did, i seem to have ruffled some nationalistic feathers...

  • Comment number 40.

    For those who can read Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch. This is the History of the Cup. No guys, guess what, you won't find this information in English on Wiki.

    The creator of the Intercontinental Cup is Henry Delaunay, a frenchman, former General Secretary of UEFA from its foundation on until he died. He was succeeded as head of UEFA by his son Pierre Delaunay.

    So please stop this annoying lame crap that the World Club Cup never interested the Europeans. I'm willing to go in debate with anyone on this subject.

    Please find me on http://www.rsssf.com/tablest/toyotatrivia.html
    First e-mail below.


    Spanish:

    "El precursor de la Copa Intercontinental fue Henri Delaunay, con la idea de determinar quién era el mejor equipo del mundo. La idea era enfrentar al campeón de Europa y al campeón de América del Sur ya que eran los dos continentes con un fútbol de mayor calidad.[3] Aunque ya antes se habia intentado manejar esta idea en el famoso Mundialito de clubes realizado en los años 50 en Caracas, Venezuela, el torneo aun se encuentra en estudio por parte de la FIFA como torneo precursor de la copa intercontinental.

    Europa ya tenía como designar a su campeón, ya que se disputaba la Copa de Campeones de Europa, pero América del Sur no tenía un sistema comparable. Es por eso que la Conmebol creó una competición similar, y la llamó Copa Libertadores de América."

    Portuguese:

    "Em 1960, Henri Delaunay criou a Copa Intercontinental, que seria disputada entre os melhores da Europa e América do Sul.

    Na década de 1960, a Europa já possuía um torneio continental, a Copa dos Campeões Europeus (hoje, Liga dos Campeões da UEFA), porém a América do Sul não possuía torneio semelhante. Sendo assim, no mesmo ano, a Confederação Sul-Americana criou uma competição continental e a batizou de Copa Libertadores da América, numa homenagem aos heróis da independência dos países sul-americanos."


    Dutch:
    "De (onofficiële) wereldbeker voetbal voor clubteams (Engels: Intercontinental Cup) werd van 1960 tot 2004 bijna elk jaar gespeeld tussen de kampioen van Europa (de winnaar van de Europa Cup I en later UEFA Champions League) en de kampioen van Zuid-Amerika (de winnaar van de Copa Libertadores) onder de naam European-South American Cup of EUSA Cup.

    Het idee voor de cup was afkomstig van Henri Delaunay. Hij stelde de wedstrijd tussen de beide continentale bekerwinnaars voor, zodat de clubs uit de twee belangrijkste voetbalcontinenten, Europa en Zuid-Amerika, konden beslissen wie de beste club van de wereld was. Er was wel al een dergelijk toernooi, de Pequeña Copa del Mundo, maar dit toernooi dat sinds 1952 werd gehouden stond los van de Europese voetbalbond UEFA en de Zuid-Amerikaanse voetbalbond CONMEBOL. Waar de Europese Europa Cup I al bestond, was er nog geen tegenhanger in Zuid-Amerika, waarop de Copa Libertadores door de CONMEBOL in het leven werd geroepen, zodat de strijd om de wereldbeker mogelijk was."

  • Comment number 41.

    Yeah Tim,

    Maybe those players of Real Madrid too were to much influenced by the (anglo) euro centric mass media machine and "opinion leaders".

  • Comment number 42.

    the article makes the point that the competition started well.

    but it got lost in the mid-60s - we have marcelao's eye witness testimony as to why.

    the libertadores lost its biggest attraction when santos decided they wanted nothing more to do with it - leaving the field to argentine football at its worst - and let me state that well played argentine football is my absolute favourite.

    but post the disaster of the 58 world cup the emphasis was on anti-football - this blighted the old inter-continental cup to the point that, as i cited above, the european champions at times refused to participate.

    back to the main point - this is a dynamic process, and there are now grounds for optimism.

  • Comment number 43.

    Number 40... Veeeeeery interesting mister poligloth... but you give no context whatsoever!

    As I recall it, European teams, Dutch, Spanish, German, English or whatever... if they ever had interest they lost it after horrible games (wars) played during the 60's. In 1975 and 1978 the intercontinental cup wasn't even held. In 1974 Atletico Madrid won over Independiente but guess what? The European champion was Bayern Munich who declined to play the final because of dates conflict... In 1973 Independiente beat Juventus but the European champion was Ajax, who also declined to play it for economic reasons... In 1971 Nacional of Montevideo beat Panathinaikos, but guess what? The European champion was Ajax who again declined to play in the event. In 1977 Boca beat Borussia and guess again... the European champion was actually Liverpool who declined to participate. In 1979 Nottingham Forest declined to play and Malmo of Sweden went instead, much to Olimpia of Paraguay's delight...

    Get the drift?

  • Comment number 44.

    I read that Inter Milan will have somewhere between 2-3,000 fans traveling to the UAE for this tournament so obviously they are taking this event seriously and so is their team loaded with South American players.

    Perhaps as Roberto Carlos said in 2000 Real Madrid did not take the event seriously, neither apparently did Manchester United that year, but that was the World Club Cup's first year and it was played under a different, and much more time consuming format than the competition is now. I do know that Real Madrid always took the Intercontinental Cup very seriously and their fans conducted celebrations at the Cibeles fountain when Madrid won in 1998 and 2002 just as they did when they won league and European championships. And they were in despair in 2000 when Boca beat Real Madrid.

