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The prestige of the Club World Cup

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Tim Vickery | 09:14 UK time, Monday, 15 December 2008

One of my regrets is that I arrived in Brazil too late - by more than a decade - to catch the great Flamengo team of the early 80s.

Spearheaded by Zico, with a supporting cast including Junior, Leandro, Mozer and Adillio, they gave weekly recitals of top-class football which are still remembered fondly by those lucky enough to be there.

Their finest hour came 27 years ago, when they beat Liverpool 3-0 in Tokyo in the first of the annual clashes held in Japan between the champions of Europe and South America. For them it was a huge occasion, for Liverpool it was a bit of a giggle.

Some years ago I did a round-table debate on Brazilian TV with Raul Plassman, Flamengo's keeper at the time. He told me that they were all aware that Liverpool were not treating the game particularly seriously, but that it was hardly in the interests of the Flamengo players to divulge the fact.

I don't think this takes anything away from Flamengo's achievement as all you can do is beat the opposition in front of you. If they are not motivated by the prospect of facing the champions of South America, the problem is theirs.

That match has now grown into the FIFA Club World Cup, with all the continents represented. The Europeans take it a bit more seriously now - playing a game in Japan is no longer seen as a strange thing to do.

But there's a sense in which the European clubs are more concerned with increasing their 'brand awareness' among Asian consumers than with winning the title. This competition is nowhere near being seen as the absolute highlight of the club calendar, as it is in South America.

From the South American perspective, the fact that the old one-off match against the European champions has now gone increases its' prestige still further. But it carries a risk. Now there is no guaranteed crack at the winners of the Champions League. There is a semi-final to be negotiated first.

So far, in the three versions of this competition, the South American side has got through to the final. But it has never been easy. There has been a sequence of narrow, nervy victories and there will come a year when the champions of the Copa Libertadores fail to make it through to the final - and there is a distinct possibility that this could be the year.

Liga of Quito celebrate winning the 2008 Libertadores

LDU, or Liga of Quito, were worthy winners of the 2008 Libertadores. But the first Ecuadorian side to win the trophy are by no means the most distinguished champions in the competition's 49 year history. The facts speak for themselves; of the eight games in the knockout rounds they won just two. They won the quarter-final and the final on penalties, and got through the semi-final on away goals. And since then they have lost two key players.

If the lung power of Paraguayan midfielder Enrique Vera was fundamental to the team, Joffre Guerron was irreplaceable. He was a one-man right flank, undressing defence after defence with his pace and power. But he is now in Spain with Getafe and Vera is in Mexico with America. LDU are not the same side without them and in a South American cup match in September they lost 4-0 to Boca Juniors' reserves.

They are also up against dangerous and attractive semi-final opposition on Wednesday when they take on Pachuca of Mexico, the champions of the Concacaf region. Many fans around the world are unaware of the strength of the domestic Mexican game.

Since 1998 Mexican clubs have been invited to take part in South America's Copa Libertadores. They have met teams from Ecuador on 12 occasions. The breakdown is as follows - eight wins for the Mexicans, four draws and zero wins for Ecuador - though this year LDU did get eliminate America of Mexico on away goals after two draws.

Part of the strength of the Mexican game is that the league is rich enough to buy in some good players from South America. The Pachuca side provides ample evidence; their pretty passing football has an Argentine flavour, hardly surprising as Cristian Gimenez, hero of Saturday's 4-2 win over Al-Alhy, was once seen as a genuine wonderkid at Boca Juniors.

Damian Alvarez could not quite make the grade at River Plate but has flashes of talent and Bruno Marioni is a left-footed striker of pedigree. In addition to the Argentine contingent, Julio 'Robocop' Manzur is a typically rugged Paraguayan centre-back. Vastly experienced keeper and team captain Miguel Calero has 50 caps for Colombia. And on the bench is rangy Brazilian striker Cristian.

Pachuca start Wednesday's semi-final as favourites. And whether they or LDU make it through, there will be a South American presence in Sunday's final of the Club World Cup.

Please send your comments on this week's piece using the space provided below. Any other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag;

My question is with regards to a certain Kerlon Moura Souza (Kerlon). I know he's at Cheivo Verona, but he's only made one appearance so far this season. Has he not adapted to the Italian game or has he picked up injuries since moving?
David Loxham

He was picking up injuries long before he moved to Chievo. Kerlon was the star of the show in the 2005 South American Under-17s. He was top scorer and top man in a Brazil side that included the likes of Anderson, Marcelo, Denilson and Renato Augusto. Then came an ankle injury and two serious knee injuries and he left Cruzeiro to join Chievo without having come close to establishing himself as a senior first team player.
The goals he was banging in at Under-17 level were coming in all shapes and sizes - free kicks, combination play, shots from range, outpacing the defence. It all got overshadowed, though, by his own invention, the remarkable 'seal dribble,' where he lifts the ball up to his forehead and runs while balancing it there. It's a fantastic thing, but it might have proved counter-productive - it's something that needs to be used sparingly, and at the right moment - for example on the edge of the area, rather than for showboating on the touchline.
He's 21 next month. Here's hoping it's not too late for him to regain the momentum of 2005.

My family are from the Bahia region of Brazil. I went to visit them recently and when I was there I went to watch Vitória and a player called Marquinhos had a great game. His dribbling was outstanding, drifting in from the right wing he was a joy to watch. Could you tell me a little bit about him? How old is he? From the game i saw he looks like a flair player.
Tom Leaver

A good piece of scouting! Marquinhos was one of the real revelations of this year's Brazilian Championship - jitterbug figure, lithe dribbling skills and he scored eight goals in the competition. Whenever I saw him he was cutting across on the diagonal from the left - terrific if he could pick up possession on his right foot, not so good on the left.
Your family will have to get by without him now, because he's moving south to Sao Paulo to join Palmeiras. He's 19, and should be one to look out for next month in the South American Under-20s.


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  • Comment number 1.

    i just cant wait for the U-20 championship...Tim, u have any idea on any players who look destined to be selcted for the tournament?

  • Comment number 2.

    Top article as always. Best written article on BBC and Phil McNulty doesn't come close

  • Comment number 3.

    More great insights into the South American game there Tim?!

    Do you not see the FIFA World Club Cup going anywhere but back to Europe then this year Tim??? are the Ecuadorians, LDU, just not strong enough, now especially with losing two of their best palyers, to pose any real threat to Man U, unlike the South American representatives of late have done??

    I have also noticed myself of late that the Mexican teams seem to be doing rather well and producing some players of great quality i.e. Guardado, Vela, etc, that are beginning to make the step over the pond to Europe. I particularly like the footbal that the Mexican national team play, I enjoy the easy on the eye of it and how flowing it is at times, for me personally Mexico were one of the better teams in the World Cup and I felt that they were extremely unlucky to lose to Argentina as they were fantasic that night.
    Surely its only a matter of time before a Mexican team brings home the Copa Libertadores?! but i feel as it may be a long while before the Mexican national team actually challenges for a Copa America title?!

    Keep Up the Good Work Tim

  • Comment number 4.

    It is hard for a European team to fully commit to such a competition when they have to play 60 games a year against opposition who all have the quality to win the South American Liberetadores.

