Sanfrecce Hiroshima v River Plate
FIFA World Club Cup Semi-Final Match Preview
We are down to the last four in the 2015 FIFA World Club Cup and the first semi-final sees J League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima take on Argentine giants River Plate.
J-LEAGUE CHAMPIONS GAINING VITAL EXPERIENCE
The Japanese club are participants in this tournament due to the fact that they are the domestic league winners of the host country; their victory coming, in a dramatic two leg play-off win against Gamba Osaka at the start of this month. They have played in the competition before however, back in 2012 where they reached the quarter-finals.The club were only formed back in 1992 and will start as underdogs against their more experienced opponents on Wednesday in the Yanmar Stadium in Osaka. Their road to the last four included wins against Auckland City of New Zealand in the first round and African side TP Mazembe in the quarter-finals but they should find the semi-final meeting a much tougher prospect. Coach Hajime Moriyasu is proud of his players stating that; “We’ve played a lot of matches in a short space of time and my players have always responded brilliantly in difficult situations.”
GALLARDO BRINGS THE GOOD TIMES BACK TO RIVER PLATE
When he took over from club legend Ramon Diaz in June 2014, Marcelo Gallardo was charged with the task of getting River Plate back to the top of South American football. He did just that, taking the club to their third Copa Libertadores title to get them an invite to the World Club Cup in Japan and an automatic place in the semi-final. It is still a sore point with their fanatical supporters, that a club the size of River Plate has only managed to win this trophy on one previous occasion, way back in 1986; their next best performance was a runner’s-up berth 10 years later. Gallardo’s side is teaming with experienced players and they will be firm favourites to beat Wednesday’s opposition and progress to Sunday’s final in Yokohama. If they achieve that, then it seems almost certain they will have to pitch themselves against the world’s best Barcelona, in the final.
With a squad made up of entirely Japanese players with the exception of the Brazilian Douglas and the Croatian Mihael Mikic, Moriyasu could stick with the same players that got his team to the last four. Hisato Sato (priced at *4.33 on the best football betting sites to be an anytime scorer) looks favourite to start in attack over Yusuke Minagawa, playing the lone role in a 5-4- 1 system that has proved successful so far. Both the club’s foreign imports should also make the starting line-up.
Gallardo could start with a 3-4-1-2 formation with former Barcelona striker Javier Saviola starting alongside Rodrigo Mora (priced at *2.87 on the betting exchanges to be first goalscorer) in attack. Carlos Sanchez (sent-off in the clubs last game against Huracan) is eligible for this tournament and he could play in the hole just behind the front two. Marcelo Barovero should be preferred in goal to Julio Chiarini.The coach will also be counting on key players such as Jonathan Maidana and Leonardo Ponzio to take his team into Sunday’s final.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (5-4-1) Hayashi; Kashiwa, Chiba, Sasaki, Shiotani, Mikić; Chajima, Aoyama, Morisaki, Douglas; Sato
River Plate (3-4-1-2)Barovero; Alvarez, Maidana, Mercado; Vangioni, Ponzio, Kranevitter, Casco; Sanchez; Mora, Saviola
HEAD TO HEAD
This will be the first meeting to take place between the two teams
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4.33 Draw 3.40 River Plate 1.85
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)