    The new format of the World Club Cup is I think perfect and lets the clubs from the less strong confederations fight it out before the two best advance to the semifinals against the European and South American champs. This still gives the chance for an upset, and one of these days that may happen, watch for the Asian champions in particular, perhaps even this year. And the prize money is pretty substantial and even wealthy European clubs now take that seriously.

    I can not recall since the current format started where the current European champion has entered the competition in as vulnerable a position as Inter Milan are this year. That should make this year's competition more interesting.

    Soccer Futbol Forum
    http://z8.invisionfree.com/Soccer_Futbol_Forum/index.php?

  • Comment number 45.

    Number 40- As others wrote the Intercontinental cup was a big event until the violence overtook it in the mid to late 60s which led to some European clubs refusing to comepete in it. Once it restarted as a one game match in Tokyo it slowly started building up prestige in Europe (although in South America it never lost that prestige) and as I related in my post number 44 European clubs like Real Madrid, and I would add Porto and Milan always took it seriously.

    But the money at issue in the World Club Cup ensures that all clubs, even European ones now take this event seriously. It is scheduled at a good time of the year, the end of the season in South America and Asian countries like Korea & Japan (I cannot speak for the Middle Eastern leagues as I do not know their schedule) and just before most European leagues take their holiday break. This event is becoming an accepted part of the yearly international calendar.

  • Comment number 46.

    My point is... indifference does not seem to be an English only sentiment. If you were as old as I am you would know what I mean by WARS. Some of these ties were atrocious. I remember Estudiantes full back Aguirre Suarez running with the ball under control out of the box towards the sideline and roofing the ball on purpose into the second deck of Old Trafford, for no other reason than to waste some time... players would drop and fake injury for minutes, one after the other after the other... and the away legs at Centenario or at the Bombonera were lugubrious affairs.

    Anyone remember Celtic's starting goalkeeper's name? And who replaced him after a rock hit him in the head upon entering El Cilindro playing field? I saw that game (refereed by a Uruguayan...) and it was one of the dirtiest matches I have seen, poor old Scots... Celtic had a wonderful team, Lennox, Johnstone, Gemmell, O'Neill and they took huge amounts of punishment yet never retaliated.

    As an aside, when Racing played in Glasgow, even Rangers fans went to support the Catholics, who were at the time coached by their first Protestant coach, Jock Stein. Another piece of interesting trivia was that former Seleccion coach Coco Basile played for Racing and Roberto Perfumo, later a Cruzeiro stalwart partnered with Basile at full backs.

  • Comment number 47.

    bosterososvigilante

    you're in denial bro, I read some argentinean forums, they all rate Ernesto Farias pretty highly, and hes bench for not-so-stunning (to say the least) Wellington Paulista. I think the wages are massivly higher in Brazil, but I have to check the numbers.

    I think the "admitting inferiority" thing is a bit of a coincidence. The teams that win the Libertadores are not the same in December. 2006's Internacional were not the best team in south america, and I think Cruzeiro and Fluminense wouldnt be hammered like small teams as Estudiantes and LDU did. Sao Paulo while it was 0-0 played better than Liverpool. Bianchi's Boca played like that in the Libertadores also, waiting the other team. Palmeiras and Vasco "hammered" Man Utd and Palmeiras. etc..

  • Comment number 48.

    Actually Roberto Carlos said that the specific 2000 championship wasn't treated seriously. But in the same interview he said that the tokyo was very seriously treated. IIRC Guardiola cried after beating a tough Estudiantes (much tougher than Real Madrid eh? hah).

    But of course the motivation is higher for the south americans, we get European football shoved up our throats while nobody in Europe cares for our domestic football, apart from the economic difference. But the extra motivation doesnt make you win or lose a game.

  • Comment number 49.

    Oh thanks marcelao #43.

    I speak 4 and understand 6.
    Please don't hate me!


    Got it marcelao pretty good!
    As you stated the real reasons for the Europeans to get disinterested in the 70's.

    Not the same old outdated excuses (jet-lag, weak opposition, money, too tired, far-east, bla, bla, bla) we hear over and over again.

    But you guys are getting it! I'm glad.

  • Comment number 50.

    And I read a lot of european forums

    They are not indifferent on the South-American teams (which are highly respected). Its the format (2 matches only) that kind of takes away the importance of it. Its still important but not close to UCL, etc.

    I think that the fact that UCL is already a world championship (african,brazilian,paraguayan,argentinean,european players compete) take away the symbolism of the world championship for Euros.

    In South_America teams are composed basically by only brazilians, argentieans etc, and thats why its more symbolic to us.

  • Comment number 51.

    there's a book i used to have lying around somewhere - think it's michael crick's book on alex ferguson.
    the book boasts to high heaven about how serious its research is, with a team of researchers helping the author...

    ... and then states that palmeiras, united's opponents in the 99 intercontinental (and one of the last south american superteams - for the time being) are from argentina!

    And then that the home ground of vasco da gama, who united lost to in the 2000 world club cup, is the maracana.

    with all those researchers and academic pretensions.

  • Comment number 52.

    @ #47

    I'm not in denial at all.

    I'm not saying that the few argentines who play in brazil are rubbish, they couldnt be seeing as their league is slightly stronger than the argentine league and the argentines who play there are doing very well. Most of them would be welcomed to argentine clubs if they could afford them.

    I brought up the point because some of tim's comments in podcasts almost make it sound as if brazilian clubs are cherry-picking the cream of the talent from the argentine league with regularity.