    The only way such a fixture will be deemed important to European teams is when the European Champions League ecomes the Worldwide Champions League but that isn't going to happen any time soon.

    Anyway, it is nice to see the smaller nations have a chance to play European opposition in what is regarded as a competitive match by FIFA.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great column, as always. The BBC sport site needs more stuff on football from outside the British Isles IMO.

  • Comment number 6.


    are you high

    "60 games against teams who all have the quality to win the Copa Liberetadores"

    either you have no idea re the quality in South America, or you look at the top 4 or 5 in the EPL and think that is the standard.

    No offence to fans of west Brom, stoke, fulham, bolton, blackburn, sunderland etc etc, but these teams would not complete at the highest levels in SA. They may survive in the top leagues in Brazil and Argentina, but the skill level is just not there.

    Can i just remind you that the SA clubs have been winning the game between the continents more often than not recently, Sao Paulo beat Liverpool for example.

    Maybe you need to do a little bit of study into world football and stop believing the sun and news of the world, in there EPL miles better than everybody etc etc.

  • Comment number 7.


    You think all European teams have the quality to win the Copa Santander Libertadores? You cannot be serious!

    There are so many variables that make the Copa Libertadores a very difficult tournamente to win for any team. You have to play in high altitude cities, travelling can be exhausting (one game in Argentina then next in Mexico) and the exodus of so many players to Europe make it an equeal playing field for the majority of participants.

  • Comment number 8.

    Just one axample: Inter won the Cup in 2006 and the next year it was eliminated in the group satges.

  • Comment number 9.

    The quality in SA is not as high s some of you believe, and the qulaity in the EPL is now higher than people believe.

    The SA teams hae been doing better because the European teams do not put a big effort into the competition in Japan.

    I believe that all in the EPL stand a chance of outplaying any team from South America. They are too fast, too strong and don't give the South American style of play anytime on tha ball, which is what makes them look better than they actually are.

  • Comment number 10.

    Does anyone know if the BBC is showing coverage of these games?

  • Comment number 11.

    As a MUFC fan, I like the general idea of the CWC and think that the current format is an improvement on the Brazil centred farce we got caught up in in Jan 2000. I watched Liverpool's games in '05 and tried to keep an eye on Barca and AC Milan's efforts in '06 and '07.

    I do think the format could be finetuned slightly(hell, the structure of world football could be finetuned - with Australia having defected, the AFC and OFC should really be merged).

    What I'd like to happen for future CWCs would actually involve European teams having to play three matches to win the competition.

    Six continental champions
    Runners up from the two continents that supplied the previous year's finalists.

    In short, Chelsea and Fluminese would have joined the party this year.

    Straight knockout tournament, please no automatic qualifying spot for the hosts!

    As for this year's tournament, well pardon my bias, but I can't see how United won't win it. Gambia Osaka and Pachuca look like they would both be capable of giving us a match but there's no way in hell they'd actually beat us.

    LDS Quito, as Tim says, are a relatively weak team and I'm not dead cert they'll even make the final!

    Only thing that will stop United is jet lag(a la Barca in '06).

  • Comment number 12.

    Mighty Morf,

    another example of a media-brain-washed fool who believes that the EPL is superior to any other leaugue in the world...may God have mercy on your soul kid!

    skill and intelligence will always prevail over power, accept it! the EPL is a good league, but at times so pathetic, eg. people being awed by delap's throw-ins...what kind of idiocracy is that?

    if euro teams didnt put an effort in the CWC, why do they bother sending their strongest teams? and i think u got something mixed up too...the quality in the EPL is not as high as you believe, whilst Latin America has a lot more to offer than most people think!

  • Comment number 13.

    As brazilian, I can tell you! Even the EPL top 4 would have big troubles in Brazil..
    Brazilian league is so strong that is common to see big team, as Corinthians, Vasco (relegated this year), Palmeiras, Gremio, etc been relegated!
    All this teams have won Libertadores and some of them have won the clubs world cup.
    Brazilian league is too stong for you guys.. believe me!
    When the european clubs win you guys says is because they are simple the best.. if they lose is because they dont take it seriously.. what a joke!

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm surprised that you did not find space to comment on the finale of Apertura 2008 in Argentina. 3 teams finished level on points and since goal difference is not used in deciding the champions, a triangular playoff between San Lorenzo, Boca Juniors and minnows Club Atlético Tigre will be played over the next week. This will be the first "triple desempate" since Nacional 1968.

    Another incredible development is the fact that River Plate who were champions last season finished bottom of the table in 20th place for the first time in their 107 year history. This is as unimaginable in Argentina as Rangers finishing bottom of the SPL or Barcelona finishing bottom of La Liga.

    As for the arrogant Man Utd fans claiming that the CWC will be a walkover, perhaps they beleive that it will be just as uncompetitive as their Euro Supercup game against Zenit St Petersberg?

  • Comment number 15.


    Though i think you over egg it a little, your point is quite right. Don't get annoyed by the brain washed/ignorant fools you to often seen these boards.

    The only prob you guys have is keeping the players, and as such top for top i think the European teams would win overall.

    i think man u and chelsea would do very well in any SA league, apart from not i am not so sure, the same applies for the very top teams in spain and maybe Inter Milan, but Italian league is vastly over-rated at the mo, and poor showing in Champions league last year especially shows.

  • Comment number 16.

    sorry morf i think you are vastly overstating the ability of the bottom and middle of the premier league.

    on what basis can you say that west brom or west ham are at a level where they could win the copa libertadores?

    consider the impact that 2 unknown players from honduras and ecuador have made at wigan athletic in the last 18 months.

    and if you want to make a point about the weakness of a foreign as opposed to the premier league, its only fair to mention the reasons why. and the reason is money.

  • Comment number 17.


    did you happen to see graeme souness on skysports last week talking about the Flamengo - Liverpool game in 1983?

    typical souness, dismissed the whole idea of the intercontinental cup/CWC. only mentioned it as an entre to some tedious after dinner style anecdote about how him and dalglish left their hotel rooms at 3am to go on the driving range. he didnt once mention the 3-0 score, or the opponents, several of whom had also made he and hansen and dalglish etc look equally stupid in the world cup game the year before.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great article, it will be Pachuca who win it im a utd fan but just cant see how we can go and take this serious enough to win it.Not that its not important its just that we are in the tricky part of a tough season and when you add in the travel factor etc.
    i feel fergy will see it as a bit of a break for the players and will use the full squad,

  • Comment number 19.


    There is no Auntie Beeb coverage of this tournament on TV. The only UK coverage is of Manchester United's semi final on Thursday and the final itself on Sunday, both of which are on Five.

    Both programmes start at 10.20am and kick off is 10.30am. (though quite what they'd do if United didn't make the final.......)

    Not sure if I am allowed to post this being it promotes a rival station but anyway, it is info that is requested.

  • Comment number 20.

    I don't understand why some United fans couldn't care less about this tournament. Sure, it has come at an odd time of the year, and will probably mean we are a few more points off Chelsea and Liverpool by the time we play Stoke. But its the Club World Cup! You only get a shot at this by being European Champions in the first place. So come on, surely its worth winning just to say we are Champions of the World...

