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- Bayern Munich are club world champions for the second time
- Tiger’s UANL is making history by reaching the final
- Satisfaction for Al Ahly and Al Duhail, disappointment for Ulsan and Palmeiras
The first FIFA tournament, hosted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ended again with European champions. FC Bayern Munich claimed their sixth trophy in a year, a feat achieved only once before, by Barcelona in the 2008/09 season. This was also Bayern’s second FIFA Club World Cup triumph after their first title in 2013.
The Germans proved their dominance in their opening match against Egypt’s Al Ahly SC, and advanced to the final with a hoop from Lewandowski, named the tournament’s best player. The European champions showed quality and physical strength against their African counterparts, who played admirably, especially in the second half, but were powerless to prevent Bayern from closing their sixth title of the year. Tigers proved to be worthy opponents in the final, but once again the Bavarians won.
The club’s quest for six titles was both relentless and impressive. First, they packed the Bundesliga on June 16 with a 1-0 win over Werder Bremen, four rounds before the end of the season. With a 30th league title in the bag, they then won their 20th DFB Cup on July 4 at the expense of Bayer Leverkusen. On August 23, they proved too good for Paris Saint-Germain and won the UEFA Champions League for the sixth time, followed by victory over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup on September 24. Then came their DFB Super Cup triumph against Borussia Dortmund on 30 September, before making it six out of six in Qatar on 11 February 2021.
As for the Tigres, who owed their Club World Cup debut to a maiden Concacaf Champions League triumph in 2020, they can rightly be proud to be the first Mexican and Concacaf team to reach the final after impressive victories against the respective Asians and South American champions: Ulsan Hyundai and Palmeiras.
Thirty-five-year-old Andre-Pierre Gignac, who for many years was a prolific goal scorer in his native France, became one of the biggest names in the Concacaf region after his move to Mexico in 2015. The striker surprisingly emerged as one of the stars in Qatar 2020, scoring the top scorer award for his three goals.
Achievements and disappointments
The tournament witnessed good performances from Africa’s representatives Al Ahly, who beat Qatar’s Al Duhail in their first match to set up a semi-final meeting with the Bavarian giants, which they lost 2-0. In the playoffs for third place against Brazil’s Palmeiras, the Egyptians showed their resilience and eventually won on penalties. It was the club’s second bronze medal in this competition after their first in 2006.
As for Palmeiras, they clearly fell below their high expectations for the tournament. Broadly tipped to fight the final against Bayern, they were carried by a strong Tigres side with an insecure defense. They also could not find any consolation in their play-off against the Red Devils, lost again and had to settle for fourth place.
For their part, Al Duhail tried bravely and put up a strong display in the second half against Al Ahly, but the Egyptians blocked their way to the final four. In their second match, they avoided the same mistakes and scored three goals against Ulsan, finishing fifth in their first participation in the tournament.
As for the Korean club, they were not up to their fans expectations and lacked firepower without their star striker Junior Negrao leaving the club shortly before the tournament. Despite being used to Qatar stadiums, where they played the final stages of the 2020 Champions League, they could not replicate the movement and finishing that made them continental champions.