    Anyone good goes directly to europe with very few exceptions. In the last couple of years, the time when the real has strengthened against the peso, hardly anyone has moved directly. De Federico is the only example i can think of of a good player making that move. And he is hardly the next messi.
    Almost all the examples above are either several years ago, nobodies or moved to brazil from outside of argentina.





  • Comment number 53.

    I tyr and pay attention but its not even on TV here. last year had to resprt to a super stuttery internet stream on a dodgy website tpo watch barca win it.

    PS: I hope inter get stuffed.

  • Comment number 54.

    I enjoy reading your blogs, well written, decent analysis and it’s about football not you. Unfortunately this one, including your comments where you try to re-direct the reader, or change tack, reads like something Mr Mcnulty would write.

    “The World Club Cup needs to come up with such a spectacle if it is going to rouse the English from their indifference.”

    Why should English (or German or Spanish) fans, or media, pay attention? It will get attention in Italy because they’re in it. Even if it’s a great match I doubt in 12 months time that will be enough motivation for the English to watch. Unless of course there’s an English team playing.

    The Toyota Cup / World Club Cup whatever the latest label, is more important to a South American team than a European team. Agreed, not really news to anyone.

    “World Club Cup deserves respect (from Europe, Britain, England – added by you later)”
    Why?

  • Comment number 55.

    Tim, you keep referring to Roberto Carlos and Real Madrid in 2000 to back up your case, but you are way off the mark. In 2000, the World Club Cup was a one off, experimental tournament held while the real thing, the Intercontnental, was still in existence. That year, Madrid took the Tokyo affair against Boca Juniors, which they lost, very seriously. Also, if you remember, even though the 2000 tournament was simply a bit of fun in Brazil, Manchester United pulled out of the FA Cup in order to take part.

  • Comment number 56.

    A few points, Tim.

    Firstly, I'm not sure why you specifically identify the English as being disinterested (I'm not English....so not being defensive). Is there any real interest in the competition around Europe from fans in countries who are not represented......indeed from fans whose own team is not participating. Not much I would suggest.(and I think that TV coverage bears this out)

    Secondly, a key factor is the timing. The European representative is usually embrolied in another battle for their domestic title and the CWC is seen as an unnecessary distraction that carries little weight, certianly against the big prizes on offer.

    Thirdly, the format of the competition is farcical. Some teams have already been eliminated before the big guns even arrive. A couple of years back in Japan their was a New Zealand team in the finals. No disrespect but the gap in quality leaves a lot to be desired.

    Your article descends into comparing the European and South American representatives/approach and in a way this answers some of the question. That's really the only game that matters, the rest is just going through the motions. A return to the old format would solve this.

    As a Man Utd fan I don't rate the CWC trophy anywhere near winning the PL or other cup competitions. It's value pertains to what's required to win it and I'd suggest that that's a fairly common view.

    I said previously that if the CWC was a horse they'd shoot it.....and I've seen nothing since to change my mind.

  • Comment number 57.

    Waste of time. It's a sideshow that goes a long way to prove nothing.

  • Comment number 58.

    Is it really any wonder that Europeans don't take it seriously?

    I mean let's be honest, as a competition it pits the top team in Europe against some pretty shoddy outfits from the backwaters of world football. Only a Europe vs. South America match is ever going to be a challenge and that is hardly mouthwaters in itself when the South American team has usually sold most of it's top star from the previous season.

    With domestic leagues and European competitions so much more important it's no surprise that clubs see competing in tis competition as not only unnecessary but sometiems even a handicap to success on the stages that matter to their fans and owners.

    Being played 6 months after the final which qualified the European team disconnects it of any meaning, especially as the off-season seperates the two tournaments. Only including the winners mean that no other nation in Europe really cares about it, at least with the ECL there are always teams from all big leagues there.

    There are just so many reasons that it fails to work on any level. The only reason clubs from elsewhere even care about it is the chance to stick one over the Euros.

  • Comment number 59.

    I am impressed that some of the fans of Argentinean football who rant on every single week about how deluded English fans are have proved themselves to be just as delusional.

    For European teams their own domestic league is much more of a priority and also it isn’t a showcase for their players. Some Non-European team isn’t likely to make a massive offer for one of Inter Milan’s players.
    It is a nice trophy to win and players hate losing but at the moment there just doesn’t seem to be that much excitement about it from any non Inter fans.

    I will be watching it on television. It is always interesting seeing teams and players that you may have never heard of before.

    As a Forest fan, when I visited Montevideo I bought a Nacional shirt in remembrance of our defeat in 1981.

  • Comment number 60.

    Do you not think that the lack of European interest in the World Club competition could simply be due to the saturation of football we have in Europe? (I should add that I'm not best placed to comment on whether the situation is similar in parts of South America.)

    It is widely accepted that The Champions Leage has become absurdly bloated in its current format, with the early rounds acting as little more than a cash cow for UEFA and - to a lesser extent - the competing clubs. Add to that the fact that the competition takes place in the middle of a European season, when live coverage of games is almost 24/7.

    The other crucial factor is the nature of the relationship between S. American and European clubs. The European clubs are the rich elite who cherrypick the best young players from South America and bring them over here to make their millions. This leads not only to a little resentment from S. American fans, but also the creation of a significant underdog status when it comes to this competition. That sense of playing against the rich paymasters must surely make the competition a more vital prospect for fans of the S. American teams?

  • Comment number 61.