    Surprises can happen in this competition. These teams present a different challenge to the usual routine of the Premier League. However, I think Sir Alex is taking this one seriously. He has chosen a very strong side to take to Japan, and while he may choose to blood a couple of youngsters in these games, I believe the core of team will not be comprimised and should be strong enough to deal with the opposition. It would be very foolish to underestimate what this tournament means to the other clubs involved, as mentioned in your article Tim (very good by the way). But what a confidence booster it would be, to come back to Old Trafford ready for 2009 and the league's run-in as World Champions...

    Just a quick question though: Does anyone know if these games are to be aired on telly?
    Come on United!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    Quick correction of my own error - the Liverpool -Flamengo game in 81 was not the first of the annal Europe v South America games in Japan - it was the second.

    Forest were there the year before when they lost 1-0 to Nacional - shouldn't have slipped up on that one - vividly remember being a paper boy at the time and wandering through the streets reading other peoples' papers on the Forest-Nacional game.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Tim,
    I have to agree with post #14, why is there no mention to what is going on in Argentina right now? Im sure you have discussed the World Club Cup before on your blog as well, and the Apertura is really heated up! Who do you think will win the triangular tournament??
    Also, do you think it is fair they didnt separate the teams on goal difference? I certainly don't that would have meant San Lorenzo would have won and not my beloved Boquita...also this makes a much more exciting and entertaining show, which is what football is about at the end of the day.

  • Comment number 23.

    Re United's approach - i can't believe Ferguson won't want to compete- there's a line from his autobiography that I like - for a player every game is a statement of his worth.

    Surely this should apply all the more with the world title at stake.

    Assuming United get through Gamba Osaka (I didn't see their game against Adelaide so don't know much about them), I would certainly expect United to beat either Pachuca or LDU.

    Neither are particurarly tight defensively. Now that the imbalance of individual talent is so great (ie the European teams have the top players from all over the world), the history of this tournament has shown the following - if the other teams are to have a chance against the Europeans their best chance is to defend well, squeeze the space and try to launch a decisive counter.

    It was how Sao Paulo (hanging on for grim life) managed to beat Liverpool in 2005, and Internacional (on the back foot but a bit more comfortable) got past Barcelona in 2006.

    Last year when Boca Juniors went out to take on Milan as equals they were (thoroughly predictably) utterly unable to cope with Kaka.

    Assuming United are in the final, I'd expect them to have too much tempo, too many options, too much skill for either Pachuca or LDU - both sides who give you space to play.

  • Comment number 24.

    APologies if i seem bias but in 2005 we absolutely annihialted Sao Paolo in that final. The only thing we didnt do was score a goal. I think we had several attempts ruled out though, i do believe we scored a couple of goals but both ruled out for offisde or something. However, SP only had one shot and scored one goal.

  • Comment number 25.


    as tim has said above and previously, it is how the teams go about the game and who wins in the end.

    Sao Paulo had a game plan, stuck to it and got their rewards. Yes liverpool dominated, but in effect (as we have at home in the EPL this season) they could not break the other team down. I have little doubt that if Sao Paulo had come out and played attacking football, liverpool would have beat them. However Liverpool struggle against defensive teams (Stoke, Fulham, West Ham, this season already and that is just at home).

    I think Man U however have to much going forward, especially if it is as tim says and the SA teams like to attack.

    frankly, you can kill a team for 89 mins, but if you don't score and the other team does, who cares. Maybe in that way, SA teams are more able to adapt and play to a plan, whereas teams like Liverpool play one way, and if it fails they can’t change. I would also add Chelsea and Arsenal in to that from an EPL point of view.

  • Comment number 26.

    >As for the arrogant Man Utd fans claiming that the CWC will be a walkover, perhaps they beleive that it will be just as uncompetitive as their Euro Supercup game against Zenit St Petersberg?

    We were completely useless vs Zenit admittedly, and I'm not ruling out the possibility of a similar off-night in Japan, hence my mentioning of jetlag which was what did Barca in.

  • Comment number 27.

    Has anyone got any idea whether it's even possible to watch these games in England?

  • Comment number 28.

    I thionk Setanta are showing uniteds game on thursday! and if they are I'd assume they are showing the final aswell! Come on United! and for those who aren't taking it seriously i cant understand why as it is another string to the huge bow of United!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    As mentioned earlier - Five are screening United's games.

  • Comment number 30.

    The games will be shown on Five.

  • Comment number 31.

    perhaps tim is best to answer this one..

    I would have thought the teams in the premiership would generally be expected to beat teams in south america. Due to the fact that Europe has almost all of the worlds top senior players and lots of these players play in the premiership. By the looks of things im wrong.

    So how actually do South american teams compare to Teams in the premiership, regardless of the CWC?

  • Comment number 32.

    Great article as always Tim, it's always a pleasure to read.

    Quick question Tim,
    Valencia have recently signed a brazilian left-back from santos called thiago carleto, can you quickly tell me how good he is please?


  • Comment number 33.

    I don't mean to be a WUM but to everyone saying the EPL isn't as strong as some people like to think how is it not?

    The best teams in england are better than any of the best teams in Europe Last year proved that in the CL United Beat Roma Arsenal Beat AC Milan at the San Siro. Liverpool beat Inter. Then United beat Barca chelsea beat sevilla so how is this not proof that the EPL is not the strongest League in Europe add to that 2 English Teams in the Final 3 in the Semi Finals ? What Country in europe has a stronger league Looks at portsmouth playing AC milan they were 2-0 up and in the end drew 2-2 again please tell me what league is better than the EPL? cus ild like to know i think people like to be profound and go against the grain and the facts. Im not gonna make myself look stupid and say i know about the SA leagues cus i know nothing watch the odd game and they look very very good but to write the EPL of is just stupid there class right the way through out the league I would like to see any team come the the EPL and see how they Fair not very well i dont think.

  • Comment number 34.

    What do you think of Andersons progress? Do you think he will ever score his first goal and why cannot he shoot? Very un-Brazilian like.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm a Pachuca FC supporter, and i want to share some facts:

    1. Pachuca it's the first mexican side to win a south america (CONMEBOL) title (Cruz Azul and America almost do it in Libertadores and Sudamericana)...

    2. It's the first mexican team in winning their continental FA title two times in a row (north america CONCACAF champions)...

    3. It's the first mexican side to going to compete to the Club Worl Cup two consecutive years (last year we lost against Etoile du Sahel from Tunicia)...

    4. and if story is right, it's the first Mexican football club ever created (by people from UK who came to work in mining, circa 1900)...


  • Comment number 36.

    What football needs is a 'Super Bowl' of it's own just like what the Americans have done with their gridiron game.

    Rightly or wrongly, most Americans would equate the Super Bowl with the World Cup Final.. and I cannot say that I blame them for thinking so.

    Although the CL Final is certainly a big event, it is however simply not regarded in the same way how Americans view the Super Bowl, even among European football fans.

    The Super Bowl, by comparison, has undoubtedly become an American institution and what I really hope to see is that one day the CWC Final too would become a similar institution among football fans worldwide as the Super Bowl is in America.

  • Comment number 37.

