Last night Real Madrid reached the final of this year’s FIFA Club World Cup with an easy convincing 4-0 thrashing of Cruz Azul. Ancelotti stated before the match that his side would take this match seriously even though the difference in quality and resources between the 2 sides is of course overwhelming. Ancelotti backed this up by fielding his strongest possible line-up, even though most sources indicated he might rest the likes of Ramos, Casillas, Carvajal, and most importantly Toni Kroos.
The first half was weirdly a half of 3 thirds, with Real dominating the first 15 minutes and opening the score with a Ramos header – his 3rd goal in all competitions this season – which forced Cruz Azul to open up and attack. Cruz Azul particularly enjoyed attacking down their right flank where Rojas proved a difficult opponent to Real’s Marcelo. Real Madrid’s left hand side saw several dangerous chances as Rojas was able to infiltrate Madrid’s box but lacked the finishing touch.
The final 15 minutes saw the reigning European champions turn up their intensity which swiftly resulted in Benzema latching on to Carvajal’s cross after some brilliant work, to double up their lead before the break. Azul however landed a golden opportunity to equal the score when Ramos handed the Mexican side a penalty in the 40th minute. Gerardo Torrado, who is the tournament’s top scorer at the moment, stepped up but failed to score past Iker Casillas, who saved his second penalty in the space of 5 days. The penalty save was crucial as it severely deflated Cruz Azul and instead gave Real the momentum they needed to go on and finish the game in the second half.
Real had to wait just 5 minutes to increase their tally when Cristiano did some superb work after receiving the ball from benzema to advance down the left and put in a perfect cross to the unmarked Gareth Bale at the far post, who simply headed it in to unofficially kill off the game. A typical BBC move that saw Bale reach 10 goals this season and Cristiano increase his assists tally to 11, the most in the squad.
Cristiano had some good chances himself but ultimately failed to score a goal. He had to still for just 2 assists as he set Isco up for Real’s 4th goal of the evening. Azul managed to hit the post late on in the game but the match was officially done by that time as Ancelotti took off Ramos – seemingly as a precaution -, Kroos, and Isco. He handed some valuable minutes to Sami Khedira, Jese Rodriguez, and Varane.
In the end, the score line was what many fans and pundits alike expected from the match with Real dominating most of the play, scoring 4 goals – their most in the Club World Cup, and keeping a clean sheet – also their first in the tournament. They now advance to the final where they will either meet Auckland City or San Lorenzo in a match where they will, again, be overwhelming favourites to win.
Man of the Match – Iker Casillas
It was a close call between Toni Kroos who bossed the midfield battle even though he played 75 minutes only, Cristiano Ronaldo who assisted 2 goals, and Casillas who managed to keep Azul out of the game but ultimately it fell to Iker. The Spanish goal keeper managed to make a crucial save early on from a Roja cross that could’ve resulted in an equalising goal. He later on went to stop the penalty that would have definitely resurrected Cruz Azul’s chances of a miracle. Iker also became the first goal keeper in history to stop penalties in the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. Showcasing his drastic improvement from his early outings and his World Cup display. He will now captain Real Madrid in the final which will be his 700th game with the club, as he looks to lift the only title that alluded him as a captain.