    I remember Mark Lawrenson talking about the 70s/80s/90s version of this trophy, the Intercontinental Cup, and he used the same language, that Liverpool just treated it as a holiday. They played Flamengo in Tokyo and Zico took Liverpool apart!

    When Man Utd beat LDU to win the 2008 version of the World Club Cup, the reaction in this country was to mock the tournament. I remember the media reaction in England. I clearly remember the comments in blogs and newspapers: "who are LDU? who are the Australian and Asian clubs taking part? They're nobodies." That was the general reaction, so I think Tim Vickery has a point. There is an arrogance in England in particular toward the rest of the world (a mentality that has cost us several failed World Cup bids) and this tournament has tended to bring it out.

    The first few national World Cups (1930, 1934, 1938) before the tournament gained its history were boycotted by England as we just didn't see the point of competing with inferior nations for some silly trophy that wasn't invented in England. The current status of the World Club Cup in many people's minds is similar to the early World Cup tournaments.

  • Comment number 62.

    Obvious reasons why Europeans aren't particularly bothered about the World Club Championship:

    1. Hosting the event seven months after the European Champions are crowned during busy following season in Europe doesn't help.
    2. Fans have already witnessed the dire non-exhibition of the pointless 'UEFA Super Cup' in August and in England the 'Community Shield'. South American sides are more more used to a disjointed football calendar with several leagues/cups played every year...often overlapping relegations etc.
    3. Football moves on so quickly in Europe that the Euro Champs are often fielding completely changed teams and managers.
    4. European football fans are so tribal in terms of only wanting success for their own teams and hate seeing competitors lording it up. The sides are so multi-cultural it isn't even a huge national achievement to win it.
    5. There's a certain level of arrogance and superiority shown by the Europeans which make the South Americans love to beat them thus take it more seriously.
    6. Hosting it so far away in non-footballing hotbeds like Tokyo or Abu-Dhabi away from true fans - just further emphasises it's purely money making roots.
    7. A competition with six 'also-rans' cannot work even if well intentioned.
    8. The British media and the BEEB focus so little attention on it that it fails to even catch the public conciousness.
    9. The concept of having a World Club Champion is good but it's current set-up needs a lot of work..maybe hosting it at the winners stadium might help and high ranking teams have to go there to snatch the crown from them? (a bit like champions in boxing)

    ...probably could go on and on.

  • Comment number 63.

    I for one can't understand some of the European teams lack of interest in this trophy. As a fan I look forward to it as a rare chance to see a South American team play. It would also be nice (and good for the game) If some of the larger Souh American clubs are able to keep hold of their stars a bit longer.

  • Comment number 64.

    It still feels to me like a friendly competition, mainly because the European and South American teams fly out, play one semi-final, then each other in the final a week or so later. It's too short and has too few teams in it - and of course, both these circumstances are a result of our bloated fixture calendar, and that's not going to change any time soon.

    There's also the whole problem of it being in Abu Dhabi, which is about as much a footballing heartland as is the Moon. Money talks, though, especially in the corridors of FIFA. (Allegedly).

  • Comment number 65.

    The World Club Cup has always been taken seriously in Spain. The apathy towards it in the UK, is just another part of the very insular football culture in Britain

  • Comment number 66.

    I find it hard to take seriously a competition designed to find the greatest club in the world. The very idea that one club is the "Greatest in the World" is preposterous. Not only this, but the winning team is very often one that takes the title two and a half years after starting their victorious domestic season.

    It has nothing to do with the 'insular football culture' of Britain. If that was the case, we'd have clubs made up of British players that were apathetic towards European competitions.

  • Comment number 67.

    Yossarian, How can anyone dispute the fact that British football is insular? For years England turned its nose up at the World Cup, believing that the Home Championship winner was the world champion (USA in 1950 put paid to that ridiculous notion). I could list other examples. The same ostrich attitude applies in this club tournament, the object of which is not to find the world's greatest club, in the same manner as the World Cup is not aimed at establishing the greatest footballing country. It is simply a tournament which brings together the continental winners and thus can legitimately crown a world club champion. Of course only supporters of the team taking part will be interested (except if they are English, of course). But by the same token, do you think a Boca Juniors or an Olimpia supporter in South America will get excited by Inter Milan-Internacional? The present format and the time of the year do nothing to promote the event. However, to say the clubs (England apart) do not care is simply wrong.

  • Comment number 68.

    Insular British football culture? The number of foreign players in the UK and the influence that they have had over the last 20 or so years shows that to be a lazy, poorly thought-out comment. And as Tim points out, it clearly isn't always taken seriously in Spain.

    Tim makes some very good points, and I'm surprised at much of the reaction here. Most of the counter-arguments are covered by what he has written and it seems that most people have run to the comments section without reading the article.

    As a football fan, I love any chance to see clubs in other countries play against European sides, but the truth is that money has drawn most of the best talent to Europe and after competing against many of these players to win the European Cup, the World Club is a bit underwhelming.

    As someone else said, there is a lot of football being shown these days that it can become a little too much when a competition isnt respected as much as the others that a club is competing for.

  • Comment number 69.


    Great article as always Tim. I'm not sure why the majority of the South American contingent on this forum are so offended that the Europeans are generally not interested in the World Club Cup. It would nice nice if the tournament had a bit more credibility but alas that's not the case and as a result the European teams are apathetic towards the event. South American football , although occasionally exciting is poor on quality. Journeymen and any kids with talent destined for European shores. Europe knows this and as a result why would the average European fan be excited about overcoming a substandard opponent in the middle of an exicting season. If a formidable opponent such as Flamengo '81 was the opposition then there would be a credible challenge.