    SAF's scouts and scouting team must be the best in the world!!! I mean what must he of actually said to them

    "find me a Brazilian that cant actually shoot!"

    i mean I thort it was a given that all Brazilians could shoot, I mean even the GoalKeepers are well known for their shooting, be it either Free Kicks or Penalties?! haha

    I mean dont get me wrong, im a neutral, and even I think Anderson is a Class Act, i mean hes quick, agile, built like a preverbial you know what, strong as an Ox(u wont knock him off the ball, and on top of all that the boy can pass, I mean he dont half ping an inch perfect ball, but he just cant shoot???? HOW?! That goes against all that is Brazilian!

    even Man U's right back, Rafael, can ping a ball?!

    So Tim, im with 'gunner-zp', giv us a lil insight in to it?! was he decent at shooting back in his homeland??? or is that just not his game, do you think it could be a lil stage fright in a way???

  • Comment number 38.

    How can the 'SuperBowl' be equated anywhere near to the World Cup???????

    fact of the matter is, that only 1 country contests it!!!!!! America

    its like they have a World Series in Baseball!!!! HOW?????? They are the only nation to compete in it?!

    Just because the americans think it is big and the be all and end all of sport, doesnt make it so?!

    That Vastly undermines the World Cup to compare the two?!

    to be honest the Champions League Final and possible the FA Cup are as big if not bigger than the SuperBowl, as they are both show in more countrys to a bigger audience, and it will translate more as it is played, and loved, by more countries, than American Football is?!

    It seems you are blinded by all of the raz-a-ma-taz of the whole thing and the spectacle they make of it with the daft half-time show thing?!

    I suggest that the worldwide viewing figures would be a lot higher for the CL & FA Cup. As only really most of America tunes in to watch the SuperBowl, which makes it seem massive viewing figures alone.

  • Comment number 39.

    It's true that the CWC is tough for European teams because in mid-December they're half way through their seasons while most South American leagues are already over. But I dislike it when European fans make it sound like their teams go to Japan only to have good sushi. If the CWC isn't important yet it should be. And will become even more so. So the European fans should start looking beyond the sushi and focus on the football. I think players already do.

  • Comment number 40.


    I hope I'm correct in saying this but Anderson is not really known as a goal scoring midfielder. Yes, he can pass, has pace, strength, and can tackle but not goals. Although I read once that he scored a very important goal for Gremio, his first club, which took them into Brazil's top flight. But while at Porto, I'm pretty sure he wasn't known for scoring lots of goals. Having said that, I really want to see him get off the mark for us! At least 1 pls Ando!

    I think when he does eventually score the Old Trafford faithful will go mad! And the Stretford End will be in full voice singing about how he s#*%'s on Fabregas... Love that song!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    "The Prestige of the Club World Cup"


  • Comment number 42.

    There are always anti-english people on these blogs and forums.

    The EPL is easily the best league in the world and virtually every professional except Blatter and Plantini openly recognise that. So if some of the posters here think I a,m going to take their word over the Pro's and what I see with my own eyes then they are the ones who are "smoking something" as one of them not so elegantly put it.

    When Italy had 2 teams in the Champions League final, Serie A was hailed as the best. When Spain had 2 teams in the final La Liga was hailed as the best. now for the past 2 seasons 75% of the teams in the Semi-Final and the past 2 years at least one English team made the final but the EPL is still not a very good league?

    Hypocracy! True colours shown! the EPL is the toughest, fastest, most physical and entertaining league in football. If some are not wiling to accept that then by all means, continue watching the bore-fest known as La Liga and Serie A. Seriously, the El Classico the other night.... that is the highlight of the season? Well, it is all explained when there is only 1 decent team in the league and that is Barcelona who last year showed the Spainsh domestic game is now rendered obscelete by the English game.

    (Oh, and suprise, suprise.... all 4 English clubs are passed the Group Stages this year.... yet again!)

  • Comment number 43.

    EDIT: Wouldn't call Blatter a Pro come to think about it.

  • Comment number 44.

    Having been held up at gunpoint in Salvador (de Bahia), on returning to this city and having to wait 4 or 5 days for someone to arrive, I watched football, rather than risk guns again. I was impressed. Brazilian league football is of a very high standard.

    By the way, the gunmen were morons. they wanted my car and money. I told them I didn't have any money, meaning Brazilian money, and said I didn't understand when they asked for the car keys. The word is the same in Spanish and Portuguese (Llaves). The keys were in the ignition!!! The morons left after what seemed like an age, but probably only 5 mins or so, empty handed.

    The superbowl is the biggest sporting event in USA. The winners of their championships, (American) Football, (Ice) Hockey, Basketball and baseball, call themselves WORLD champions, but no other country competes. Suffice to say, they didn't do too well in the baseball game a couple of years ago, when Japan won. However their basketball team is usally good enough to be world champions. They pretty much dominate the Olympics, and everyone takes those games seriously. (except the USA in Athens).

    If they take it seriously, I can't see Man. U. not winning. However it comes at favourable time for s. American teams and a bad time for European teams. Tevez to add to his already COMPLETE set of medals. Does any world player have a more complete set of medals? EPL, CL, C. Libatadores, CWC, and evrything that Argentina has to offer plus Olympic gold.

  • Comment number 45.

    Just received this e-mail from someone too cowardly to leave his name - all I've got is an e-mail

    He's short and to the point;

    "A little geography lesson. Mexico is not in South America, idiot."

    Thought I'd share my response, because I know a lot of people are confused on this one;

    "A little reading comprehension lesson;

    I made it quite clear that Pachuca are representing the Concacaf region.
    I made it quite clear that Mexican clubs are invited into South America's Copa Libertadores.
    I made it quite clear that one of the reasons for the strength of domestic Mexican football is that it imports good players from South America - and that Pachuca are an example of this trend.

    Please explain to me where I have said that Mexico is in South America."

  • Comment number 46.


    Lovely comeback there Vickery :D

    great blog as usual mate

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.


    isn't that a bit petty and unprofessional posting the poor deluded souls email address on a public blog?

    Funny, yes. Professional, probably not

  • Comment number 49.

    Tim, your article was crystal clear. The problem is that a lot of people only have a limited attention span or the ability to concentrate for no more than 30 seconds which is why TV commercials do not usually last longer than this.

    It is true that the European Clubs do not take the CWC very seriously but the fact that even you forgot about the inaugral match proves the point that we are not that interested over here. I did not even realise Forest had played in the match you mentioned but I remember their EC victory vividly. Same applies to all the Liverpool wins as well but I never saw them playing in the CWC probably because of the time the matches in Japan are shown. I was in Argentina a few years back when Boca Juniors won and they took it all very seriously. Several people I was with that day came in late to work as the the match was televised live around 9am.

    As for the Yanks - try explaining to them how much money is sloshing around in cricket and that it is one of the most popular sports in the world (in terms of participants) and is actually played by more than one country and they give you a blank look. The day the Super Bowl reaches the same level of kudos and international appeal as the World Cup Finals is the day I stop watching sports.

