Barcelona v River Plate
FIFA World Club Cup Final Match Preview
With respect to the other teams involved, the organisers of the 2015 World Club Cup have got the final they all wanted, as Champions League winners Barcelona, take on Copa Libertadores champions River Plate.
NO MESSI? NO PROBLEM FOR BARCA IN SEMI-FINAL STROLL
Despite the loss of Lionel Messi to illness shortly before the game, Barcelona comfortably saw off the challenge of AFC Champions League holders Guangzhou Evergrande on Thursday, as they bid to become the first team in history to win the World Club Cup on three separate occasions. A three-goal sortie from striker Luis Suarez snuffed out the Chinese challenge, to set up a mouth-watering final against River Plate in Yokohama on Sunday. The Uruguayan marksman is currently quoted at *3.24 on the best football betting sites to open the scoring at the weekend. It will be an emotional game for Argentine defender Javier Mascherano, who’ll line-up against his former side in Yokohama. In an interview ahead of the match he stated that; “River Plate was a part of my life in the same way that Barcelona is now. I’ve been playing for this club for six years now and feel very deeply connected to it. While I certainly haven’t forgotten my roots, there’s no room for emotion in this situation.”
RIVER PLATE AIMING FOR THE TITLE FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1986
In the end they made hard work of it, but a goal from Lucas Alario 18 minutes from time in the semi-final against Sanfrecce Hiroshima, was enough to book River Plate’s place in the final for the third time in their history. The Argentine giants are aiming to become the fourth team from South America to lift the crown; something they haven’t managed themselves since 1986. Their performance in last Wednesday’s semi-final, where they had goalkeeper Marcelo Baroveroto thank for a string of excellent saves, suggests that they will be extremely lucky to beat arguably the best club side in the world. Nevertheless, defender Leonel Vangioni is not daunted by the task declaring that; “We want to win the match by playing the same way we always do. We can only guarantee a close-fought final by playing the way we do in crucial games. We can do it if we all stick together.”
Barcelona are still waiting on the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of Sunday’s final after he was taken ill prior to Thursday’s semi. Brazilian Neymar is still a doubt as he continues to recover from a groin injury. If neither player makes the starting line-up, then it seems Sergio Roberto and Munir will deputise once more.
Former Barcelona player Javier Saviola, despite being currently priced at *7.00 on the betting exchanges to score on Sunday, looks set to miss out on a chance to take on his former club with coach Marcelo Gallardo once again starting him from the substitutes bench. The Argentines will probably try to stifle the midfield, so could line-up in a 4-1-3-2 formation with Claudio Kranevitter sitting in front of the back four.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Barcelona (4-3-3) Bravo; Jorde Alba, Mascherano, Pique, Dani Alves; Rakitic, Busquets; Messi, Iniesta, Munir
River Plate (4-1-3-2) Barovero, Vangioni, Alvarez, Maidana, Mercado; Kranevitter; Ponzio, Pisculichi, Sanchez; Alario, Mora
HEAD TO HEAD
Sunday’s Final will be the first competitive fixture between the two clubs
Barcelona 1.14 Draw 7.50 River Plate 19.00
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)