    With regards to European teams 'plundering' the South American market. This is simple economics dictating this migration of players to the European market. With the Brazilian economy growing at the rate it is this trend could reverse in the future and then maybe if South American players stayed at home the World Club Cup may grow once more into the tournament it was intended to be. For now though , the economic power is in Europe , with no little shortage of talent as this years World Cup showed with three of the semi finalists being Spain , Holland and Germany - i.e. European powers.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think a lot of why it is not taken that seriously over here (by which I mean Europe in general not just Britain, as others on here have suggested) is that from the few games I have seen in it recently it has been fairly dull. United's victory along with Liverpool and Barcelona's (in 2006)defeats were really poor games and I was very dissapointed with the quality of the South American opposition. It was depressing to watch as Quito, Sao Paolo and Internacional all played to cotain thier more illustrious European opposition and hit them on the counter. Admittedly the tactic worked for two of them, but even still they came across looking short of ideas up front. I didn't see either the Barca-Estudiantes or Milan-Boca game, but the first sounds very much like it followed that format, where as the latter was an exciting game, maybe if the tournament began to throw up a few more of these it would attract more attention and plaudits.

    Added to this a competition earns prestige and pedigree through tradition and culture, this tournament seems to me very forced into the footballing schedule from the "powers that be" in the name of making money, rather than a more organic tournament developing for genuine desire to have a club world champion. And for that reason and the format being changed so often that it is hard to take overly serious it will never be the premier competition the title of it tries to ensinuate.

    Finally Tim, or anyone, If as you said players like Roberto Carlos cared so much for the competition and was trying to motivate the rest of the Madrid team for it, with football's globalisation is this something that will be happening more in European clubs? with South American, African or Asian imports wanting to win and persuading their European colleagues to do likewise. Do Milito, Cambiasso and Zanetti not have the same feelings towards the tournament as Carlos? or Messi atr Barca? I'm sure Man Utd's Park would have been extremely keen on the tournament, what with it being a much bigger deal in his part of the world.

  • Comment number 71.

    The question isn't why the South American contingent is offended by the European lack of interest. It is, why are some English football followers so narrow minded and why do they mistakenly believe that their insular attitude applies to the rest of Europe? The arguments put forward by some, dismissing the event and the opposition, simply confirm the accusations of insularity. Fortunately, not all of us are so self-centred. And let's not be naive. If the TV companies decided to sell the tournament to viewers attitudes would change pretty quickly. And sooner or later that will happen.

  • Comment number 72.

    Of course it doesn't help that there's no UK TV coverage of the World Club Cup again this year. Most football fans probably aren't even aware that it's taking place which is a shame.

  • Comment number 73.


    Pingo , it seem's you are unaware that English people have differing opinions on football matters. To bracket the 'English' as insular is rude in the extreme and indicative of your own ignorance !

    Your comment about the television companies is also naive. TV companies will sell anything that there is a market for. The fact it is not so well televised is that the market does not demand it. If it did the TV companies would make millions on the back of it.

  • Comment number 74.

    Lucas has been Liverpool's best player for some time. The majority of fans know he has deserved his place in the team for months.

  • Comment number 75.

    Lucas Leiva came to Liverpool with a reputation as a goalscoring midfielder and has suffered because of that. Maybe he hit a bit of a goal-scoring purple patch with Gremio and expectations were then a bit inflated? Anyway, what he does have is excellent touch, a very tidy short passing game and a great attitude. You can see his character in two ways....he doesn't seem to have been affected by the "support" that he has received from some fans and he always makes himself available to receive the ball. I really like the way that he always supports the man on the ball and helps the team to retain possession.

    It is unfortunate that so many fans don't understand what he is about and appreciate what he does for the team.

  • Comment number 76.

    How can you play a world club cup between two sides who in all probability did not even win their own country's league title....

    I would support a world club final if the clubs involved were there because they had won, firstly their own league title, secondly their own continental title and then entered the the world club title.

    If the world club title is to become anything but a junket for the players, clubs and media, then it has to be billed as the ultimate competition in the club sport.

    National league winners only in the continental competition.

    Continental winners only in the global finals and all continents represented.

    Anything other than this is just another joke event, designed solely to make cash for the governing body and its allegedly corrupt members...

  • Comment number 77.

    Robinhohoho, I suggest you learn how to read properly before you go on a childish rant. I said "some" English supporters, so your first comment is just inaccurate. And if you think TV companies cater for people's needs or requirements you probably believe in fairies. TV companies CREATE needs. The success of programmes such as Big Brother prove that. If TV companies wanted you to get excited over the World Club Championship you would be jumping up and down like a fool over the prospect of watching it.

  • Comment number 78.


    Pingo , I'm sure some Europeans are insular , some South Americans are insular and some English are insular. Therefore if misreading your first comment then you were certainly stating the obvious and why you constantly feel the need to reference such matters to the English when the debate is about Europe leads me to think you have a chip on your shoulder.

    We'll have to disagree about the TV market issue. TV doesn't determine peoples tastes , people choose which channel and what content to watch. Quite a lot of people have the ability to not watch such dross as big brother and instead put a documentary on. Despite what the TV companies may wish us to do we can choose not to watch what we don't wish to.