    Tim, I know you have to be polite when responding but to be called an idiot by an idiot must be a tad galling. Keep up the good work - your blogs are very informative for me as they are about a region of the world we do not get to hear about enough. I have been all over Mexico and SA so I have an idea of just how important, strong and serious soccer is in the region.

    Regards, Joe.

  • Comment number 50.

    Hello Tim, Thoroughly interesting Blog as always.

    I've been wary about posting on these boards because these debates almost seem to always turn into either nationalism or league bashing. Every youtube video of highlights between two teams from one of the top leagues is nearly always full of this sort of thing. Strange how football brings this attitude out of people. Why is it cool to watch film's from other countries, but not football?

    On topic however, Personally I think this is a great competition, and the whole travelling to Japan and becoming tired is blown out of proportion. It seems strange that people seem to be more skeptical about the Club World Cup than say the League Cup. I mean it's only a couple of games after all. And I think too many pundits put words in players and managers mouths. Like you say Tim, I think Ferguson will take this seriously, just like Ancelotti (and Maldini, the only tournament he hadn't won!) did last year.

    "Many fans around the world are unaware of the strength of the domestic Mexican game". I used to always think that the Mexican National Team have overachieved in the World Cup, but maybe it's the other way around. With a population of 106 million and lots of money, do you think that the league will become stronger and stronger or do you think it will always suffer simply because it part of the Concacaf region?

    Also, on the subject of Kerlon (or Foquinha), I believe he is fit, as he came on as a substitute a little while ago against Lazio. But Chievo are struggling and it's probably not an easy situation for him to come into. Also, it is rumoured that Internazionale had a hand in signing Kerlon and they might have first option. But he'll be much better off on loan to perhaps a more attacking league like Portugal or maybe back to Brazil.

    There is also a player I'd like to ask about. Felipe Melo of Fiorentina. Everytime I've seen him he looks class. To me he would seem a better alternative to Gilberto Silva as not only can he sit but he's also got a range of skills and passing. Maybe he has a chance as Dunga used to play for Fiorentina but or is he just one of those players that is off the radar in Brazil (like Alfonso Alves and Amauri)?

    Cheers, Keep up the good work. (and great 4 hour phone in the other night!)

  • Comment number 51.

    Just read #47 by 555foot. The simple truth is that just as the WC was not taken that seriously at first by many European countries so the CWC has not been taken that seriously by European Clubs.

    The only reason for Italy's triumphs are the political muscle and clout exerted by Mussolini's party and we all know how long it took England to get involved! The Football Museum in Preston (inside the stands of the club ground) has an excellent section dedicated to the particular subject and it is well worth a visit.

    Anyway, as with the WC European Clubs are now beginning to take the CWC more seriously but it will take a while longer before it takes on the same level of importance as the EC and other such competitions. Frankly, if they played the games somewhere neutral like Luxembourg so they could be seen at a sensible time of day we would all show more interest.

    Regards, Joe.

  • Comment number 52.


  • Comment number 53.

    Wonderful blog Tim, top notch!

    I support Gremio from Porto Alegre who won the WCC in 1983 against Hamburg (with ball possession cause Brazilian stars still played in Brazil) and lost in PKs against Ajax in 1995 (didn’t lose the game though). Yes, it’s all about the defense, but really I ask you to point out a recent former CL champions with bad defense/defenders.
    Another interesting thing about Brazilian and South American soccer is exactly that, there are too many styles and differences in SA to put them all in the same category. Brazilian soccer for example, is more direct where every player dribbles and has or is expected to have the ability to score (a DM scored against Liverpool – nice finishing btw). Argentine teams usually tend to play more like the Europeans (and EPL) and keep ball possession a lot more.

    I watched Ronaldinho come into the scene (and actually played – for fun -- with him a couple of times – just thought I should mention it :) ) and he played as a second forwarder for Gremio (IMO his best position – don’t really like his current play in the dead zone). Then I watched Anderson come into the scene when Gremio (a notorious first division club) dropped and was then playing second division (with a very sub par team).

    Anderson was being played as an Attacking Midfielder and scored many goals bringing Gremio back to top flight (we’ve been between 2nd-6th place in the league ever since). Anderson was actually a very prolific scorer; now why doesn’t he score for Man United? Simple, SAF plays him way too deep! Anderson’s got so many AMs in front of him that for him to get near the goal would take a miracle (he could for example play in Nani’s position). Plus his current position CMF/DM demands other skills which he has been concentrating on such as awareness, marking, physical, mental, decisions, and he hasn’t had the space/time to show his flair. Unfortunately, as a Brazilian, I feel we have lost Anderson the AM, as he has become a CMF/DM for the foreseeable future (first by Porto and then SAF). Anyway he plays for United and that's what United need (Anderson had to adapt to United’s needs not the other way around).


  • Comment number 54.

    Those of you who are scoffing at Pachuca, do so at your own risk.

    (Disclosure: I'm a Yank. But I am also very much a football fan -- and I don't mean just gridiron. I'm also a supporter of my domestic league, Major League Soccer -- make of that what you will as well.)

    In the last few years, I have frequently had the opportunity to see the Tuzos (that's Pachuca's nickname, btw) play, in CONCACAF (Champions Cup, Champions League, and SuperLiga) and in the Mexican Primera Division.

    They play an effective attacking style of football that is dependent on ball control, crisp passing, controlling the midfield, and speed. They contest every ball, every pass, and they have the ball skills to make it work for them. Since they play their home games at altitude, when they are at sea level, they can run all day. It's a pretty stark contrast to the power game preferred by Premiership sides (and attempted by MLS).

    I just wish I had access to Setanta or Fox Soccer Channel here -- I'd love to see a Pachuca-Man U tilt.

  • Comment number 55.

    Itis too hard for European teams to concentrate on another trophy. Espeacially English teams who play so many games during the season.

  • Comment number 56.

    I wouldn't scoff at Pachua, although their domestic season was by no means a success. They failed to reach the playoffs. If they had, there participation in the Club world cup would have caused a tremendous headache for the Mexican league.

  • Comment number 57.

    Historically, the winner of the European Cup/Champions League never put that much interest in playing its South American counterpart. There were memorable matches in the early 60s (Real Madrid playing Peñarol, Milan playing Santos) but then came those involving clubs from Argentina. There was so much going on in these games that the European champions refused to play in several occasions, sending the runner up instead, like Atletico de Madrid, Panathinaikos and Malmoe.

    Then came Toyota to sponsor the one off match in Japan and interest from Europe kind of resurfaced. Still, the Cup continued to mean so much more to the South Americans. The Toyota Cup had many memorable games.

    To these days there is no doubt that to South Americans the CWC represents the highlight of the season. It doesn't get any better than to play the winner from Europe even though now, as Tim mentioned in his article, the match might not take place at all.

    To me, the Sao Paulo of Tele Santana in the early 1990s was the most complete team in the history of this tournament. Beating two of the best teams from Europe that one can remember: Cruyff's Dream Team and Capello's Milan.

  • Comment number 58.

    Hey Tim, quick question:

    I've got a friend who lives in Porto Alegre and has adapted Gremio as his Brazil team. He occasionally goes down to the 'Olímpico Monumental' and tells me they've got some top players down there right now: Tcheco; Marcelo Grohe, the goalie; Edixon and, of course, Douglas Costa. However, he claims that there's a young lad waiting in the wings, Gérson, a centre back, who will trump all this lot and be in the national squad before he's 20 (he's currently 15, apprently). Could you shed any light?

