- Bayern München are Club World Cup champions for second time
- Tigres UANL make history in reaching the final
- Satisfaction for Al Ahly and Al Duhail, disappointment for Ulsan and Palmeiras
The first FIFA tournament to be staged in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic ended once again with European champions. FC Bayern München claimed their sixth trophy in a year, a feat only achieved once before, by Barcelona in the 2008/09 season. This was also Bayern’s second FIFA Club World Cup™ triumph following their maiden title in 2013.
The Germans proved their supremacy in their opening game against Egypt’s Al Ahly SC, progressing to the final with a brace from Lewandowski, voted 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 closing in on their sixth title of the year. Tigres proved worthy opponents in the final but once again the Bavarians triumphed.
The club’s quest for six titles was both relentless and impressive. First, they wrapped up the Bundesliga on June 16 with a 1-0 win against 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, following that up with victory over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup on September 24. Then came their DFB Super Cup triumph against Borussia Dortmund on September 30, before they made it six from six in Qatar on 11 February 2021.
As for Tigres, who owed their Club World Cup debut to a maiden Concacaf Champions League triumph in 2020, they can be justifiably proud of becoming the first Mexican and Concacaf team to reach the final after impressive wins against the respective Asian and South American champions: Ulsan Hyundai and Palmeiras.
Thirty five-year-old Andre-Pierre Gignac, who for many years was a prolific scorer in his native France, became one of the biggest names in the Concacaf region following his move to Mexico in 2015. The striker unsurprisingly emerged as one of the stars of Qatar 2020, scooping the top scorer award for his three goals.
Accomplishments and disappointments
The tournament witnessed fine performances from Africa’s representatives Al Ahly, who beat Qatar’s Al Duhail in their first game to set up a semi-final meeting with the Bavarian giants, which they lost 2-0. In the play-off 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, following their first in 2006.
As for Palmeiras, they clearly fell short of their lofty expectations for the tournament. Widely tipped to contest the final against Bayern, they were undone by a strong Tigres side with an unyielding defence. Nor could they find any consolation in their play-off against the Red Devils, losing again and having to settle for fourth place.
For their part, Al Duhail tried valiantly and put in a strong second-half display against Al Ahly, but the Egyptians blocked their path to the last four. In their second fixture, they avoided the same mistakes and scored three goals against Ulsan, finishing fifth in their first participation at the tournament.
As for the Korean club, they were not up to the expectations of their fans and lacked fire power without their star striker Junior Negrao, who left the club shortly before the tournament. Despite being used to Qatar’s stadiums, where they played the latter stages of the 2020 Champions League, they could not replicate the movement and finishing that made them continental champions.