    Back to the main point of Tims blog and hwo nice it would be to have World Club Final played out between two massive teams each representing their continent. This won't happen any time soon but I'm sure every football fan dreams of South American club football growing into the force it once was. Maybe if that was the case then more South American teams would go back to their old style of passing football rather than the current style which trys to mirror the athleticism of the European game.

  • Comment number 79.

    Robinhohoho, The reference to the English supporters is due to the fact that continental Europe does not generally have the same dismissive attitude towards the World Club Championship. Italians and Spaniards are very proud of winning the Intercontinental or the World Club Championship (they do play down the importance of the tournament when they lose, however). Where do you fit having a chip on the shoulder in? It doesn't seem to make sense and appears to be a cheap and silly shot. Regarding the TV companies, as you say we will disagree. But I think the ratings prove there is something in what I say.

  • Comment number 80.

    Robinhohoho ..... don't quite understand your comment on the lack of TV coverage ("The fact it is not so well televised") .... it's on ESPN, which is the same channel that covers the German League, Serie A etc.

    And I think Pingo is right, we are a really insular race and we're far more apathetic to this competition than the rest of Europe - just look at the way Barca celebrated winning it last season.

  • Comment number 81.

    Hahaha. Sorry Tim, but you're fighting a losing battle on this one,

    Yes, you're right about th problems that turn the Europeans off from the competition - Most notably the lack of quality. How can you take a tournament seriously when you enter at the semi-final stage and only have to play one semi-serious game? It all means nothing.

    The fact it's held in mid-season is a problem too - The biggest trophies are handed out in May. That's just the way it is. Everyone knows it, and no one is going to get excited about a December trophy. There's more important things to come straight after!

    However, the biggest reason Europe doesn't take it seriously is because we haven't been fooled by it. We know exactly what it is - A FIFA money maker. Nothing more. It's a joke competition, and we're right to ignore it when a team that beat the likes of Chelsea, Barca & Bayern Munich only has to win one game to call themselves "World Champions". Ridiculous.

    I actually believe a changed format could change all this though. What do people think to this:

    * One tournament every 4 years involving all the champions of the different continents from those previous 4 years
    * Held in June a few weeks after the CL final, in years between World Cup and European Championship (Not sure how that fits with the American national team championships?)
    * All teams entering at a group phase, as was the case when UTD were hilariously eliminated in Brasil all those years ago (What a goal!)
    * A serious bidding process to take th tournament around the world..............erm, OK, maybe that's not such a good idea!

    With a collection of great teams from Europe & South America, and not being held in mid-season the tournament would be a surefire hit......Just perhaps not so popular with the players!

    P.S. Tim - Very disappointed. 2 weeks without the phrase "The Copa Libertadores - South America's Champions League" :-(

  • Comment number 82.

    If anyone doubts the English indifference to the World Club Cup, let me just state that despite being an avid football fan who would happily watch any quality game from anywhere in the world, I could not care less about who wins the World Club Cup. I have no interest whatsoever.

    As far as I'm concerned the Champions League winners are the only team in the world who are entitled to claim to be the best team in the world.

    That being said, if the World Club Cup started to improve and gain greater prestige, then I would be more than happy to get excited about it!

  • Comment number 83.

    Another interesting piece.

    As an Englishman living in Spain I was always amazed when I moved to Spain to see on my brother-in-laws wall a poster of Real Madrid winning the World Club Championship (or intercontinental cup or whatever it was called then) I looked at his poster and was amazed that he would even bother to put that poster up. He told me though that Real were World Champs. I couldn't even begin to care about such an idea as World Club Champions.

    It is a problem that people in Britain suffer from, I would also include the European Supercup in the same bag as the World Club Championship. We just don't care about them, does anyone know why?

    In Spain last year Barcelona were always talked about as having won 6 competitions in 1 year! But they include in that the equivalent of the Charity Shield, the Supercup and the World Club Champ; none of which I think of as a 'competition'!

  • Comment number 84.

    Contrary to what some people like "Pingo" are saying there isn't that much interest in the World club championship in places like Spain and Italy. Fans of the actual team that are in it do show more interest than probably fans of an English team would do but fans of other European teams are generally as unbothered as the English. Viewing figures on TV clearly reflect this.

    Pingo, what would Inter rather win - Serie A, Champions league or the world club championship?

    As for insular English people, have you not noticed the huge popularity of the Champions league? the love people have for skillful South American palyers etc etc?

  • Comment number 85.

    Tim,

    I'am supporter of SC Internacional who will play against Mazembe this afternoon (brazilian time). I lives in London for some years to study at the university and I am also an Arsenal Supporter.

    I know the Europeans doesn't deserve the same importance to the tournament, but I think it's rising year by year.

    I tried to watch Man Utd vs Arsenal yesterday and it was so boring. Try to watch Internacional vs Grêmio, The Porto Alegre Derby, or Flamengo vs Vasco, or São Paulo vs Palmeiras. It would be enthusistic... no 90 minutes of passes to the left or right.

    I can't understand why Wender does not look to Brazil. I could indicate abour 5 players who should play in the Arsenal first squad. Sagna, Fletcher, Clichy, Chamakh should study a lot to have a professional in Brazil, because They wouldn't be football players.

    Ok, about the issue. Everyone are talking in Brazil about the possible match between "interer's" (exist?) Because in this time, Inter-BRA are sure we can beat the italian side.

    It's very nice to read this kind of discussion at the BBC Website. It shows how de FIFA Club World Cup are rising.

    And the champion in 2000 was Boca Juniors. That's why the summer tournament hold in Brazil was not important. Only the "corintianos" considered the trophy.