  • Comment number 59.

    Great read as always.

    I am based in Rio now for 4 years, I have alot of spare time and if any scouting or alike works are possible please give me a buzz.

    I love going to the games and would be great to help out.


  • Comment number 60.

    Tim, who will be the leading contender for the world cup from south america? brazil or argentina?

  • Comment number 61.

    hi, i spent 7 months in Ecuador this year and went to see as many ecuadorian games as i could, it was very interesting to the see the passion by both fans and the players, as being so much more extreme than in England.
    For this reason i think that LDU Quito, whom i watched almost through the copa libertadores final away when they twice had a 3 goal advantage, have a great chance of not only beating pachuca but also Man utd without too much difficultly. it is clear they want to win it so much, because of being the first ecuadorian team to have the opportunity and because they want to overcame the disapointing lose of the league title to the i think inferior deportivo Quito.
    I suppose really i am saying roll on the club world cup this week and see what happens.

  • Comment number 62.

    its just not important, maybe it would be better played at a different time and a different structure.

    its about as interesting to footy fans in england as south american football, ie, not interesting at all...

  • Comment number 63.

    Just to add to my comments in #61, despite losing 2 of their key players, these were not the only reason for victory in copa libertadores, man to watch Patricio Uruttia.

  • Comment number 64.


    Concerning comment 45, you wrote

    "Pachuca start Wednesday's semi-final as favourites. And whether they or LDU make it through, there will be a South American presence in Sunday's final of the Club World Cup."

    That is a mistake and there is where you give the impression that you think Mexico is a South-American country.



  • Comment number 65.

    Re #23 FYI Tim:

    Gamba Osaka, as you probably are aware, won the Asian Champions League this year, defeating Adelaide United again in the two-leg final 5-0 on agregate. They have quite a few useful players in Yasuhito Endo and Brazilian striker Lucas. However, I fully expect United to run them over.

    By the way, yet another great article.

  • Comment number 66.

    "That is a mistake and there is where you give the impression that you think Mexico is a South-American country."

    I thought it was quite clear that he was referring to the named South American players in the Pachuca team that he had just spent 2 paragraphs describing

  • Comment number 67.

    sorry to bring this up but i saw a couple of comments unanswered.

    nobody is saying the EPL is crap. The EPL is one of the best in the world if not the best right now.

    The point that people are trying to make is that it doesn't guarantee that they would run over the SA competition easily either whether it be their domestic league or in the CWC.

    On another note:

    I am a Sao Paulo fan. Love them. I'll admit that we were on the ropes, sorry for using boxing terminology, but all it takes is one shot. The best fighters do no necessarily have to attack all the time. The best win.

    With that being said, I think Manchester United will win it this year and I'm not saying it just to say it, or to bash the competition this year.

    I hate Man U. I hate SAF, but SAF is not the type to not try to win everything. That is the only thing I respect him for. I saw someone quote him as saying that each game shows a player's true worth. Now that is the truth and the competitive nature that I do like to watch.

    I just hope C. Ronaldo breaks his leg. (gratuitous cheap shot)

  • Comment number 68.

    post 64 - Pibe Valderrama, you're named after someone who was one of the best readers of the game I've seen - it's a pity you didn't read the article more carefully before posting.

    I spent some time explaining how the key players in the Pachuca side are South American - this is the South American presence in the final if they get through.

    Incidentally, there will be a South American presence from both finalists whoever wins the semis - United with Anderson, Tevez, Rafael, Gamba Osaka with Lucas and Roni.

    It's a great example of the fabulous contribution this continent has made, is making and will surely continue to make to the global game.

  • Comment number 69.

    I am based in Australia and have been watching the early stages of the CWC, as Adelaide United have been playing in it and it has been broadcast here.

    First off, I agree that the top teams from the copa libertadores and the champions league should play each other and it would be a great event if this wasn't crammed into one of the busiest times of the year for european clubs schedule. What about the odd years in between world cups / euro championships ?

    The game that I watched the other night was Adelaide against the "oceanic" champions Waitikere United of New Zealand. There are a number of problems with this matchup, mainly that Adelaide were runners up in the asian champions league, while the main professional team in New Zealand (Wellington Phoenix) play in the A-league and therefore are eligible to qualify for the AFC champions league. None of this makes any sense to me ! Surprise surprise Adelaide won and then met Gamba Osaka who beat them again, just as in both legs of the champions league final. Why does "asia" have two representatives ? Because it's held in Japan ? That's nonsense.

    Coupled with the double chance that the mexican team would appear to have (win the copa Libertadores or win the CONCACAF version) and it becomes clear why there is little credibility for this tournament. If it was properly scheduled in a world cup format then it might be a lot better.

  • Comment number 70.

    post 69 - there is no Mexican double chance to participate in the Club World Cup.

    As Mexico is not in South America, if a Mexican club wins the Libertadores (hasn't happened yet - Cruz Azul only lost on penalties in 2001) then they will not go to the Club World Cup.

    In this case South America would be represented by the runners up.

  • Comment number 71.

    I stand corrected, said the man in the orthopaedic shoes........

    My main point remains that the organisation by FIFA to ensure that smaller teams get to playoff for the chance to get a money-spinning game against the big teams makes it a farce, just like that tournament they had in Germany in 2005, I forget the name of it - the champions of all the different continents in some TV spinoff.

  • Comment number 72.

    Good article Tim but as Man Utd fan my only concern is no injuries and other than that I care less.
    The prize for winning the CL is an extra meaningless game called the super-cup followed by a season disrupting 'competition', both of which have no standing from a prestige point of view (TV coverage says it all) and with the outcome that you are playing catch-up in terms of EPL games played and facing fixture congestion. It's complete nonsense. Most fans are only interested in 2 competitions and all this does is threaten the CL winners chances of repeating the task.

    If I'm Fergie I play ther reserves and youth team players and give the fingers to this FIFA white elephant.

    Adelaide Utd are participating for heavens sake!

  • Comment number 73.

    The main reason many Europeans haven't taken the FIFA Club World Cup seriously is FIFA itself hasn't taken this competition seriously. They've taken over a decade to finally include teams from all over the world and still, what are we left with?

    Man Utd entering at the semi-finals.

    No matter how enthusiastic South Americans are about it, the prestige of the Club World Cup hardly compares with, say, the Champions League final. Ask every player and manager on the planet which trophy, after the World Cup, they'd most like to win and very few would say the Club World Cup.

    And yet, it could so easily be Football's most prestigious event after the World Cup. FIFA is slowly ambling towards that inevitability, it's halfway there, and maybe in 10-20 years it will finally become so, but only eventually when somebody at FIFA is brave enough to admit that it's time to inject a sense of real competition.

    As it exists now, the Club World Cup lasts about a week, with FIFA hiding behind the difficulties of scheduling. If they can't take this competition more seriously, why should I?

    The fleeting play-off qualities of the Club World Cup make me take it as seriously as the European Super Cup. Acknowledged but hardly revered.

