The reigning Spanish and European champions Barcelona will be up against Copa America winners River Plate in the final of the Club World Cup on Sunday at the International Stadium in Yokohama.
River Plate were unconvincing in their 1-0 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima and had to rely on a goalkeeping error from the Japanese outfit to book their place in the summit clash. Meanwhile, Barcelona were handed a setback with Lionel Messi ruled out of the semi-final clash against Guangzhou Evergrande due to pain caused by kidney stones. Neymar, who had sustained an injury during practice prior to a Champions League clash against Bayer Leverkusen, was already ruled out of the encounter. In the given circumstances, Luis Suarez started the game as the focal point of the attack and was flanked by Sergi Roberto and Munir El Haddadi on either side. The Uruguayan scored a hat-trick – becoming the first ever player to do so at the Club World Cup – to ensure a 3-0 win for the Catalans.
Heading into the final, the Europeans will be favourites to add a third Club World Cup to their trophy haul, considering the ease with which they disposed off their Chinese opposition and also the unconvincing display from their Argentine opponents.
Barcelona lined-up in their usual 4-3-3 formation and Guangzhou Evergrande with Claudio Bravo in goal, the midfield saw the usual suspects in Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets. The only surprise was the deployment of Roberto on left wing instead of Sandro Ramirez, although the forward did come on as a substitute.
The Argentines lined-up in a defensive 4-4-2 formation and will be expected to do the same against the European champions. Los Millonarios have enjoyed great support from their fans, who have travelled in huge numbers to egg their team on and they will be hoping to see their team win their first ever Club World Cup on Sunday.
Although Barcelona were not in great form heading into the tournament, having drawn their last three games, but will be overwhelming favourites to take home the trophy.