  • Comment number 86.

    Dear Tim,

    Just for fun:
    I am a fan of FC Bruges, one of the better sides in Belgian football. However, we are having somewhat of a striker crisis this season. Is there anyone you would recommend from South America as a feasible potential transfer target for a club of that size?

    Oh, and if you'd know an experienced defensive midfielder, let us know as well :)

  • Comment number 87.

    Interesting article Tim. As always.

    Two points I would be interested to hear peoples opinions on. Both different but inversely related.

    "No doubt about it, the lack of competitive matches is not ideal. They will try to compensate by facing teams with different styles in friendlies but there is no substitute for competitive action"

    This is a really interesting point.

    Mainly because as an Englishman I see us struggle at every major tournament and even qualifiers against lesser teams and think what's happening.

    We play 8 H/A qualifiers against what can be sometimes silly opposition in the Euro. I think our group is quite tough this time with 3 other teams in top 50 WR and only Wales fails at 111. 2 places above Qatar.

    So really that's 6 Competitive games. No disrespect to Wales. What's more is that these are spread out over two years. SO starting from 2011 we will have 7 competitive games all next year. Assuming we come second in our group and go to play-offs.

    Then if we get to the Euros this time we will then have a definite 3 matches and if we get to the semis then 6. We probably won't get to the semis so that's four. Plus a possible 3 WC Q's in the later year.
    So 2012 = 7 Games

    We will then play 7 WC q's over 2013.

    Then play the world cup 2014. (If we get there)
    So that's roughly 7 games a year results going my way. 6 If we qualify first for the euros.

    Brazil will have two major tournaments. Although the Confed cup isn't really major.

    SO in 2011 that's 6 games and 5 games at the confed cup in 2013 assuming they get to the semis in both.
    Nothing in 2012

    So lets say ENG 14 - 11 BRA. It could be less for England. Brazil don't even have to go through rigourous qualifying. If they did like Argentina then they would have an extra 18 games with a possible extra 2 for play-offs.

    So if Argentina qualify for the Confed Cup this amounts to,

    Eng 14 Bra 11 Arg 29 (Not including play-off).

    I understand that these stats aren't really fair because I discounted the Wales games. Plus I guess you have to remember we are in a group of 5 rather than 6 for the Euro Q's.

    I think I have dragged my point but I don't think European teams get enough time to play together as a team when compared to other confederations. The confederation cup is also very important as it gives the team another competitive tournament where the team are away together.

    Should Fifa include runners up in the confed cup ? Obviously at risk of making the world cup less relevant.
    Should the Euros qualifying format be changed ? At the risk of some big European teams not making it to the world cup ?

    Fact is that if fans are worrying about Brazil not having enough competitive games then spare a thought for us Europeans who are playing a similar amount year in year out. European international teams are on the whole getting worse. If it wasn't for Barcelona then the Europeans at SA2010 would of been embarrassed. Holland were good too though. Still feel we were lucky to have an EU final.
    Oh and remember the Olympics. The medal Brazil hasn't yet won. The benefits of taking Olympic football seriously are massive. Brazil will blood the 2014 youngsters in during London 2012.

    Now about international club football. It would be awesome to see a similar thing to the champions league but global. The world club cup I think is seen as a lesser cup but bearing in mind European clubs are usually just getting to the nitty gritty of their season it's easy to see why. No one especially in the EPL wants to risk injury and upsetting training patterns with travel. The only benefit I can see in it is that you can end up a game in advance of everyone domestically.

    What would people think if the CL was held every two years with a similar worldwide equivalent replacing it ?

    I would love to see that although Tims blogs usually highlight the differing abilities in the domestic game between the continents. I for one think it would improve footballs global perception of the game as well as improving ability. It could even be arranged so the national teams had more time together.

  • Comment number 88.

    Threeofclubs, you are in fact agreeing with me. If you read back you will see that I have said it is probably only the supporters of the teams involved who are interested, both in Europe and in South America. However, I don't believe other supporters will dismiss the World Club Championship in the same way as they do in England. I originally said the main difference between S. America and Europe is on the street and in the media but that the clubs involved are just as eager to win as each other. I agree, Inter would prefer the Champions League or the Serie A, as would the South Americans prefer the Libertadores. But remember, to contest the World Club Championship you have to win the Champions League and the Libertadores, a demanding achievement, so the final between S. America and Europe is indeed a top event.

  • Comment number 89.

    ^ Woa didn't realise it was that long. Didn't mean a game in advance. Meant a game in hand.

  • Comment number 90.

    I'm sorry but this statement: "They did turn up when the format changed in 1980, and the game was played as a one-off in Japan, but never took it seriously. It was a mid-season jaunt to play a glorified exhibition match, a gentle run to give the Japanese an idea of what football was all about" is absolute nonsense. The English love to claim that their teams didn't care about the Intercontinental Cup to excuse their poor performances. But this was in the days when just about every player played in his native country (meaning the Argentine, Brazilian, and even Uruguayan leagues were much better than the leagues in Europe). Both sides knew that they were going against the best in the world (on neutral ground) for the world's most prestigious trophy.

    The English teams sent their best sides and usually were still walloped by the far superior South American teams. The 1981 Liverpool team that many rate as the greatest of all time was destroyed by Zico's Flamengo. The 1984 Liverpool team, considered by many to be one of the all time best teams, was soundly beaten by Bochini's Independiente (just as they beat the 1973 Juventus team, which many believe to be one of the all time best sides). The English need to realize that the only reason their league is the best in the world is that it's nothing but foreigners, and back in the days when you played in your own country's league, it was a step below several of the other leagues.