    However, imagine what could have been: If, at its inception 10 years ago, someone had been forward-thinking enough to suggest a REAL global competition. At least TWO WEEKS long, 8-16-32 teams, group stages.... Not the Euro champions personified by one team against S. American champs personified by one team, but the Champions of the England, Italy, Spain, Germany, And the winners of Ajax, Benifica, Spartak Moscow, and Fernerbache against Champions of Brasil, Argentina, Conmebol & Concacaf, Africa, Asia, Oceania....

    It was all a matter of how they would configure it and FIFA configured it wrong, plain and simple, with painfully slow moves since to gradually make it right. Imagine if for the last 10 years we'd had a consistent global spectacle with an array of teams like Manchester Utd/Chelsea/Liverpool/Arsenal, Vs Real, Barcelona, AC/Inter/Juve Vs Ajax, Porto, Zenith, Celtic Vs Sao Paolo, Santos, Flamengo Vs Boca, River, Estudiantes Vs Cruz Azul, Pacheco, Galaxy Vs Al Ahly and at least another African team, as well as champions from J-, K-, and A-leagues. It's not that hard to configure 16 top teams in the world. FIFA missed the boat completely.

    We could have had a few seasons of enjoying this competition, where it would have meant something. Instead, we have Man Utd introduced at the semi-finals against an Ecuadorian team, Al Ahly, Adelaide, Gamba Osaka.... Not so riveting. Who Cares?

    FIFA have been reluctant to make this a REAL competition mostly because they can't find time for it in their calendar year. They're essentially unwilling to carve out the obvious Xmas/ New Year winter break and stake a claim. Mid-summer for the 4-8 South American teams with flair, Mid-winter for the 4-8 Euro teams with brawn. In Japan, against another 8 teams from Africa and Asia.

    The Germans have already started their winter break. The Prem is crammed with matches. FIFA hasn't been able to solve it. It's taking an arcane approach, trying to pit champion's league conferences against each other when we really want to see respective league champions win at least 3-4 matches and earn a trophy.

    After a decade it's time to say you can't simply take the Euro winner against the S. America winner, against token global teams, and make an event of it.

    So what's the solution? Cancel the leagues for two weeks, head to Japan, and feature the world's top teams. Personally, I want to see at least two teams from England, Italy, Spain, Brasil,and Argentina, I want to see Dutch, Portuguese, and Eastern European teams, and of course, Brasilian, Argentinian, Mexican teams, African teams, and J- K- and A-league teams. Surely that makes 16 and a a proper competition.

    Too much attention is paid to who are champions of what. If FIFA really wanted to inject an exciting element, they could simply declare that the CURRENT league leaders of the Prem, La Liga, Il Calcio, and Bundesligia square up with the rest of the world. There would be a real incentive to being top of your respective league right now. Liverpool, Inter, Barcelona, and Hoffenheim.... I'm a Chelsea fan but still I'd be watching.

  • Comment number 74.

    Too much attention is paid to who are champions of what. If FIFA really wanted to inject an exciting element, they could simply declare that the CURRENT league leaders of the Prem, La Liga, Il Calcio, and Bundesligia square up with the rest of the world. There would be a real incentive to being top of your respective league right now. Liverpool, Inter, Barcelona, and Hoffenheim.... I'm a Chelsea fan but still I'd be watching.

    This has to be the worst comment Ive read on one of these blogs.............I mean you really cant know much about football to think that they should have a comp were the teams that are top of the league at the current time go and play in a champions of champions cup.

  • Comment number 75.

    Why is Fifa being blamed for not wanting to turn the CWC tournament into the second-most prestigious after the World Cup?.. Or perhaps to make it even more prestigious than the WC itself perhaps??

    The reason why the CWC is taking so long to reach it's full potential is just so obvious i.e. UEFA is dead set against it -- pure and simple.

    In other words, the greatest obstacle to the success of the tournament is the vested interests of those in authority who will do all they can to ensure that nothing is allowed to upset the financial cart i.e. the existing club competitions like the CL which they control.

  • Comment number 76.

    I really don't see the point of the CWC getting extended to 16 teams let alone 32.

    A month or so can be reserved for the World Cup...because it's only played every four years! Suspending all other serious competition for a month a year every year would not work!

    Yes, you could spread the comp throughout a longer period of time a la the continental CLs, but that would just increase the fixture pileup for everyone.

    Admittedly though, changing the time of year it's played just to keep England happy wouldn't go down well either. Switching it to the European summer would make it clash with the big national team tournaments every other year!

    From what I hear the '09 tournament will be played in Abu Dabai - so that'll solve the jetlag problems.

    As I said before, 8 teams three matches to win the tournament would be ideal.

  • Comment number 77.


    Finally some one who reads the comments, lets it digest and then replies in a reasonable way, without the nonsense that all to often is divulged and without the petty bias that is apparent in to many people.

    There is no little doubt that the top European teams would do very well in SA, however as with all leagues, the lower teams would frankly get destroyed. As to which league is the best, who cares, lets just enjoy the good football and players, while it and they last.

    In European terms the EPL has the advantage over the other leagues, but as we have seen with Italy this can quickly change. Major money crisis there has caused the once great teams to be shells, and if West ham is anything to go buy, I would not bet the mortgage that a lot, but not all, of the EPL clubs will not find themselves in trouble soon. My own team’s, Liverpool, owners are in financial trouble at the mo and lets hope a sugar daddy is there to put money in.

  • Comment number 78.

    Tim, you mention that European clubs are more concerned with increasing their ‘brand awareness’ among Asian consumers. I don’t think Man Utd have to worry there, strong support for Man Utd in Japan goes back 40 years. In 1968 Japan won the bronze medal at the Mexico Olympics, drawing with Brazil in the group stages. Football suddenly became huge and Japanese fans looked around the world for the best team, it was Man Utd of course who had just won the European Cup. Having George Best in the team also helped.

    #72 WordsofWisdom – Adelaide Utd are not a bad team, I reckon their young coach Aurelio Vidmar could be managing in Europe in the next few years.

  • Comment number 79.

    I think the problem is that this entire competition was set up to be as trickey for the european teams as possible. Hence it always being played thousands of miles away and at the worst possible time for european teams.

    And it will always be the same old story, it has no significance to fans of the european teams, because the league and the champions league will always come first. So this will always stay an international version of the mickey mouse cup.

  • Comment number 80.

    I currently live in Quito and the Ecuadorians have been talking about this for a long time. Even before they won the Copa Libertadores. So it really does mean a lot. They even brought out a new kit for the tournament! The sad truth is they probably won't beat the Mexicans. They didn't even win their own league this season. Arch rivals Diportivo Quito won.

  • Comment number 81.

    Its natural to expect English supporters in these forums and blogs but its realy ridiculous to see sooooo many fans blindly claiming EPL as the best league in the world !! i beg to differ.. may be it is the richest league but not the best for sure, most of the matches are soo predictable and boring and the results will more often end up like 1-0 or 2-1 and its very rare that they score 3 goals in a match, am a regular viewer of La Liga and Serie A and i would like to mention the fact that the most of the La liga matches are soo intense and they score more goals.EPL is more physical and Half of premiership teams plays negative football and most matches are dull. May be EPL has more TV revenue mainly b'cos they have managed to change the kick off time to suit the asian markets and Income cannot be considered as tool measure the quality. i heard Indian cricket board has more money then EUFA does that makes cricket superior then Football??

  • Comment number 82.

    Get real, of course the premier league is the best league.

    No one cares about any of the sa leagues, and very few of the sa players. It doesn't matter how often you say its superior, the fact is it just isn't.

  • Comment number 83.

    Post 79 - I don't think the Club World Cup is set up to be as tricky as possible for the Europeans - quite the reverse. FIFA has bent over backwards to the Europeans.

    When this was tried in 2000 in Brazil there was a group phase - this has since been scrapped to make it as quick and easy for the Europeans as possible - fly in, a couple of games and out.

    And if you think that flying to Japan from Europe is difficult, try it from South America!

  • Comment number 84.

    Oh I understand that Fifa has tried to accomodate the european teams.

    But the point is, they are setup from the outset to fall. If they win, then its simply because they have all the money and all the best players and all the advantages.

    And if they lose, well god help them because then it becomes a tale of biblical proportions, a modern david v goliath.

    So there is really very little in the way of pluses that any european team can take from this tournament.

    And now its just Blatters vanity that keeps it going. His way of showing Uefa who is in overall command.

  • Comment number 85.

    One thing not mentioned so far about the Liverpool-Flamengo game is that Liverpool were in transition. Winning the European Cup in 1981 had been the last great triumph of the 70s Liverpool team - who had finished 5th in the League that season. By the time of the Flamengo game, Clemence had gone and Grobbelaar was struggling to replace him. David Johnson, Ray Kennedy and Terry McDermott were all on borrowed time. Soon after coming back from Tokyo they dropped to 12th in the League after an embarrassing home defeat against Manchester City. It was only with an injection of fresh blood (most notably Ian Rush and Ronnie Whelan) and a new captain (Souness taking over from Thompson) that Liverpool turned things around, going on to win the League.

    From a footballing point of view, the game was the last thing they needed, and even had they taken it seriously they would have struggled against Zico and his mates, based on form. If the game had been played 12 months earlier, or 12 months later, Liverpool may well have won it.

  • Comment number 86.

    post 68 - Thanks for your answer, Tim, and for your blog, which is always a pleasure to read.



  • Comment number 87.

    The reason the World Club Cup is looked down on by European clubs is that most of the teams in it are of barely Coca Cola Championship standard. That's not being ignorant- it's just the truth.

  • Comment number 88.


    Im a huge fan of south american football, and i love your article. any chance you can give me some information regarding the form and transfer status surrounding two young players, henrique and hernanes. Ive heard henrique is doing well at bayer, is he good enough for the barca squad yet? is hernanes good enough for a big european club yet? thanks.

  • Comment number 89.

    If anyone wants to cheer on an Engliah team, but cannot quite bring themselves to shout for Manchester Utd, then Pachuca make a good alternative.

    The game of football was brought to Mexico by some Cornish miners working in Pachuca, who set up the first football team in Mexico - Pachuca.

  • Comment number 90.

    With regards the Soa Paola victory over Liverpool in 2005 - that was thanks to the most shocking refereeing I have ever seen. The ref was a Mexican and disallowed, I think, three Liverpool goals. At least 2 of which were perfectly good goals.

  • Comment number 91.

    And one more thing....!

    An article on last weekend's Apertura final in Mexico.

  • Comment number 92.


    Before stating that others here are 'blindly' making biased claims, you should check the facts of your own claims first.

    As far as dull and one nil games goes....that isn't the EPL you're describing. If you cared to check up, you'd have found that the goals per game ratio of the EPL, Liga 1 and Serie A are all about the same. Over the last ten years La Liag has seen about 0.01 goals per game more than the EPL which itself has seen about 0.01 goals per game more than Serie A.

    That means your favourite Spanish team will score one goal more than your (least?) favourite EPL team over a three year period. In other words, there's not enough of a difference to warrant any claim other than 'they're all about the same'.

    As for who is best? Spanish, English and Italian teams have roughly an equal number of major European trophies, although the English league does seem to have entered a dominant phase.

  • Comment number 93.

    Hi Tim,

    Great blog - sorry to see so many contributors displaying their ignorance of football outside the UK. May be they should open their eyes, not all of us are obsessed with the British style of the game and prefer something a little more cultured.

    Main reason for commenting is more of a question, but it goes back to the lack of knowledge about the game overseas. There's been several stories about the Argentinian league using the spray paint to mark out where the wall should be at a free-kick, but isn't this what I've been watching at live Brazilian games on satellite tv all season?

    How long has the CBF been doing this, and are FIFA considering encouraging it's use elsewhere?


  • Comment number 94.

    LDU Quito are as stated the first Equadorian side to win Copa Liberatores,ironicall the leading goal scorer in the Liberatores was Alberto Spencer an Equador player with Jamaican heritage. A feat Tim you have said Tim is unlikely to be repeated as all the best players are brought by top European sides,to the detrement of their country's league sides,
    Pachuca are fav 11/10 a draw 11/5 LDU Quito are 2/1. LDU Quito has a player familiar to English fans especially Saints supporters Augustin Deldardo. Who was unfotunate to spend most of his time on the sick bench at Southampton.Apparently Gordon Strachan brought him after his good showing on Championship Manager.What I remember him for was his winning goal against my team Arsenal when Saints won 3-2 in 2004, Always go for the underdog good luck LDU Quito ,Salford Utd awaits the winner of your match with Pachuca.

  • Comment number 95.

    I guess this may not be the right place to post this (given that Mexico is not in South America :P) but i was wondering if Tim or anyone else could give me some info about the game there. I was given a very nice Santos Laguna shirt as a leaving gift from an old job and since then have been curious to find out more about the club and the league so if anyone could give me some info, or point me in the direction where i can find my own (not speaking spanish doesn't help) that would be greatly appreciated!

  • Comment number 96.


    I remember the Flamengo Liverpool game vividly.

    What actually happened was Liverpool battered them and they had 3 shots at goal and scored from all 3, it was one of the most bizaar games I have ever seen.

    It certainly did not look like Liverpool didn't take it seriously.

  • Comment number 97.

    despite all the comments above, liga are winning 2-0!

  • Comment number 98.


    With Dunga being under pressure at various times as Brazil boss, how much importance and value do the South Americans place on the fifa rankings?

    With Brazil now 'only' 5th does this play a part in his lack of job security?

    I notice that rarely do the rankings take on value with European nations and fans...

    great blog...


  • Comment number 99.


    How do you see the centre back Breno, currently at Bayern, developing?

    he's highly touted in all quarters but has rarely played, especially in meaningful games, for Bayern.

    However, recently they stated they wouldnt let him leave due to his potential to break into the first team.

    Given the comeptition do you see his future at Bayern and also then reaching his potential or will he be another South American who came over to Europe too early???


  • Comment number 100.


    South Americans don't really care about the FIFA rankings as it is really nonsense, just like the clubs' rankings.

    I don't think Dunga is bothered at all with the rankings nor the brazilian fans.


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