  • Comment number 91.

    90 - a few years back i did a tv programme with raul plassman, flamengo's keeper v liverpool in 1981.
    we chatted about the game and he told me - 'oh yes, we all knew that liverpool were there for a friendly, but it was obviously not in our interests to broadcast the fact.'

    i'm not defending this attitude on the part of liverpool in 81 - merely pointing out that it existed. i am hopeful that we are moving in the right direction with this cup, that little by little even the english will come on board.

  • Comment number 92.


    Dolcem , you state the below.

    'The English need to realize that the only reason their league is the best in the world is that it's nothing but foreigners, and back in the days when you played in your own country's league, it was a step below several of the other leagues.

    That comment is absolute rubbish , Gerrard , Lampard , Scholes , Cole , Terry etc etc are all English. Yes the Premier League has a huge number of foreign players , but it is the sheer number of different players with different styles which make it such a good spectacle. The English football public , by and large , embrace these players and are aware that this influx is responsible for the rise in standards of the Premier League.

    Back in the day when players played in their country of origin then I think you'll find the English club sides monopolised the European Cup until the Heysel ban. The English league certainly was not 'a step below other leagues' as you put it.

    Whether you like it or not the game is now global and most of the top players are plying their trade in England , Italy , Spain and Germany. Contrary to what you may think the English don't sit in front of a TV watching just the Premiership thinking that is where the football world starts and ends. For some of us this blog is a fantastic weekly insight into goings on in South America and I have been to see games including Flamengo , Vasco , Botafogo and Sao Paolo. A lot of my friends watch Italian , German and Spanish football and at a stretch the Russian highlights so I'd say the English are very knowledgeable followers of football. It's people like Docem and Pingo that foster the stereotype that all the English only love English football and hate anything else. Utter garbage !

  • Comment number 93.

    Tim, your comment about the Liverpool team of 81, if true, merely confirms what many of us have been saying about the English attitude. However, I can't imagine the Liverpool players going out in Tokyo for a stroll in the sun. If you knew anything about the Liverpool team of that time you would not question their commitment on the field. I stand by what I said, European clubs and players, English included, want to win and take the match seriously. Supporters in Europe are less passionate about it than in South America but are more interested than the English. And, by the way, Robinohoho, we've seen how good Lampard and Gerrard really are in various World Cups and European Championhips. Give up, man. You're beginning to sound rather funny.

  • Comment number 94.

    i think we english are a strange and contradictory bunch - the most insular mixed with the most curious - hard to shoehorn into any single stereotype

  • Comment number 95.


    Pingo , I was merely stating that some of the predominant performers in the Premier League are English , to disprove a point made by dolcem. However if you wish to question their performances for England I would totally agree with you. However , that's another point entirely as you well know. I'll let you get back to your burning of the English flag or whatever else you get up to in your bitter little world ;-)

  • Comment number 96.

    Tim, I disagree concerning Internacional-barca match; being a Gremio supporter I was expecting Barca to dominate that game and despite some mild possession, they did not control that game.

    Now, Eto and Messi did not play because of injuries. So, really, Inter had Alexandre Pato up front while Barca had Gudjhonsen; did anyone wonder why Barca could not score?! Yes, Pato was younger then and he did not score, but I remember him creating all sort of problems to Puyol and cia.

    I actually think this Internacional side is much less competitive. Not for the reasons you mentioned, but because they are weaker in the defense. That side that played Barca had very strong fullbacks while this side has more attacking minded ones. In the end, the European side is usually more talented, so the SA team cannot play attacking regardless of how good their players are. Ex: as good as D'alessandro can be, Sneijder is better and that applies to every position.

    Also, Internacional are Rotating the GK because they don't have a single good one to play. With Julio Cesar back from injury, that is yet another advantage Inter will have.

  • Comment number 97.

    European teams do take it seriously but not that seriously. Do you think that any one would play through an injury during it like they would in the champions league or their own league?

    It si just nowhere close to domestic leagues or the champion league. Absolutely nowhere near.

    The Europa league and domestic cups are taken seriously but nowhere near the importance of domestic leagues and the champion league.

    I fail to see why some people can't understand this?

    Highlights are on now on ESPN with a game to follow.

  • Comment number 98.


    Glad it's on ESPN as I'm keen to see what Guiliano is like.

  • Comment number 99.

    #85

    I remember the 2000 final, as this was "my era" and the last time i truly remember football being great. Although I still love the game, the nostalgia levels from around that time still gets me down.

    However my point about that final was that Juan Riqueleme was absoultely super human. It was one of the best individual performances I have seen. For this reason I believe the competition gives great exposure to a superstar we may not know too much about in Europe.

    In 2000 I learnt a great deal from the club world championship. I discovered the brilliant Alex Aguinaga. I also witnessed the genius of Edmundo, providing performances he never did in various spells in Europe.

    I'm in no doubt it is held in higher regard in SA, but wonder if that is because it is not only an achievement to win it, but to also beat a European team to win it.

  • Comment number 100.

    99 I think you're right. It generally means a lot more to the underdog.

    The european champions don't really have that much to gain from it.

    Australians tell me it is the same for the annual match for the champions of Australia and England in Rugby League. It means far more for the English clubs who tend to do a lot beer than te respective quality of the teams would suggest.

 

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